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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In Pennsylvania

PDA Issues New Draft Noxious Weed Law Rewrite

Thursday, May 1, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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Canada ThistleHARRISBURG – 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 draft are:

·      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 members.

·      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 industry.

·      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. 

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