Friday 23 February 2018

Agriculture sector only halfway toward 2017 goal for phosphorus pollution

(Annapolis, MD) – Claims by the farm lobby that Maryland’s agriculture industry is ahead of its Chesapeake Bay clean-up goals to reduce pollution are factually inaccurate. The Chesapeake Bay Program confirmed this week that as of June 2013 (its most recent data), Maryland’s agriculture sector is only 51 percent of the way toward meeting its 2017 goal to reduce phosphorus.

“The agriculture industry clearly has a long way to go to reduce phosphorous pollution,” said Betsy Nicholas, executive director, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, a member of the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition. “It is shameful how hard the poultry industry, its lobbyists, and others continue to fight commonsense and scientifically sound solutions.”

The Farm Bureau continues to object to the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT), inaccurately and repeatedly stating agriculture is ahead of its goals. Federal experts tracking progress have established that the Farm Bureau is incorrect.

“What is undisputable and what should spur the General Assembly and Governor-elect Hogan into action is that not only is agriculture industry is the largest source of pollution to the Bay but that it is behind the curve,” said Joanna Diamond, co-chair of the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition. “Every year, Maryland produces enough poultry waste to fill both M & T Bank stadium and FedEx Field. We’ve simply got too much manure that farmers are spreading on already polluting fields.  And as a result our water quality is getting worse, not better.”

The PMT would reduce pollution by halting the excessive uses of manure on farm fields already contaminated with too much phosphorus. 

“Experts say this is the best opportunity in 30 years to improve the Chesapeake Bay,” said Karla Raettig of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and a co-chair of the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition. “After ten years of scientific study and a legislatively-mandated economic study, it is time for swift implementation of this pollution-reducing tool.”

Maryland’s 2010 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) committed the state to updating the Phosphorus Management Tool in 2011. A study by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation found that failure to fully implement Maryland’s plan to restore the Chesapeake Bay would result in a $700 million annual loss to Maryland’s economy, doe in part to damage to fihseries and other ecosystem services.

Agriculture is the single, largest source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland waterways, and more than half of Maryland’s phosphorus pollution comes from farms with failed manure management systems. Phosphorus pollution causes algae blooms that threaten public health; kill underwater grasses; harm aquatic life like blue crabs, oysters and fish; and create an enormous “dead zone” in the Bay.

View the infographic “How Manure is Contaminating Maryland Waters & the Chesapeake Bay” as well as a fact sheet for more information about the Phosphorus Management Tool. 


Contact: Dawn Stoltzfus, The Hatcher Group, (410) 990-0284




The Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition is working to improve Maryland waterways and protect public health by reducing pollution, and increasing transparency and accountability, from agriculture and other associated sources of water degradation.

Anacostia Riverkeeper – Audubon Naturalist Society – Assateague Coastal Trust – Blue Water Baltimore – Chesapeake Climate Action Network – Clean Water Action – Common Cause Maryland – Environment Maryland – Environmental Integrity Project - League of Women Voters of Maryland – Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper – Maryland League of Conservation Voters – Maryland Pesticide Network – National Wildlife Federation, Mid-Atlantic Regional Center – Potomac Riverkeeper – Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter – South River Federation – Waterkeepers Chesapeake – West/Rhode Riverkeeper


Citing Growing Science, a Broad Coalition of 61 Health, Environment, Faith and Advocacy Groups Unite to Call on the State Legislature to Pass a Long-Term Moratorium on Fracking in Maryland 

Organizations warn that permitting fracking in Maryland poses significant threats to the health and safety of Marylanders, and to the quality of our air, water and soil

Annapolis, MD—Seeking to protect Marylanders from the public health and environmental risks of fracking, 61 organizations are calling for a long-term moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in Maryland. In a position statement released today, the groups emphasized that, “there is no evidence that the state can regulate hydraulic fracturing in a way that adequately protects public health, natural resources, or the economy.”

The diverse coalition of local, state and national public health organizations, faith, environmental, and other advocacy groups citing numerous peer-reviewed studies and reports, are calling on the Maryland General Assembly to pass a long-term moratorium to protect citizens from the many recorded dangers associated with fracking. A recent analysis found that 96 percent of all papers published on health impacts indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.

“Recent studies suggest that unconventional natural gas development can cause both short-term and long-term adverse health impacts, some of which may be irreversible,” said Dr. Gina Angiola, a member of the Board of Directors of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility. “These types of health impacts carry tremendous emotional and economic costs for families and communities. We urge the Maryland Legislature to adopt a long-term moratorium to allow time for more scientific and medical knowledge to emerge on the impacts of fracking.”

