A December 8 Baltimore Sun article reported that Governor-Elect Larry Hogan has promised farmers that he will make the repeal of recently adopted phosphorus management tool (PMT) regulations his “first fight” in office. The new PMT regulations would prohibit the application of poultry manure, animal waste, and sewage sludge on farmland that contains a certain level of phosphorus. Advocates have argued that the regulations are necessary to reduce nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries while opponents have argued that the regulations will impose unwarranted costs and hardships on farmers, particularly those involved with the poultry industry. After several previous delays and false starts, Governor Martin O’Malley presented the PMT regulations on the last possible day for them to take effect prior to Hogan becoming governor.
The article stated that Hogan made his comments on December 8 at the annual convention of the Maryland Farm Bureau. From the article:
“The first fight will be against these politically motivated, midnight-hour phosphorus management tool regulations that the outgoing administration is trying to force upon you in these closing days,” Hogan said. “We won’t allow them to put you out of business, destroy your way of life, or decimate your entire industry.”
In remarks prepared for delivery to the farm group, Hogan said, “I am going to do everything I can to make sure these ill-conceived regulations are never implemented as currently written.” He didn’t spell out what he would do to stop the new rules, and a spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
The article noted that while Eastern Shore legislators have requested a hearing on the proposed PMT regulations, other legislators feel the regulations are needed:
But [Senator Paul G. Pinsky (Prince George’s)], one of the legislature’s leading environmental advocates, warned that Hogan would be inviting further problems in the bay if he doesn’t deal with the issue.
“It’s just unfortunate that the governor-elect didn’t pause to read some of the studies and the science and the harmful effects on the bay before he started making promises to the farmers,” Pinsky said
The article also cited two recently released studies from environmental groups which purport to document the over-fertilization and high phosphorus levels on the Eastern Shore:
The Environmental Integrity Project, a Washington-based group, said it had reviewed annual reports submitted to the state by more than 400 “animal-feeding” operations….But of the 62 farms that said they used manure to fertilize their own fields, the group found three-fourths gave their crops three times the phosphorus they needed to grow. …
The Center for Progressive Reform, also based in Washington, said all but one of the large-scale animal farms whose reports it had reviewed had at least one field where the soil was already saturated with phosphorus. Soil tests taken on more than 1,000 fields in six Shore counties found excessive phosphorus levels on more than 60 percent of them, the center said.