Press Release: Lower Shore Citizens Seek Legislative Relief For Poultry House Air Pollution
Community Healthy Air Act Would Require MDE to Assess Air Pollution from Factory Farms
Annapolis, MD — On Friday, Senator Richard S. Madaleno introduced Senate Bill 773, the Community Healthy Air Act (CHAA), which would require Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to identify and monitor all air pollutants that are emitted by factory farms, also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), and report back to the Maryland General Assembly on its findings. The bill was introduced at the request of Eastern Shore community members and other citizen groups who are concerned about the impacts that CAFO air emissions are having on public health and the environment. Presently MDE does not monitor or regulate these emissions.
“Studies show that large scale CAFO operations directly threaten our communities and waterways with harmful air pollutants. It’s about time we pay attention to the impacts industrial poultry operations are having on public health,” said Senator Richard S. Madaleno (D-District 18). “The CHAA is commonsense legislation premised on the fundamental belief that every Marylander has a right to know what is in the air they and their children breath in every day.”
“ACT has watched the expansion of industrial scale poultry house construction on the Lower Shore for two years, and have been concerned that the level of ammonia being exhausted unfiltered and unregulated is contributing to increased levels of nitrogen deposition to our local waterways and to groundwater,” commented Kathy Phillips, Assateague Coastkeeper with the Assateague Coastal Trust. “A recent study published by the National Academy of Sciences, found that ammonia emissions from factory farms was the primary source of nitrogen falling to the ground at 69% of the monitoring sites in the study,” continued Phillips.
“For over a year, local governments have dismissed Eastern Shore communities’ calls for public health ordinances that would create protections 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 are some of the highest in the state, yet no CAFO has an air permit. We are appreciative of Senator Madaleno and are counting on our state representatives to pass the Community Healthy Air Act so that we can make sure that Marylanders are protected from unhealthy levels of air pollution.
In 2016, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future released a poll that concluded Maryland voters want to see more regulation of CAFOs, including 71% of Maryland voters surveyed on the Eastern Shore support and encourage local counties to pass public health laws that limit the number of poultry houses that can be built in one area. This new bill, cosponsored by Senators Lee, Nathan-Pulliam, Pinsky and Smith, is the first big step towards protecting Maryland communities from public health threats caused by air emissions from CAFOs.