Causer’s Stream Obstruction Removal Bill Earns House Approval

PA State Rep. Martin T. Causer (R-Turtlepoint)

HARRISBURG – The state House today approved legislation authored by Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) to force the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to streamline the process for removing gravel bars and other obstructions from streams.

“This is great news for communities across the Commonwealth that have been unable to address these potential flood hazards because of the DEP bureaucracy,” Causer said. “We need a reasonable process that doesn’t force local officials or citizens to jump through hoops – sometimes very costly hoops – for what should be a simple fix.”

House Bill 2359 aims to create a clear, efficient and effective process to better manage stream obstruction problems without an unnecessary, complicated and expensive permitting process. The bill also includes measures to further expedite stream clearings when such activities are deemed to be an emergency by local, county or state authorities.

Causer cited a situation in Emporium, Cameron County, where borough officials have been trying to remove a gravel bar for more than five years but have been unable to get the go ahead from DEP to do so. He has heard similar stories from other communities in the 67th Legislative District and across the state.

“When local officials have to work for years just to remove a gravel bar, the process is clearly broken,” he said.

Causer and fellow lawmakers from rural areas of the Commonwealth questioned DEP Secretary Michael Krancer extensively about the issue of gravel bars during House Appropriations Committee hearings earlier this year, and the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held an informational meeting on the topic of stream obstructions as well.

Causer also met with DEP privately but said the agency has yet to offer a solution to the problem.

“Frankly, this is a problem DEP should have addressed a long time ago,” Causer said. “Stream obstructions are a threat to public safety, and we have a duty to protect that. My legislation is an important step in that direction.”

House Bill 2359 passed by a vote of 136-60 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.


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