Officials highlight federal, state investments in conservation, environment and urban revitalization

Officials highlight federal, state investments in conservation, environment and urban revitalization

SCRANTON — Gathered near the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti and other officials Thursday touted historic federal and state investments in urban revitalization, the environment and conservation.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed in August, includes hundreds of billions of dollars in climate-focused investments and $60 billion “to address specific environmental concerns of communities like Scranton … that has been on the front lines of industrial pollution for generations,” said Katie Blume, political and legislative director for the nonprofit Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania.

Blume said that contaminated industrial areas near the heritage trail’s East Market Street trailhead, the site of Thursday’s press conference, are examples of the kinds of sites federal resources could potentially help remediate.

She noted federal funding opportunities dovetail with conservation investments in the state budget, which includes $800 million in new conservation funding for parks, outdoor recreation, improved water and air quality, and other initiatives.

“While we’re still waiting to learn how funding for all of these new initiatives will be allocated and distributed, we at Conservation Voters are pledging to work with Mayor Cognetti and other elected officials across the state to make sure that resources go to where they are needed,” Blume said.

Cognetti, noting her mother and daughter were enjoying the nearby Nay Aug Avenue Natural Play Area along the heritage trail, described the amenity as an example of what funding, stewardship and effort can do to bolster areas. She credited decades of work by individuals and organizations, particularly the Lackawanna River Conservation Association, for improving the river and its environs but said there’s still work to be done.

“So funding at the state level … is critical for us to continue to do the work that we still need to do along the Lackawanna River,” the mayor said. “It also is the perfect timing with the Inflation Reduction Act, which is a huge, as we know, a historic investment in turning the tide as best we can for climate change in America.”

Reached later Thursday, LRCA President Joe Wechsler said the association is excited about the potential for the funding and looks forward to being a partner in future improvements along the river. The city plans to identify funding opportunities with federal and state officials.



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