“As a nurse-midwife, I am deeply concerned about the elevated risks of birth defects and low birth weight babies seen in families near fracking sites. We need to protect our future generations and put a hold on fracking in Maryland,” said Katie Huffling, RN, CNM Director of Programs for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. “I urge the Maryland legislature to put the health of all Maryland’s citizens first and support a long-term moratorium on fracking Maryland.”

“Five years ago, as companies leased our lands for gas exploitation, a few people in mountain Maryland joined with others across our state to seek protections,” said Citizen Shale President Paul Roberts. “We believed that scientific discovery and commonsense caution would one day bring us all to this conclusion: fracking is fraught with unacceptable threats to our water, our air, and our economy. Health is wealth, and we believe Americans everywhere share this preference for our nation’s future.”

The coalition’s statement comes shortly after the New York State Health Department recommended that fracking should not be allowed in that state based on the existing science and the lack of studies on the long term effects of fracking on public health. Subsequently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on fracking in the state.

 “There is no evidence that Governor O’Malley’s proposed regulations will protect Marylanders,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter. “The Maryland legislature is in a position to follow the leadership of New York Governor Cuomo and take action now to protect residents from the inherent health and safety problems caused by fracking.”

“You can't spin science,” said Maryland Sierra Club State Director, Josh Tulkin. “Fracking poses a threat to our health, our environment, and yes, even our economy. And the technology to clean it up simply doesn't exist. It's time to hit the brakes."  

"The safest thing to do in Maryland on fracking is to first and foremost get a moratorium in place,” said Chesapeake Climate Action Network Executive Director Mike Tidwell. “The moratorium gives us time to adequately assess the health, economic and climate aspects of this dangerous drilling practice before moving forward on it. We have banded together with public health, environmental, and civic groups across the state to form the largest coalition ever built on this issue to pass the moratorium bill."

“The proposed regulations sent to AELR repeatedly claimed that gas development would benefit Garrett County financially,” said Eric Robison, president of Save Western Maryland. “But we never saw, in over three years of the State commission's work, any comprehensive study addressing specific economic impacts of fracking or addressing Garrett County's economy in general. Recent data crunching out of Pennsylvania show that fracking has a negative impact on property values - up to 20% drop in value, and Garrett County relies primarily on revenue from property values to fund services that would otherwise need to be funded by the State.”

"Fracking for the last bubbles of shale gas is a shortsighted scheme with immediate and long-term dangers,” said Elisabeth Hoffman of HoCo Climate Change. “Instead of fracking, we must turn swiftly to renewable energy sources that protect our health, land, air, water and climate.”

"In the hearts of our religious communities is a deep commitment to loving our neighbors—close to home and around the world—which means safeguarding our air, water, and land,” said Elizabeth Stevens of Interfaith Power & Light. “That love is why Interfaith Power & Light calls for a long-term moratorium on fracking in Maryland."

“The mission of each and every elected government entity is to protect the health and welfare of its citizens,” said Mountain Lake Park Mayor Leo Martin. “First, the Town of Mountain Lake Park banned fracking because of our experience with conventional drilling in the 1950s. Wildcat drillers damaged the town's infrastructure, polluted the area with wastewater, and abandoned equipment. Second we studied the problems in Pennsylvania. Recent problems there are more worrisome than the problems our town experienced in the 1950s. The uncontrolled use of dangerous chemicals and the pollution of water supplies head the list.”

"Waterkeepers throughout the Chesapeake Bay region recognize the real threats from fracking to western Maryland's economy, water resources, forests and people,” said Waterkeepers Chesapeake Executive Director Betsy Nicholas. "The demand for fracked gas will only increase as liquefied natural gas export facilities open such as Dominion’s LNG export facility at Cove Point located on the Chesapeake Bay. Fracking in Maryland will mean short-term profits for oil and gas companies at the great and lasting expense of our land, water and communities.. We call on Maryland lawmakers to enact a long-term moratorium on fracking to allow for the study of cumulative public health effects and to safeguard our water resources for future generations."

National Organization for Women, Maryland Chapter President Sara WilkInson said, "Maryland NOW supports a long-term moratorium on fracking. Fracking presents unacceptable health risks--including dangerous chemicals in air and drinking water--and the pending Maryland regulations cannot adequately address these risks. As the mother of a newborn, I support a long-term moratorium on fracking because of the threats it poses to our children."


