After decades of effort, the voluntary, collaborative approach to restoring the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay— the largest estuary in the United States—has not worked and, in fact, is failing. A diverse group of 57 senior scientists and policymakers have joined forces to save the Bay. This is our plan.

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Senior Scientists And Policmakers For The Bay Join With Other Conservation Groups In Urging Better Regulation Of Tons Of Raw Animal Manure.

Thousands of tons of raw animal manure is put on Maryland farm fields each year from tens of millions of chickens and hundreds of thousands of pigs, cows, and other farm animals. Under pressure to reduce this significant source of Bay pollutants, the Maryland Department of Agriculture proposed soft new nutrient management regulations to deal with this problem last October but withdrew them under pressure from the farm and environmental community. These regulations were to better manage the farm application of manure, human sludge, and other fertilizers but were greatly weakened to meet the objections of the ag lobby.

After eight months of negotiations and efforts to strengthen the regulations as we have advocated in our Bay Action Plan [Nutrient Management Letter to Governor-Bay Cabinet], new regulations were proposed and published in the Maryland Register on June 29. These regs are still much too weak and fall well short of the Senior Scientists and Policymakers for the Bay science-based positions. Representatives of our group had discussed our positions in detail with the Bay Cabinet at a meeting last September. We have continued to advocate these common sense positions and members of our group sent detailed letter to the Governor and published an Op-ed in the Baltimore Sun ]NMR Sun OpEd No more half-measures June 18 2012 detailing the need for better management of animal manure and other nutrients.

Essentially, our recommendations center on the belief that that all animal manure—and all biosolids—should be regulated the same as human sludge from advanced wastewater treatment plants is regulated under MDE regs when these nutrient-containing materials are applied to farm land. Working with all major Maryland environmental groups, our recomemndations were fine tuned and those of other groups were combined in a JOINT STATEMENT calling for the adoption of the proposed regulations with 8 ESSENTIAL CHANGES. These changes address the shortcomings in the proposed manure regulations. The 8 Essential Changes in the proposed regs would do a lot to reduce nutrients that are choking the Bay–more than almost any other proposed or current law or regulation. NMR ENVIRO STATEMENT W Sign ons July 3 2012

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

The conservation community needs your help in working to gain the changes we have long supported. Remember the serious diseased fish and human infections in 1997 linked to excess nutrients from manure and other farm activities? Here’s help you can help in our uphill battle to improve the regulations:

1. SEND IN AN EMAILED LTR OF SUPPORT TO THE AELR COMMITTEE.

The Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review held a legislative hearing on July 10 at which the Maryland Farm Bureau and rural legislators attacked the proposed regulations. Conservation groups testified in support of the adoption of the proposed regulations with the 8 Essential Changes. Please send a letter supporting the adoption of the proposed regulations with the 8 ESSENTIAL CHANGES. you should email it to the AELR Committee Chairs: Senator Paul Pinsky via Ian Ullman, <IUllman@senate.state.md.us> and Delegate Anne Healey at: anne.healey@house.state.md.us  Address the email to: Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review, c/o Department of Legislative Services, Legislative Services Building, 90 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401 and send copies to the two Legislative Services staff members, Mr. Isaacson: evan.isaacson@mlis.state.md.ud and Ms. Razulis at: marie.razulis@mlis.state.md.us asking that your email ltr be delivered to all AELR Committee members.

2. ATTEND AND SPEAK AT A REGIONAL MDA HEARING ON THE REGS.

Our group of Senior Scientists and Policymakers is working with others in the conservation community to assure a good turnout and to present a unified stand at the MDA hearings on the regs. You can present your support for adoption of the regulations as in the Joint Statement and of the 8 ESSENTIAL CHANGES and add your own personal insights and try to have others attend the meetings in Easton and Prince Frederick. The meetings run from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Eastern Shore

Monday, July 23, 2012

Talbot Community Center

10028 Ocean Gateway

Easton, MD 21601

Southern Maryland

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Calvert County Fairgrounds

140 Calvert Fair Drive

Prince Frederick, MD 20610

3. SEND IN AN EMAILED OR FAX’D LTR OF SUPPORT TO MDA.

Written comments may be sent to Jo Mercer, Ed.D., Program Manager, MDA’s Nutrient Management Program, Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401, or email: jo.mercer@maryland.gov, or fax to (410) 841-5950. Comments will be accepted through August 13, 2012. Urge adoption of the proposed nutrient management regulations with the 8 ESSENTIAL CHANGES.

 

 

No more half-measures for the bay: O’Malley administration’s proposed regulations on agricultural waste aren’t strong enough

After 28 years of formal efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the single most successful efforts have been in curbing bay-choking nutrient pollutants from sewerage treatment plants, so-called “point sources” from pipes. Maryland has been a leader in these efforts with passage of the Flush Tax in 2004 and its extension in 2012. This will assure that 69 of the largest Maryland plants will be removing both phosphorus and nitrogen to very low levels, approaching the limits of technology. These efforts are paid for by most Marylanders by fees on water and sewer bills.Continue Reading