Post-Gazette: Environment, energy in budget deal

I contributed to this report by Bill Toland, as appeared in the July 1, 2008 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.This is part of a post-graduate internship with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association (PLCA).

Part of yesterday’s budget deal included a rough agreement to spend $650 million on environment- and energy-related programs, $500 million of which will come from new borrowing over two years.

From the pot of $500 million, $180 million will be spent on solar power — $100 million to help residents and businesses install solar power equipment, and $80 million for capital projects relating to recruiting solar energy companies and jobs.

An additional $165 million over two years is earmarked for alternative energy projects, distributed through the Commonwealth Financing Authority, an agency that administers a variety of economic stimulus packages. On top of that, $40 million goes to the Ben Franklin Technology Partnership (a risk-capital investor attached with the state); $25 million goes toward the construction of “green” buildings; and $25 million more goes to help coal companies reduce their mercury emissions.

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