Friday 24 May 2019

Agriculture (34)

We had some important legislative wins for clean water in Maryland. But first let’s give a big shout out to the amazing win in Virginia on cleaning up a legacy of toxic coal ash stored on our river banks! Virginia Safe Disposal of Coal Ash - Great news in Virginia! On March 20, Governor Northam signed into law a bill (SB 1355) to safely dispose of 28 million tons of toxic coal ash Dominion Energy now has stored on the banks of the Potomac, James and Elizabeth Rivers. This bill sets a national precedent for how to safely remove a legacy of toxic coal ash stored along our waterways in our region and across the nation. Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks and James Riverkeeper Jamie Brunkow have worked for the past 5 years with local communities and legislators to fight Dominion's plan to cap-in-placecoal ash ponds that eventually leak into our waterways. This bill requires all legacy coal ash in the Commonwealth be recycled or safely landfilled within 15 years, rather than left in the current dangerous state of cap-in-place. Maryland Comprehensive Agriculture Reporting and Enforcement Bill (Del. Stewart – HB904 | Sen. Pinsky – SB546) This bill is arguably one of the most important agriculture bills that has gained traction in the Maryland General Assembly in the past decade. It will improve transparency and fairness in the State’s industrial agriculture permitting program, create penalties for violations of phosphorous pollution regulations, and improve the state’s overall agricultural enforcement efforts. It will prevent the state from waiving permit fees for…
Bill would help implement the Phosphorus Management Tool, improve industrial agriculture permitting and reinstate Eastern Shore water quality monitors ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland General Assembly gave final approval to SB 546, a bill that would give the state more information about agriculture practices, manure transport and water quality on the Eastern Shore, as well improve the permitting process for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The bill now heads to Governor Hogan’s desk for his signature.  Maryland has several laws on the books to help prevent pollution from agriculture, including the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations passed in 2015 to stop overapplication of manure on farm fields. However, progress to reduce pollution is hamstrung by a lack of useful data, as well as a dysfunctional permitting system. Advocates say many aspects of the bill make improvements that the environmental community has been working on for years. “Fixing the CAFO permitting process is a huge win for the Lower Eastern Shore,” said Kathy Phillips, Assateague Coastkeeper. “For years, these large, industrial chicken operations have been encroaching on people’s homes without ample notice. By requiring the fee and all permits to be in hand before construction can begin, Maryland is protecting both homeowners and clean water.” The final bill, which included amendments agreed to by agricultural interests, will help the agriculture industry comply with the PMT, effectively enforce nutrient management plans and update current state reporting forms to track manure transport and land application through private transfers. It would also change the discharge permitting…
Bill would help implement the Phosphorus Management Tool, improve industrial agriculture permitting and reinstate Eastern Shore water quality monitors ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Senate voted 32-15 today to approve SB 546, a bill that would give the state more information about agriculture practices, manure transport and water quality on the Eastern Shore. It would also change the discharge permitting process for constructing new industrial agriculture Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to ensure more transparency and discontinue the decades-long waiver of permit fees.  “We need to collect better data and ensure we are enforcing the laws we have to reduce pollution,” said Senator Paul Pinsky (D-22), lead sponsor of SB 546 and chairman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. “Most Maryland farmers are doing their part to protect waterways, but the fact is that agriculture remains the single, largest source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. We need to make sure the entire system is working effectively so we can protect clean water.” Maryland has several laws on the books to help prevent pollution from agriculture, including the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations passed in 2015 to stop overapplication of manure on farm fields. However, advocates say that progress to reduce pollution is hamstrung by a lack of useful data, as well as a dysfunctional permitting system. “The Chesapeake Bay is showing signs of progress, but many threats remain,” said Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “The PMT and other nutrient management laws are our best chance…