From Representative Smizik’s Office
In highlighting important items in the environmental budget Chairman Smizik thanked the House Leadership and his colleagues in the House and Senate.
The highlights include:
• Increased administrative funding for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. This funding will help the Executive Office as it takes on the new challenges of putting the energy bill into action, implementing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and beginning the ocean management planning process.
• $36M for the Department of Environmental Protection. DEP enforces all of the environmental laws of the Commonwealth and takes in more money than any state agency through its enforcement actions. This funding also provides an earmark for implementation of the Mercury Management Act, which will remove mercury from the state’s waste stream.
• Restored funding for the Natural Heritage Program. The Natural Heritage Program is responsible for protecting the state’s rare animals and plants. This program received consistent funding until 2003 when it was removed from the budget. Since then, the program has struggled along, using state bonds, federal grants and voluntary contributions. The Natural Heritage Program not only protects endangered species, but also provides vital information to developers regarding location of endangered species and means of protecting habitat.
• $1.09M for Stormwater Management and $ 2M for the Division of Water Supply Protection. These line items help to protect both the quality of our drinking water and the quality of water that we use for recreation. The storm water management funding helps the Department of Conservation and Recreation manage the runoff that flows into the Charles River and Boston Harbor.
• Over $29 M for the Division of Urban Parks and Recreation and $26M for the Division of State Parks and Recreation. This additional funding will help to restore Massachusetts’ parks to their world -class status by providing adequate funding for maintenance and staffing in the park system.
• $1.6 M for the Toxic Use Reduction Institute at UMASS Lowell and $1.7 for the Office of Technical Assistance. Both OTA and TURI provide valuable scientific research and technical support to help businesses as they transition to using fewer toxic chemicals in Massachusetts industry and manufacturing.
• Finally, $200,000 was earmarked for the Buy Local Campaign, a marketing strategy that promotes consumption of locally grown agricultural products. This earmark is not only good for agriculture, but good for Massachusetts’ economy as well.
Representative Smizik is Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture