ALERT FOR PEN MEMBERS AND FRIENDS
from the PEN SLUDGE TEAM, Tina Daly, Chair
May 11, 2002
Dear Pen Members and Friends:
I am sure you have all read the attached ALERT from Tom Linzey of CELDF
regarding Senate Bill 1413. This bill is about the pre-emption of townships
to pass ordinances that relate to CAFOs and Sludge. His alert is very clear
and this is to request that you take another look at it and then take action.
Here is what is going on: this bill moved extremely quickly through the
Senate and was voted on. It then went to the House where it was moving fast.
However, it has slowed down (thanks to Mr. Linzey, I presume) and is now in
the House Appropriations Committee. The next possible date it could be
brought up is June 3,2002. We have lots of work ahead of us before then.
We need two things from each person who reads this:
1. Please write to or call your Township Supervisors and let them know you
OPPOSE SB 14l3 and that you would like them to oppose it as well. Give them
a copy of Tom Linzey's Alert. Ask them to make their opposition known to
the PSATS: the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors. Ask
them to also make their opposition known to their State Representative. Be
sure to let them know you hope they act prior to June 3.
2. We need you to write to your State Representative and let him or her know
you are opposed to SB 1413 and that you would like them to also oppose it.
Ask them to let you know their thoughts on SB 1413. Keep in mind that this
is an election year.
If you have any energy after all that, let us know how you made out.
The PEN Sludge Team has been working for over a decade on sludge issues and
for at least three years we have been fighting pre-emption. You may recall
we handed out alerts at EJ Day last spring. We want local governments to be
able to pass ordinances regulating the use of sludge and cafos. PEN's Policy
on Sludge: PEN is opposed to the land application of sludge and sludge
products. As you probably know, one of the largest sites on line for
information on Sludge belongs to PEN: we are very proud of our site and hope
you will visit it if you have questions about sludge. SB 1413 is really
about pre-emption, but is related to the sludge issue.
I want to recognize members of the Sludge Team and our Friends who have
worked so hard to have their Townships pass Ordinances related to the use of
sludge: they were winning the battle and that is why the Sludge Industry
wants this bill so badly. Our work has mattered and we have made headway but
we need your help again now.
If you have questions please e mail me. Thanks.
Action Alert for Pennsylvania
Factory Farm and Sewage Sludge Activists
Local Control Over Factory Farm and Sludge Ordinances
Threatened by Senate Bill 1413
In a legislative sleight of hand, Senator Roger Madigan
(R-Bradford) and other state Senators recently transformed Senate Bill
826 into a renumbered Senate Bill 1413. The infamous Senate Bill 826
drew the ire of Township Supervisors, family farmers, and community
leaders because the Bill sought to remove local control over Ordinances
aimed at controlling corporate factory farms across the State.
Instead of amending Senate Bill 826, Madigan and others
introduced SB 1413 on April 17th. The Bill promptly was voted out of the
Senate Ag Committee and will come up for a vote of the full Senate the
week of April 29th. Due to the sleight of hand and the misinformation
that co-sponsors have generated, there’s a good chance that SB 1413 will
pass the full Senate.
Even with the sleight of hand, two influential Senators –
Senator Brightbill (R-Lebanon) and Senator Jubelirer (R-Bedford) –
removed their names as co-sponsors of the Bill.
To gain the support of other Senators, Madigan generalized the
original language of SB 826 when he rewrote the Bill into SB 1413. That
generalization now threatens to remove not only local, Township control
over corporate factory farms, but also threatens Township governments
which have adopted – or which plan to adopt – local Ordinances dealing
with the application of sewage sludge to land.
What does SB 1413 Do?
SB 1413 expands Pennsylvania’s Right to Farm Law by prohibiting
municipal governments from adopting Ordinances which restrict “normal
agricultural operations.” The Bill then proceeds to authorize lawsuits
against municipalities that adopt those Ordinances, and authorizes the
payment of attorneys’ fees against the municipalities in favor of the
agribusiness corporations which would sue them.
Because of the Bill’s focus on “normal agricultural
operations”, the Bill creates an umbrella under which special corporate
interests – both agribusiness and sludge corporations – can sue to
overturn local Ordinances which threaten their profits.
Even more dangerous is the provision for attorneys’ fees, which
will enable sludge and agribusiness corporations to threaten Township
governments with the payment of onerous attorneys’ fees to the
plaintiff-corporation. That provision will have the impact of dissuading
the passage of Ordinances even before debate occurs within the local
What Steps Can We Take to Defeat this Legislation?
SB 1413 is headed to the House of Representatives in early May.
It is imperative that House members hear from family farmers, factory
farm opponents, community leaders, sewage sludge activists, and Township
Supervisors who have adopted local sewage sludge or factory farm
Those legislators need to be informed that the Bill strips away
local control to deal with these issues, and is purely an effort by
special interests to further shield their activities from the assertion
of local, democratic control.
Why Isn’t the State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) Doing
Anything to Defeat this Bill?
Late last year, the Executive Board of the Township Supervisors
Association met secretly with Senator Madigan, the Pennsylvania Farm
Bureau, and PennAg Industries Association (factory farm trade
association in the state), to hammer out a compromise on the Bill which
would enable PSATS to not oppose the Bill. The PSATS Executive Board
then placed a surprise resolution on the ballot for the PSATS Convention
in Hershey which occurred in the beginning of April, in an attempt to
get Townships’ support for not opposing the Bill.
Even though it was a surprise resolution, over three hundred
and fifty Township governments voted the Executive Board’s resolution
down. Even though the management of PSATS has now been directed to
oppose the legislation, the Executive Board is refusing to publicly
oppose the Bill in the Senate. Thus, there are few organized voices
resisting this stripping away of local control.
In addition to that resolution, another resolution – introduced
by the Centre County Association of Township Supervisors - which sought
to protect local control to adopt sludge ordinances – was approved
unanimously by the Supervisors at the Convention.
Thus, even though the Executive Board of PSATS has been sent
two very strong messages on this Bill, they have refused to use PSATS’
resources to make that opposition known to state Senators. As a result,
many Senators who are either co-sponsoring or supporting SB 1413 are
unaware that PSATS’ membership has voted to reject it.
What Can Our Township Supervisors Do to Stop this Bill?
First, Supervisors need to contact PSATS and demand that PSATS
take a public stand against SB 1413. Supervisors also need to let PSATS
know that they are displeased that PSATS is blatantly ignoring the
wishes of their own membership.
Secondly, Supervisors need to contact their Representatives, to
urge them to vote in opposition to SB 1413
What Has Been the Farm Bureau’s Role in Getting this Bill Moved?
On April 25th, an internal Farm Bureau Memorandum was leaked to
the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. In that Memo, the Farm
Bureau recounted the secretive meeting between the Farm Bureau, PennAg
Industries Association, and PSATS. The Farm Bureau has been the most
vocal supporter of this legislation, convincing its members to contact
legislators to support the Bill.
The Farm Bureau has also taken the lead in branding opponents
to this legislation as “anti-agriculture” and the Ordinances being
adopted by Townships as being “illegal” attempts to destroy agriculture
in the Commonwealth.
A copy of the full Bill can be found here: