Public Policy Research Education and Advocacy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: David Hughes, 412/421-6072
May 17, 2002 Rep. Dan Frankel, 717/705-1875
Senator Michael O’Pake, 717/787-8925
MAJOR STEP TAKEN ON CITIZEN POWER INITIATIVE
NEW LEGISLATION WILL CREATE CRITICALLY NEEDED OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATE
PITTSBURGH, May 17/PRNewswire—Citizen Power’s initiative to institute a Pennsylvania Office of Environmental Advocate took a major step forward on May 16 when State Senator Michael O’Pake introduced legislation in the Pennsylvania Senate that would establish this critically needed office.
“This is a milestone in Citizen Power’s effort to create a Pennsylvania Office of Environmental Advocate,” said David Hughes, Executive Director of Citizen Power. “After nearly 20 years of environmental advocacy, I can attest to the need for an Office of Environmental Advocate. Groups like Citizen Power have been waging battle after battle, at great expense, to protect Pennsylvania’s environment. Too often corporate interests go unchallenged in regulatory and court proceedings. Having a statutory party representing the public at such proceedings would balance the scale, giving the average citizen, and the environment, increased protection,” continued Hughes.
“Too often, communities and concerned citizens face the uneven task of pitting limited local resources against the overpowering financial and other resources of national and international corporations,” said State Senator Michael O’Pake. “The quality of life of Pennsylvanians should not be left to chance. The responsibilities of the Environmental Advocate will be to provide a full-time, publicly financed counterbalance to advocate for the protection of environmental rights, as set forth in the Declaration of Rights in our Commonwealth Constitution.”
The legislation, (Senate Bill 1446 and House Bill No. 2482), already has 40 co-sponsors in the House and 13 in the Senate. “The environmental issues and challenges facing Pennsylvania are substantial and complex,” said Representative Dan Frankel, prime sponsor of House Bill 2482, which was introduced on April 2. “The public and environmental advocates do not have the resources to insure enforcement of state and federal regulations. An independent environmental advocate will fill this void and help to secure Pennsylvania’s constitutional responsibility to preserve and enhance the environment.”
“This office is long overdue in Pennsylvania,” said Hughes. “It’s hard to believe that the health of every Pennsylvanian goes unprotected in all kinds of regulatory and court proceedings, but that is the case now. Having a legal team representing every citizen at proceedings where the environment is at issue is the minimum protection every Pennsylvanian deserves,”