Rich Bindell: 202-683-2457, RBindell(at)

Gina Angiola: 240-620-1486, Gangiola11(at)

Ann Bristow: 301-689-9355, Piperannie(at) 

Robin Broder: 703-786-8172, robin(at)






Rule will not adequately protect water or communities. Fails to follow science and properly designate coal ash as hazardous waste.

Washington, DC -- December 19, 2014 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today has issued its first-ever national rule on the disposal of coal ash. Several local Waterkeepers and Waterkeeper Alliance have been working for years to secure federal rulemaking for this toxic substance, which is currently subject to less regulation than household garbage in most states. EPA's rule still leaves critical gaps in the protection of human health and the environment by failing to classify coal ash as hazardous waste and leaving primary oversight of coal ash regulation to states who, for decades, have failed to prevent catastrophic coal ash leaks and spills that have contaminated rivers, drinking water sources and communities.

Along the James River, the Lower James and Upper James Riverkeepers have identified five major coal ash disposal sites with up to 5 billion gallons of coal ash as part of their River at Risk Campaign. Yesterday, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed a notice of intent to sue Dominion’s Chesapeake Energy Center for leaking coal ash pits along the Elizabeth River. In September, SELC representing Potomac Riverkeeper filed a notice of intent to sue Dominion’s Possum Point facility for leaking toxic coal ash from disposal sites that lack permits. After several years of legal wrangling, Potomac Riverkeeper and Patuxent Riverkeeper negotiated a consent decree with NRG Energy and the state for the clean up of three leaking coal ash sites in Maryland. These are just a few examples of the several ongoing and pervasive toxic coal ash pits that threaten the rivers in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Statement from Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director, Waterkeepers Chesapeake:

“Leaking toxic coal ash pits are not only found in North Carolina or Tennessee. Here in the Chesapeake Bay region, our local Waterkeepers have spent the last several years taking action to ensure the clean up of toxic coal ash sites. Unfortunately, they continue to identify new coal ash pits that are leaking toxins and heavy metals into our rivers. We are deeply disappointed that the EPA chose to ignore science and issued a weak and ineffective rule that will not safeguard our waterways and communities from this extremely hazardous waste.”

Statement from Sarah Rispin, Potomac Riverkeeper and General Counsel of Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc.:

"By regulating coal ash as non-hazardous waste, EPA is trying to sweep a very real, and very toxic problem, under the rug.  But calling coal ash ‘non-hazardous’ doesn’t make it so.  It is indisputable that coal ash contains dangerous heavy metals including arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury and thallium, and that these toxins contaminate the land and water around hundreds of coal ash dumps across the country—including over two dozen in the Potomac Watershed. We are saddened to see EPA cave to industry pressure and pretend that this toxic waste is ‘non-hazardous’ to avoid imposing the expense of proper disposal on an industry that has been getting away with negligent practices for years.”

Read Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc.’s full statement. Potomac Riverkeeper is working to evaluate this complex rule, and to determine what, if any, practical protections it adds for our region against the threat of leaks and collapse from the multiple coal ash storage sites in our watershed. 

Statement by Bill Street, CEO of James River Association:

“Power companies in neighboring states have already committed to safely moving coal ash to dry, lined storage away from waterways.  America’s Founding River deserves that same level of protection.  We will be tracking the implementation of these rules in Virginia to ensure proper safeguards are established.”

Read James River Association’s full statement.

The following is a statement from Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance:

“EPA’s historic failure to regulate coal ash has resulted in catastrophes that have buried homes in poisonous slurry and permanently harmed rivers and stream. How could EPA conclude that coal ash, which is loaded with carcinogens including arsenic, cadmium, and chromium, is not a hazardous waste? These toxins are contaminating the land and water around hundreds of coal ash dumps across the country. Today’s rule falls far short of what is needed to protect communities and ensure clean water for all Americans.

“EPA failed to follow the science and cravenly abandoned its duty to protect American families by capitulating to intense pressure from a powerful, polluting industry. This is yet another example of polluters profiting over people at the hands of the very agency who is supposed to regulate them.

“For the past three years, Waterkeeper Alliance has investigated dozens of coal ash dumps all over the United States. We’ve found toxic pollution leaking and spilling out of nearly every ash dump we’ve looked at. EPA’s new rule will allow hazardous pollution to leak into the environment for decades to come.”

Read Waterkeeper Alliance’s full statement.Waterkeeper Alliance is extensively reviewing the new rule and will provide additional comment early next week.

Contact: Robin Broder, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 703-786-8172