Governor Hogan Quickly Blocks Phosphorus Tool, Other Pending Regs

During his first hours in office, Governor Larry Hogan followed through on a pre-inauguration pledge and acted to “pause” several pending regulations offered through state agencies in the waning days of the O’Malley Administration. Among the most noteworthy among them were those implementing a controversial and costly new Phosphorus Management Tool for agriculture, and another imposing limits on power plant emissions.

From coverage in the Baltimore Sun‘s B’More Green blog:

In one of his first acts after taking office Wednesday, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan withdrew a handful of regulations proposed in the final weeks of the previous Democratic administration.

One hotly contested proposal would have curbed Eastern Shore farmers’ use of poultry manure on their fields. Another of the blocked regulations would have clamped down on smog-forming air pollution from coal-burning power plants

The move was an abrupt change in direction for the controversial pending regulations, and may face a challenge. From Daily Times coverage of the phosphorus issue:

Moving forward, there are questions as to whether Hogan’s decision to pull the regulations from the Maryland Register after they were scheduled to be published was valid.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture signed the “Notice of Final Action” on Jan. 16, submitting the regulations for publication in the Jan. 23 issue of the Register.

While Hogan had until 4 p.m. Wednesday to pull the regulations before they headed to publication, a letter from the state Attorney General’s Office to an advisor said there was yet to be a precedent on the matter.

In a letter to Hogan adviser former state Sen. David Brinkley, Sandra Brantley said on behalf of the office that while she believed Hogan’s action was legal she could “only predict how a reviewing court would interpret the law.”

“I could find no Maryland case law or previous opinion of the Attorney General addressing the ability of an agency or the Governor to withdraw a notice of adoption after its submission to the (Division of State Documents) but before publication of the notice,” Brantley wrote.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties