The JLCC was created to make recommendations in regard to the custodianship and care of our land, water and air. The Committee seeks to determine challenges facing Pennsylvania's natural resources, as well as collaborative solutions; bringing together conservation, industry and government. Recent issues that the Committee has focused upon include forestry, electronic waste recycling, state parks, land sewer and water infrastructure, prescribed fire and Pennsylvania's heritage areas.
On January 19, 1968, Governor Raymond P. Shafer signed Act 448, P.L. 1022, creating a new legislative service agency known as the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee. It was to be governed by an eighteen-member board, comprised of nine legislative members from each party - half from the Senate and half from the House of Representatives.
Act 448 delegated the following functions to the Committee:
- Conducting continuing studies of air and water pollution laws and recommending needed changes to the General Assembly.
- Conducting continuing studies of the enforcement of air and water pollution laws, and in conjunction with such studies to make necessary trips to various sections of the Commonwealth to hold public hearings.
- Conducting continuing studies of mining practices, mining laws, and reclamation of mined lands.
- Holding public hearings and receiving comments regarding any or all of the above subjects of study.
Over the decades, the Committee's scope has continued to grow to include a myriad of environmental challenges. Key examples of the Committee's assistance to the General Assembly include:
- The Legislative Forestry Task Force: Since 1994, the Legislative Forestry Task Force, through a series of resolutions enacted in succeeding legislative sessions, has worked on a number of policy issues affecting the health and productivity of Pennsylvania's forests.
- Pennsylvania's Waste Tire Recycling Act: Working with stakeholders, the Committee took an active role in developing Act 190 of 1996, and a follow-up measure to expand the original law (Act 111 of 2002) for the safe disposal of waste tires.
- Pennsylvania's Sustainable Water Infrastructure Task Force: In 2008, the Committee, in cooperation with DEP, held a series of eight public meetings which resulted in Act 64 of 2008, a successful bond issue for construction, rehabilitation and improvement of water treatment systems within the Commonwealth.
- Prescribed Burning Practices Act: Working closely with former Representative Gary Haluska of Cambria County, the Committee and its Forestry Task Force played a significant role in the development of Act 17 of 2009, which regulates the prescribed burning of state-owned lands.
For nearly 50 years, the Committee's mission remains the same: to assist the General Assembly in ensuring the sustainable use of Pennsylvania's diverse natural resources.