Activists, including those in Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, and Assateague Coastal Trust, held a press conference with Food & Water Watch at University of Maryland Eastern Shore prior to the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.’s Town Hall on their ambient air monitoring “study”.
Residents across Maryland have been trying to pass the Community Healthy Air Act to compel Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to do a comprehensive study of air emissions from poultry factory farms. The bill requires a panel of experts to design a study protocol that MDE must use to collect and analyze data. It also requires MDE to provide a full report with a public health assessment and a determination of the industry’s compliance with clean air laws. Now, the industry in question has joined hands with the government to try to mask evading transparency with a self-monitoring proposal.
“For years, our local governments and state representatives have dismissed Eastern Shore communities’ calls for protection against threats to air quality and our drinking water from industrial-sized poultry operations,” said Mary Ashanti, President of Wicomico County NAACP. “Meanwhile, childhood asthma, lung cancer, and lung disease rates on the Lower Eastern Shore continue to be some of the highest in the state.”
“A plan to self-monitor is absolutely unacceptable,” said Rebecca Wolf of Food & Water Watch. “Maryland Department of the Environment’s job is to protect public health and the environment, not support the poultry industry’s bottom line. The Community Healthy Air Act provides a framework for a robust analysis and public health assessment of the air blowing out of these factory farms. The Eastern Shore community deserves nothing less.”
For the third year in a row Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., Farm Bureau, and the Eastern Shore Delegation vigorously opposed the Community Healthy Air Act (CHAA) claiming that the emissions from factory farms are not a health problem and do not need to be studied.
“What MDE has given the industry is a free pass,” said Sacoby Wilson, Director of Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health at University of Maryland’s School of Public Health “It's ironic that MDE admits their job is to protect public health. This agreement will do just the opposite. Through CHAA, we have an opportunity to develop a comprehensive monitoring plan. What we need is not two air quality monitoring stations, but onsite monitoring within poultry barns, near litter piles, at the fenceline, and at background locations.”
Kathy Phillips of Assateague Coastal Trust said, "Too little, too late. This study is too limited in scope and it is not designed to meet the community's needs or their desire for a public health assessment of air emissions from poultry factory farms."
Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., is now claiming their own study will suffice in finding the data we need to protect eastern shore residents from their pollution. Activists oppose the sentiment.
A Memorandum of Understanding between Delmarva Poultry Industry and Maryland Department of the Environment can be found here: http://bit.ly/2UBbKcL