MARYLAND CLEAN AGRICULTURE COALITION
Contact: Dawn Stoltzfus, The Hatcher Group, (410) 562-5655 cell
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2015
Environmental Groups Welcome Next Step for Long-Delayed
Phosphorus Management Tool to Reduce Farm Pollution
After four years and multiple attempts, pollution-reducing measure gets closer to reality
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Hoping the fourth time is a charm, the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition today welcomed the printing of Phosphorus Management Tool regulations in the Maryland Register. Environmentalists, farmers and elected officials alike agree that phosphorus pollution making its way into local waters is a problem and worked together on these regulations as a solution. A 30-day public comment now begins for the regulations, which could be final June 8th.
“Maryland pledged to start using the Phosphorus Management Tool in 2011. But although the tool is delayed, these revised regulations represent progress toward reducing pollution from agriculture – which we absolutely must do to protect the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways, as well as public health,” said Karla Raettig, Executive Director, Maryland League of Conservation Voters and co-chair of the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition.
“We thank Senator Pinsky for his incredible leadership, which helped us achieve these stronger rules, as well as Delegate Lafferty and the Chesapeake Bay Commission,” continued Kaettig. “We also thank the Hogan Administration for listening to our concerns about clean water and working to address them.”
The revised regulations published today eliminate a significant loophole in the February 2015 draft regulations that advocates worried could have allowed for multiple delays, with no date certain for final implementation. They include a 2022 implementation date but still allow for up to two, one-year extensions. An advisory committee that will evaluate whether an extension is needed includes three environmental organizations and other state agencies. Advocates also applaud the Administration’s “immediate ban of additional phosphorus on soils highest in phosphorus.”
“We must ensure that these long-overdue regulations accomplish their purpose – to clean up our waters — and that they don’t get weakened or delayed in the months or years to come,” said Abel Russ, Attorney, Environmental Integrity Project. “For too long, industrial farms have dumped excess animal waste onto oversaturated farm fields, compromising the health of our waters and our communities. We will be vigilant over the next seven years to ensure this science-based tool is working on the ground as intended.”
“Water samples show that phosphorus pollution is worsening on the Eastern Shore, so we welcome this much-needed tool,” said Jeff Horstman, Deputy Director, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy. “Eastern Shore residents have watched as our local waters – including our largest river, the Choptank, have grown more and more polluted due to agricultural pollution. Families, farmers, watermen — all of us on the Eastern Shore want clean water.”
The U.S. Geological Survey recently released a report showing that Eastern Shore waterways have levels of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution that are among the “highest in the nation” due to agricultural operations.
The Phosphorus Management Tool would reduce pollution by halting the excessive uses of manure on farm fields already contaminated with too much phosphorus. Phosphorus pollution causes algae blooms that threaten public health; kill underwater grasses; harm aquatic life like blue crabs, oysters and fish; and create an enormous “dead zone” in the Bay. Read a fact sheet about the tool here.
The Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition is working to improve Maryland waterways and protect public health by reducing pollution, and increasing transparency and accountability, from agriculture and other associated sources of water degradation.
Its partners include: Anacostia Riverkeeper, Audubon Naturalist Society, Assateague Coastal Trust, Blue Water Baltimore, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Clean Water Action, Environment Maryland, Environmental Integrity Project, Gunpowder Riverkeeper, League of Women Voters of Maryland, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Maryland Pesticide Education Network, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Potomac Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter, South River Federation, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, West/Rhode Riverkeeper
Download this press release (PDF)