Thursday, June 18, 2020

CANCELED FOR JUNE 22: Bill Taking Money From Farmers For Conservation Work At The Time They Need It Most To Be Considered By House Committee June 22

CANCELED FOR JUNE 22: On June 22, the
House State Government Committee is scheduled to consider Senate Bill 575 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) which takes money away from conservation efforts by farmers at precisely the time farmers need it most.
The bill was introduced with the support of the Coalition For Affordable Bay Solutions, an industry-led coalition of private companies promoting expensive manure treatment technologies and manure to energy processing plants.

The complicated, time consuming process in Senate Bill 575 would guarantee only large companies with access to lots of resources could take part in the complicated bidding process established in the bill.  These companies typically promote higher cost bricks and mortar treatment solutions to deliver nutrient pollution reductions.

No small farmer, who could install much cheaper Best Management Practices in terms of cost per pound of pollution reduced through the installation of proven green infrastructure, would bother to participate in bidding with all that upfront expense and paperwork.

If the only people who can bid in these complicated processes are companies with the more expensive options, this process will guarantee it presents agencies with the choice of only picking more expensive options.

An amendment to be offered in Committee makes this bill no better.

Any taxpayer money used to support this complicated scheme to promote more expensive nutrient reduction solutions is money taken away from farmers who need it most.

The meeting will be held on June 22 in Room G-50 of the Irvis Building at the Call of the Chair, which means it could be held at any time after the House convenes at 1:00 p.m.  Click Here to watch online.

Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the House State Government Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-5270 or sending email to:   Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-Montgomery) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-783-4944 or sending email to:

Cost-Effective Solutions

Stakeholder-driven Chesapeake Bay Watershed Plan for Pennsylvania found there was a deficit of $324 million in funding needed each year for the next six years to clean up streams and rivers in the 42-county Bay watershed.

Two-thirds of that funding was needed by farmers to implement low-cost, effective on-farm conservation measures like stream buffers, increasing soil health, expanded nutrient management and manure storage facilities and efforts to increase compliance with existing requirements. Read more here.

Matt Johnston of the University of Maryland Chesapeake Bay Program and Dr. Emily Trentacoste of the U.S. Geological Survey presented the PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee with a list of the top 11 most cost effective practices to reduce nitrogen going to the Chesapeake Bay based on all this experience and data in the Chesapeake Bay Program (page 73 of his presentation).

The practices include alternative crops on farmland at $1/pound of nitrogen reduced to exclusion fencing with grass buffers at $6/pound.

In between are-- less expensive to more-- were water quality conservation plans, grass buffers on row crops, barnyard runoff control, water control structures, wetland restoration, forest buffers on row crops ($2/pound), narrow buffers on row crops, narrow forest buffers on row crops and nutrient management on the land.

None of the top 11 most cost effective practices included bricks and mortar treatment solutions which, in one manure treatment configuration, can need a cost of from $10 to $13/pound to operate the promoters have said.

An existing, competitive Nutrient Credit Auction Program run by the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority resulted in nitrogen credit sales of $2.25 per pound in September 2018. 

Since the more expensive pollution reduction technology cannot compete in this market-based program because their costs are too high, a new one had to be created in Senate Bill 575.

In addition, a stakeholder group convened in 2013, including farmers, local officials, environmental groups and legislative representatives, did not see a similar proposal as a useful tool in an already complex Chesapeake Bay Program.  Read more here.

For more information on how Pennsylvania plans to meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations, visit DEP’s PA’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan webpage.

(Photo: Exclusion fencing with buffer vs. Energyworks poultry manure plant, Adams County - which do you think is cheaper?)

Related Articles:

-- Final PA Chesapeake Bay Implementation Plan Still Falls Short Of Required Water Pollution Reductions

-- EPA Says PA’s Final Chesapeake Bay Plan Falls 25% Short Of Meeting Necessary Nitrogen Reductions, Fails To Identify Funding To Implement The Plan

-- DEP, Agriculture, DCNR Layout Their Hopes For Final Chesapeake Bay Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities Watershed Plan

-- Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Other States Give Notice To EPA Of Intent To Sue Over Failure To Hold PA, NY Accountable For Meeting Bay Cleanup Milestones

-- New Online Storymap Shares Tips, Shows Benefits Of Improving Water Quality In PA's Part Of Chesapeake Bay Watershed

-- Senate Passes Bill To Control Overuse Of Fertilizer On Turf, Certify Applicators; Now Goes To House Where It Died Last Session

[Posted: June 18, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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