(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation announced their opposition to the Hogan Administration's proposed Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations, after conducting a detailed analysis of the regulations, and released the following joint statement:
"We commend the Hogan Administration for taking the problem of phosphorus pollution seriously and are pleased that the Administration embraces the scientific evidence showing we must implement the Phosphorus Management Tool to better manage manure on oversaturated farm fields.
"The environmental community was not involved in the drafting of Governor Hogan's proposed regulations that were released on Tuesday, and we have gone over them carefully since. Unfortunately, the regulations do not provide the adequate protection or assurance we need, and as such, we must oppose them. Our concerns are detailed in the attached analysis.
"The regulations include a significant loophole, referred to by the agricultural industry as a "safety net," that makes it unclear if they would ever result in full implementation of this much-needed tool. We adamantly oppose this lack of a clear, enforceable end date for putting the Phosphorus Management Tool into place.
"It is also unclear whether the proposed ban on phosphorus on fields with FIV over 500 would actually reduce the amount of manure being applied to farm fields or protect Maryland water quality. The Maryland Department of Agriculture has been unable to clarify this.
"Additionally, the regulations add one more year of delay, and they include troublesome secrecy provisions.
"We continue to whole-heartedly support legislation sponsored by Senator Pinsky and Delegate Lafferty (SB 257 / HB 381) to implement the Phosphorus Management Tool with a six-year phase-in. Given the difficulties we've had with the regulatory process over the past three years, we prefer having a strong statute in place."
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.
Maryland's 2010 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) committed the state to updating the Phosphorus Management Tool in 2011. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, Maryland's agriculture sector is just 51 percent of the way toward meeting its 2017 goal to reduce phosphorus.
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.
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 - 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
Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay. Serving as a watchdog, we fight for effective, science-based solutions to the pollution degrading the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. Our motto, "Save the Bay," is a regional rallying cry for pollution reduction throughout the Chesapeake's six-state, 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to more than 17 million people and 3,000 species of plants and animals.