HARRISBURG, May 8 – State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Houtzdale, said legislation re-establishing a State Energy Office and providing increased grants to volunteer firefighters and ambulance squads advanced Tuesday in the state House of Representatives.
“I envision the State Energy Office taking a lead role in implementing Pennsylvania’s Energy Independence Strategy,” said George, whose House Bill 366 was approved by the House Environmental and Energy Committee and sent to the House for consideration.
George said HB 366 would establish the State Energy Office within the Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP secretary would appoint an executive director while the governor would appoint an advisory council representing business, transportation and the public.
The State Energy Office, dissolved in 1995 by the Ridge administration, would:
? Develop the state’s natural and renewable energy resources.
? Promote the efficient use of energy.
? Implement energy, conservation and heating assistance programs.
? Monitor energy prices and supplies and develop responses to emergencies.
? Develop strategic heating oil and diesel reserves in the region.
George, majority chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said the panel also OK’d the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, HB 110. The legislation would inventory greenhouse gases in the Commonwealth, create a voluntary registry of greenhouse emissions and form an advisory panel to help develop plans to combat climate change.
George said the House unanimously approved the Volunteer Fire Company and the Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Act, which would double funding to $50 million for one time only because of revenues available through the State Gaming Fund.
“Volunteer fire companies would be eligible to receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $30,000, and volunteer ambulance services would be able to receive a grant ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, said George of HB 906, which was sent to the state Senate for consideration. “After this one-time opportunity, funding would return to $25 million annually.”
In a final matter, George said his resolution celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps and designating May as “Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps Month also was approved unanimously.”