PDA Issues New Draft Noxious Weed Law Rewrite
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
(PDA) released the third draft of its rewrite of the state’s Noxious Weed law. The
new law would significantly broaden PDA’s authority to control plants that are
deemed noxious or otherwise threaten the environment.
Several changes advocated by PLNA had been made in the
draft, but several serious flaws still remain.
Among the positive changes advocated by PLNA and made in the
· The Agriculture Secretary no longer has
unilateral power to add plants to the list of noxious weeds and controlled
plants. All such decisions much go through the Noxious Weed and Controlled
Plant Committee (NWCPC), a regulatory body comprised of governmental and public
· Plants added to the list by the NWCPC will be
published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin
and become effective after sixty days. Under the prior draft, plants added to
the list were not published in the Bulletin
and became effective immediately.
· Five public members were added to the NWCPC,
three from agriculture, one from academia and one environmental representative.
PLNA’s continuing concerns with the draft include:
· There is no guaranteed position for a
representative of the landscape and nursery industry on the NWCPC, the body
that will make decisions about placing plants on the noxious weed and
controlled plant lists. Under the current draft, the landscape and nursery
industry would have to “share” a position with the forestry and wood products
· The governmental members of the NWCPC may have
alternates, but the public members may not. PLNA pointed out that it is unfair
that public members of the committee, who volunteer their time, are not
permitted to have alternates attend the meeting if they could not attend. On
the other hand, governmental representatives on the committee, who are paid by
tax payers to attend such meetings, may have alternates attend in their place.
· Under the current draft, public members of the
NWCPC may only serve a four year term while governmental representatives may
serve indefinite terms.
· There are strict attendance requirements for the
public members of the NWCPC, while there are no attendance requirements for the
governmental representatives. The current draft also contains procedures to
remove a public member for attendance lapses, while no such procedures apply to
the governmental members.
· There is no provision for public review and
comment before a plant is added to the list of noxious and controlled plants
list. Under the current draft, once a plant is listed and published in the
Pennsylvania Bulletin, the decision is final. There is no established public
comment period during the decision-making process.
You may download a copy of the latest draft of the new
Noxious Weed and Controlled Plants Act by clicking click here. Please forward comments
to Gregg Robertson at PLNA by email
or call 717.238.2033 no later than May 9, 2014.