The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Main Office:  675 Mower Road, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania 17202
West Coast Office:  126 NE Mason Street, Portland, OR  97211

 
Dozens of Communities Adopt Resolutions Defending Local Self-Government
Stand with East Brunswick as Attorney General Corbett Sues on Behalf of Sludge Dumpers

CONTACT:  Ben Price, Projects Director
(717) 243-6725BenGPrice@aol.comJuly 12, 2008


(Chambersburg, PA, July 11, 2008) – Municipal governments across Pennsylvania are voting their support for the right of a small Schuylkill County Township to protect its citizens’ against corporations dumping sewage sludge in violation of their local law.

On December 6, 2006, the Board of Supervisors in East Brunswick Township upheld their oaths to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community by enacting an Ordinance that prohibits corporate sludge dumping. Their vote came after months of petitioning and organizing by residents, who argued that Pennsylvanians retain the right to make local self-governing decisions for the protection of their communities, and that those rights cannot be preempted by the State.

With reports continuing to come in, so far twenty-two local governments have reported passing Resolutions in support of East Brunswick, and in opposition to State Attorney General Thomas Corbett’s law suit in which he has asked the Commonwealth Court to strip the community of its local law. Five other communities and organizations have signed on as legal allies of East Brunswick, filing friend of the court briefs, and asking the Commonwealth Court to leave the Ordinance intact. Those allies include: Tamaqua Borough in Schuylkill County, Donegal Township in Washington County, Blaine Township in Washington County, the Town of Barnstead in New Hampshire, the Town of Halifax in Virginia, the Pennsylvania Farmers Union, the Pennsylvania Family Farm Coalition, and Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County California.

In a legal brief filed with the Court against East Brunswick on January 31, 2008, the Attorney General’s office had this to say: There is no inherent right to local self government. Municipal officials and Pennsylvanians from a growing list of communities have made a point to publicly and officially disagree.

On June 27th, Stephen C. Brown, Township Manager for London Grove Township in Chester County wrote on behalf of that municipality: The Board voted 5-0 to support East Brunswick Township in your drive to support the right of Townships to local self-government. The London Grove Supervisors believe this basic issue of self-determination is of the utmost importance to our community and to communities throughout the Commonwealth.

Bethel Township in Berks County passed a Resolution on June 16th expressing concern about actions of certain Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Agencies which seek to limit and/or impair the ability of local government to enact Ordinances and take actions that directly impact on the health, safety and welfare of residents within local government jurisdiction.

Conewango Township in Warren County passed their Resolution on the 9th of June, explaining their full support of East Brunswick Township Board of Supervisors and its residents in their efforts to defend their sewage sludge Ordinance against the suit filed by the Office of the Attorney General, saying in part representatives of agribusiness and waste disposal corporations succeeded, after years of efforts opposed by communities and local governments, in driving anti-democratic legislation through the Pennsylvania General Assembly to strip municipalities of self-governing authority over issues that directly effect local citizens…

On June 5th, York County’s Hopewell Township joined others in prefacing their support for East Brunswick’s stand with provisions like these: Whereas, just government is ever at the consent of the governed, and the People of East Brunswick have taken a clear stand in enacting said Ordinance indicating that they do not consent to the disposal of sewage sludge in their community; and Whereas, a denial of local self-governing authority by the State on behalf of corporations that will especially benefit from such usurpation is unjust, illegitimate and beyond the authority of the State or any government…

Borough Manager Chris L. Boehm wrote on June 13th, We agree that the people who reside in the community and are directly affected by decisions must be the ones to make them. We support East Brunswick Township Board of Supervisors and its residents in their efforts to defend their sludge ordinance and wish you all the best.

A partial list of communities that have passed similar Resolutions in support of Local Self-Government:

London Grove Township in Chester County
Bethel Township in Berks County
Conewango Township in Warren County
Daugherty Township in Beaver County
Eden Township in Lancaster County
Elk Township in Warren County
Hopewell Township in York County
Lancaster Township in Lancaster County
Lausanne Township in Carbon County
Macungie Borough in Lehigh County
Maidencreek Township in Berks County
Maxatawny Township in Berks County
Millersburg Borough in Dauphin County
Oregon Township in Wayne County
Oxford Township in Adams County
Peters Township in Washington County
Shrewsbury Township in York County
Tamaqua Borough in Schuylkill County
Thompson Township in Fulton County
Tilden Township in Berks County
West Brandywine Township in Chester County
West Brunswick Township in Schuylkill County

Since the Attorney General filed his law suit against East Brunswick, these (and perhaps other) municipalities have adopted Ordinances to prohibit and make impractical the surface dumping of sewage sludge:

Mahanoy Township in Schuylkill County
Packer Township in Carbon County
Branch Township in Schuylkill County


Others communities are actively considering adoption of similar Ordinances, including Shrewsbury Township in York County, which has voted to advertise a public hearing to consider adoption, with a vote likely in September.