Despite all the rhetoric about how important it is to have an unpolluted and healthy Chesapeake Bay, sometimes you just have to wonder if anyone is really taking this Bay cleanup issue seriously. We’ve known for years now that agricultural operations in the Bay states are the number one source of nutrients and sediments to the watershed, yet neither state nor federal regulators have shown any willingness to do any of the things – permitting, compliance mandates and enforcement – that have worked well with so many other polluting industries.
While power plants, paper mills, sewage treatment plants and manufacturing plants have largely been cleaned up through the implementation of regulatory “stick” approaches, the chosen method of ag pollution abatement comprises of a series of unsuccessful, voluntary “carrot” approaches, including manure transport programs and nutrient trading.
After decades of failure, we’re about to reach new depths of futility with a bill, largely written by Maryland’s own Department of Agriculture, which was introduced this legislative session in Maryland by Senator Thomas Middleton. Middleton’s “Ag Certainty” bill will not only make certain that these highly polluting operations continue to pollute with officially sanctioned immunity, but it will also openly undermine the current Bay cleanup plan – the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).
Ag Certainty refers to a program under which agricultural operations that certify that they meet pollution reduction goals or certain pollution-control requirements will be deemed in compliance with existing and/or future water quality regulations and standards. In short, it’s a blanket immunity program designed to offer Big Ag a continuing free ride from mandatory pollution control and enforcement. Even worse, it ties regulator’s hands when it comes to implementing more protective water quality approaches when needed. Read the full article…