Letter to Editor: Governor Hogan Missed Opportunity


Governor Hogan missed an opportunity last week to improve management of phosphorus, one of the primary pollutants of the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay. Governor Hogan proposed a new regulation addressing phosphorus pollution from chicken manure, which he described as including “enhancements” from previous versions of the regulation advanced by Governor O’Malley’s administration. The glaring problem is that Governor Hogan’s proposal may or may not actually regulate phosphorus. Until Governor Hogan finalizes a phosphorus regulation without loopholes, the bill authored by Senator Pinsky (SB 257) is the only meaningful proposal to improve management of phosphorus and achieve healthier waters.

According to the proposed regulation, “advancing to the phosphorus management tool is contingent upon results of the evaluation indicating sufficient capacity to address the additional volume of animal manure expected to be created” under the rule (emphasis added). This provision means that if there are not sufficient subsidies in place to fund the transport of excess manure, all bets are off and the restrictions on phosphorus application may never happen.

It is past time to update the regulation of phosphorus applied on agricultural fields. Phosphorus pollution contributes to algae blooms that kill underwater grasses and deplete habitats for crabs and oysters. In addition, the current regulatory tool, the phosphorus site index, is known to be deficient in that it only takes into account phosphorus bound to sediment and does not factor in phosphorus moving through shallow groundwater.

Governor Hogan wants to regulate phosphorus, maybe. A maybe regulation is not good enough. We need to communicate to our elected representatives that we need a clear and binding phosphorus management regulation to achieve healthier waters.

Isabel Junkin Hardesty, Chester River Association Riverkeeper
Paul Spies, Chester River Association Agriculture Specialist

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