Pa.'s Growing Greener Plan Favors Rich Over Poor (Letter to the Editor)

Pa.'s Growing Greener Plan Favors Rich Over Poor (Letter to the Editor)

March 04, 1999
Originally published in The Philadelphia Inquirer

Gov. Ridge calls his Growing Greener Initiative "the most sweeping change in environmental spending policy in 30 years" (Inquirer, Feb. 24). His plan redirects money from landfill cleanups and water and sewer improvements to purchase open space. These new priorities are "21st-century environmental goals," Ridge explains.

The problem with his plan is that many communities, particularly poor rural communities, don't have the money to pay for cleaner landfills, better sewer systems, and improved water lines. These communities are still dealing with centuries-old sanitation concerns.

Instead of worrying about the needs of the poor, the governor appears more concerned about the wants of the more well-to-do. The well-to-do fret as more of the poor and middle class move to the suburbs to realize the American Dream of homeownership. The suburbs provide open space for these families, both in parks and private yards.

But many people don't like the newcomers, and they clamor for the government to buy up open space to protect them from the new suburban development, or "urban sprawl," The governor listens to these elitist voices but ignores, the housing and sanitation needs of the poor and middle class.

If Ridge's Growing Greener Initiative is a plan for 21st-century goals, I want to go back 'to the dark ages.