Pennsylvania Fertilizer Bill

Dear Committee Members:

We write as members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, representing more than 225 conservation, sportsmen, faith and environmental groups, working to restore and conserve clean water in the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay Watersheds. We urge you to support Senate Bill 792 (Sen. Alloway), which is set for consideration today in the Senate Agriculture and rural Affairs Committee. This bill aims to reduce water pollution from the use of fertilizer on lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and other uses of turf.

SB 792 has received significant input from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and farm interests, and we feel that this is the next common-sense step in reducing the amount of nutrients flowing into our waterways and harming wildlife and water quality. We believe that SB 792 should be supported for the following reasons:

1. SB 792 will create a level playing field across the state and protect local waters. Over 2,600 miles of the Commonwealth’s streams are impaired due to excess nutrients and this bill moves Pennsylvania toward one standard across the region, providing regional companies with similar market requirements to those in neighboring states that have similar fertilizer standards. This legislation does not apply to agriculture production.

2. SB 792 limits the use of phosphorous and nitrogen in fertilizers. Established lawns and turf often do not need phosphorus and only need reasonable amounts of nitrogen. Yet, the excess use of phosphorus and nitrogen is a risk for local freshwaters and is a leading cause of algal blooms that deprive the waters of oxygen and harm aquatic life. SB 792 reduces the use of nitrogen in fertilizers and limits the use of phosphorous to specially marked fertilizers for use in specific circumstances, such as if a soil test indicates its need, or the lawn is new.

3. SB 792 creates common-sense standards for fertilizer application and certification for professional fertilizer applicators. Residential users and applicators tend to apply fertilizer without properly calibrating their spreader and measuring area to use an accurate application rate.

We feel that these are fair and reasonable standards that will help Pennsylvania reduce nutrient pollution, which harms our streams, the Susquehanna River, its tributaries, and the Chesapeake Bay. Thank you for your consideration of this very important legislation and we urge your support in Committee.

Sincerely,

PennFuture
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association
Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association
Nature Abounds

Please contact Ezra P. Thrush, Campaign Manager for Watershed Advocacy at PennFuture and state lead for the Choose Clean Water Coalition, at 717.214.7926 or thrush@pennfuture.org with any questions or concerns.

PDF version: Pennsylvania Fertilizer Bill