Environmental Advocates Call on Administration to Stop Delaying Promised Rules to Reduce Pollution from Manure

August 4, 2014

Contact: Dawn Stoltzfus, The Hatcher Group, 410 990 0284


(Annapolis, MD)– A coalition of nonprofit organizations working to reduce pollution and increase transparency from the agricultural industry said new scientific analysis from the Chesapeake Bay Program proves that implementing the Phosphorus Management Tool in Maryland would allow agriculture to meet its Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction commitments.

“This new evidence from the Bay Program is very exciting, because it shows the significant reductions of agricultural pollution Maryland would achieve by implementing the Phosphorus Management Tool,” said Bob Gallagher, of West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc., and co-chair of the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition.

“The phosphorus management tool could be the single, most effective thing Maryland could do to meet our Chesapeake Bay cleanup commitments,” continued Gallagher.

The science-based Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) would reduce pollution by limiting the use of manure applied to farm fields already contaminated with excess levels phosphorus. The Chesapeake Bay Program analysis was requested as part of an economic costs-benefits evaluation of the PMT. The analysis concludes that using the new PMT would achieve significant progress:

  • If excess manure was transported out of the Bay watershedto areas that need phosphorus, Maryland agriculture could “make 97% of the needed reductions to meet its 2017 targets for phosphorus.”
  • If excess manure was transported to other counties in the state that need phosphorus, Maryland agriculture could “make 48% of the needed reductions to meet its 2017 targets for phosphorus.”

Read a letter describing the new findings here.

“The O’Malley Administration committed to the federal government – and to the people of Maryland – to implement these phosphorus rules three years ago, “ said Joanna Diamond of Environment Maryland, also a co-chair of Clean Agriculture Coalition. “Since then, the Administration and the General Assembly delayed and delayed, despite mounting evidence of agriculture contaminating our waters with phosphorus pollution. It’s not too late for Maryland to listen to the science.”

The Bay Program findings follow a recent report by the Environmental Integrity Project that analyzed trends in phosphorus pollution levels from 2003 to 2013 in the eight major rivers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Their analysis showed no improvement over those ten years – despite the agriculture industry’s repeated claims of great success in reducing phosphorus pollution. The report found phosphorus pollution levels actually worsened in rural watersheds such as the Nanticoke, the Sassafras and the Transquaking Rivers.

In June, the Baltimore Sun reported on another study that concluded phosphorus produced by the Maryland poultry industry is increasing because of larger birds that produce more waste, and that phosphorus pollution has remained unchanged in nearly two-thirds of the rivers and streams tested and worsened in 16 percent.

Maryland’s 2010 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) committed the state to updating the Phosphorus Management Tool in 2011. However, the regulations have been repeatedly delayed due to political objections from agricultural industry lobbyists and pressures from legislative leaders.

In November 2013, the O’Malley/Brown Administration withdrew its proposed PMT regulations for the second time in four months but committed to completing them before the end of O’Malley’s term.

In the 2014 General Assembly session, legislators approved a budget amendment that prohibited the state from finalizing regulations to reduce phosphorus pollution until the completion of an economic study. Salisbury University is currently conducting the study, which, according to some panel members, has been tainted with political pressure and a lack of objectivity by the economists.

According to BayStat, agriculture is the single, largest source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland waterways, and more than half of Maryland’s phosphorus pollution comes from farms. 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.


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.


Anacostia Riverkeeper – Audubon Naturalist Society – Assateague Coastal Trust – Blue Water Baltimore – Chesapeake Climate Action Network – Clean Water Action – Common Cause Maryland – Environment Maryland –League of Women Voters of Maryland – Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper – Maryland League of Conservation Voters – Maryland Pesticide Network – National Wildlife Federation, Mid-Atlantic Regional Center – Potomac Riverkeeper – Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter – South River Federation – Waterkeepers Chesapeake – West/Rhode Riverkeeper

Download this press release (PDF)