July 16, 2008
Remarks Made in
Lancaster & York, Pa.
District Attorney John Morganelli, Democratic Candidate for Attorney General Says Attorney General Tom Corbett Sides With Corporate Sludge Haulers Against Rural Pennsylvanians
In many rural parts of Pennsylvania, citizens acting through their elected local officials are uniting to protect their communities from the serious dangers associated with the spreading of sludgeand biosolids on Pennsylvania’s farmland. Unfortunately, we have an attorney general, Tom Corbett, who is on the side of corporate sludge haulers and against rural Pennsylvanians. Mr. Corbett threatened Pennsylvania’s rural communities back in 2006, and now he is making good on his threat by doing everything he can to interfere with the wishes of rural Pennsylvanians. I am here today to condemn Attorney General Tom Corbett’s blatant use of the power of the government to intimidate ordinary people who want a safe environment in which to live, and his use of public resources to fight on behalf of corporate interests against our citizens.
As many of you know, a number of municipalities in Pennsylvania have enacted ordinances that ban the spreading of sludge on farmland. By definition, sludge consists of both human waste and other sewage, which could potentially include industrial toxins and heavy metals that are not removed in the process. We are not merely talking about human waste. While the term sludge has often been equated to only human waste, biosolids is wastewater treated by municipal sewage systems and in addition to human waste, can include toxic metals, pathogens, mortuary waste and hazardous hospital waste as well as hundreds of other chemicals. Anything flushed down a drain in home, factory or hospital ends up as a biosolid and there have been documented ill effects on people. Cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia pay corporations to take their waste. Those same corporations then distribute the waste to farms. One of the largest companies, Synagro, has impacted Pennsylvania. Synagro transported over 13,000 tons of biosolids onto Pennsylvania farms in 2007.
In 2006 when the state enacted the Agricultural, Communities and Rural Environment Act, known as ACRE, The Evening Sun Newspaper reported that Attorney General Tom Corbett threatened Pennsylvania’s rural communities with lawsuits should they try to get in the way of state sanctioned spreading of corporate sludge. Since then, Mr. Corbett has carried out his threat against rural Pennsylvania. In a number of municipalities, Attorney General Tom Corbett has agreed to intervene and use the power and resources of state government to fight against the wishes and desire of our citizens who only want to protect their communities from environmental contamination by sludge. Over in East Brunswick Township, Schuylkill County for example, Attorney General Corbett is carrying the ball for J.C. Hills Tree Farm, a private company, against the citizens of East Brunswick Township. Mr. Corbett wants to have all such municipal ordinances in Pennsylvania declared illegal.
On July 2, 2008, the Republican Herald newspaper reported that on a visit to Schuylkill County, Corbett essentially told local governments to mind their own business when it comes to the spreading of sludge on farmland. Mr. Corbett also misrepresented the truth to the citizens when he stated that it was his duty as attorney general to enforce the Agricultural, Communities and Rural Environment Act known as ACRE . That assertion is entirely false. The law states clearly that the attorney general may bring action against a local government, but it is certainly not his responsibility or duty to do so.
Let me read directly from the law, Section 314 b of ACRE states: The Attorney General has the discretion whether to bring an action… Section 315a of ACRE states, The Attorney General may bring an action against the local government … to invalidate the unauthorized local ordinance … .
This is important, ladies and gentleman. Your current attorney general, Tom Corbett, absolutely does not need to bring these cases against your local governments. No law requires him to do so. No law requires him to use state resources to bring lawsuits against you. He is doing this because he wants to do it The law that Mr. Corbett has been referencing in defense of his action against you and in support of corporate sludge haulers is completely discretionary. Not only is this not necessary, but in my opinion, it is an irresponsible use of public resources on behalf of private big corporations.
So, today I am here to tell you that if elected attorney general of Pennsylvania , one of my first acts will be to withdraw the OAG from participation in all of these sludge lawsuits. There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the health effects of sludge use, and citizens acting through their local governments have a right to protect their communities. I will not use your tax money to overturn your own decisions and fight the battles for corporations. As attorney general, I will leave these decisions to you, the members of the community, and focus my attention and state resources on those issues that will address the interests of the community as a whole, not the private interests of corporate America.
CONTACT: John Morganelli 610-248-7701