From the Desk of Alan Girard Winter 2016

A Lesson in Fairness: Taking Responsibility 

Maryland's Eastern Shore Director Alan Girard. Photo by Nikki Davis.
CBF's Eastern Shore of Maryland Director Alan Girard. Photo by Nikki Davis.

Fairness. It's a principle we learn early in life. And it's at the foundation of our collective work to restore our waters to health.

When my toddler takes away something that belongs to his four-year-old sister, you can hear the scream before it happens: "THAT'S NOT FAIR!" Even as young children, the concept of responsibility shapes how we relate with each other, and the world around us. Sometimes the learning is abrupt.

The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is more measured in its approach to fairness (at least compared to what happens around my house). It uses science to set a standard for healthy waters. Responsibility to meet those standards is shared across pollution sectors and the jurisdictions where pollution originates. And an implementation timetable helps ensure that there's accountability for the progress we all want.

Citizens, businesses, and governments are taking their obligation to stop pollution under the Blueprint seriously. But some could and should do more. This legislative session in Annapolis, poultry companies are being asked to do their part for clean water.

The legislation being considered now by lawmakers would require poultry companies to collect and legally dispose of excess manure chicken growers can't safely use on site. Currently, these growers are left with the responsibility for managing chicken waste, even though the industry owns the chickens, supplies the feed, and oversees many aspects of the operation. Maryland taxpayers pick up some of the clean-up tab, supplying revenue for programs that treat pollution from manure, which otherwise could foul rivers and creeks.  

It's common sense that the poultry companies should take full responsibility for excess chicken poop farmers don't want. By doing their part, these companies can be more respectful of farmers, taxpayers, and the rest of us who are working hard to keep our waters safe and healthy for ourselves and the next generation. Click here to urge your elected leaders to support this important legislation.

The message to the poultry companies is clear and simple. And it's consistent with what we teach our young people: Take responsibility for your actions. It's only fair.

—Alan Girard
Eastern Shore of Maryland Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation


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