State Legislators Challenge Authority of Susquehanna River Basin Commission
– Members of the General Assembly met today with representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), including Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell, to discuss what they feel are abuses of power, redundancy of services and overall wasting of taxpayer dollars by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC).
“We took our message to DEP because they have a voting seat at the table when the commission makes its decisions,” said Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams). “The SRBC, which was created in 1970, basically reports to no one. It has taken advantage of that situation and created a kingdom unto itself with six-figure administrative salaries and unchecked authority – all at the expense of the Pennsylvania taxpayer.”
The SRBC was created when the Susquehanna River Basin Compact was drafted and signed into law on Dec. 24, 1970. The compact, as adopted by the Congress of the United States, and the legislatures of New York State, Pennsylvania and Maryland, provides the mechanism to guide the conservation, development and administration of the water resources of the river basin.
“The intentions of the compact were good in trying to coordinate the efforts of three states and the agencies of the federal government in order to manage use of the water and natural resources related to the Susquehanna River,” added Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York). “Sadly, the commission has abused what power it has by charging municipalities exorbitant compliance fees and forcing them to conduct monitoring activities that are already performed by DEP.”
The meeting also included representatives from local water authorities and municipalities who testified to excessive and unrealistic requests made by the SRBC that are straining already-stressed operating budgets and the ability to serve taxpayers. The only recourse these groups have is increase customers’ water rates or cut services.
“Many of us have met face-to-face with commission members, who frankly ignored our observations and continue to act in what we feel is an irresponsible manner,” Rep. Will Tallman (R-Adams/Cumberland) said. “It is our hope that Acting Secretary McDonnell communicates our concerns to the SRBC and they in turn cease and desist. Our plan is to talk to our colleagues in Maryland and New York – the other states that interact with the commission – before deciding what legislative course of action needs to be taken.”
Other members of the General Assembly who participated in the meeting include Sen. Rich Alloway (R-33), a representative of Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-25), and Reps. Dawn Keefer (R-Cumberland/York), Brett Miller (R-Lancaster), Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland) and Dave Zimmerman (R-Lancaster).
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Scott Little