Maryland yanks rule limiting the use of manure as fertilizer…again

by Anne Havemann | November 21, 2013

Lately, press releases from the Maryland Department of Agriculture read like a broken record:

MDA Withdraws Phosphorus Management Tool Regulations; Department to Meet with Stakeholders and Resubmit Regulations 

-- August 26, 2013  

MDA Withdraws Phosphorus Management Tool Regulations; Department to Consider Comments and Resubmit Regulations

--November 15, 2013

The second headline is from this past Friday when MDA withdrew a proposed regulation aimed at cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay by restricting the use of manure to fertilize crops.

Manure is full of phosphorus, one of the nutrients choking the Bay. Indeed, manure runoff accounts for 26 percent of the phosphorus in the estuary. The proposed “phosphorus management tool,” developed at the University of Maryland, would have helped determine which fields were over-saturated with the nutrient. If the soil contained too much phosphorus, the farmer could not apply manure to fertilize that field.

As the agency’s press releases show, this is the second time MDA has pulled back its attempt to limit manure usage. An emergency regulation that was supposed to have gone into effect this fall was withdrawn in late August ...

What’s for Thanksgiving? Hopefully not more crippling pain for poultry workers! Learn more at upcoming webinar

by Rena Steinzor | November 20, 2013
When we all sit down for Thanksgiving dinner next week, we hope that the food we are feeding our families is wholesome and that the workers who produce it are safe.  Thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), ever the mindless booster of corporate profits, that turkey at the center of the table already disappoints both expectations, and if USDA has its way, matters are about to get much worse.  Hiding behind disingenuous promises to “modernize” the food safety ...

The Award-Winning Catherine Jones

by Matthew Freeman | November 20, 2013
Yesterday, Catherine Jones, CPR's Operations and Finance Manager, received Public Citizen's 11th annual Phyllis McCarthy Public Service Award, in recognition of her contributions to the organization and the nonprofit community. Catherine's been with CPR for eight of our eleven years, and she's been a lynchpin of the organization for most of that time. CPR began small — first as an idea shared by a group of scholars around a restaurant table — then morphed into a somewhat more formal gathering ...

Falling Behind: The Effort to Reduce Pollution from Industrial Animal Farms in Maryland is Lagging

by Anne Havemann | November 20, 2013
Maryland’s effort to limit pollution from massive industrial animal farms in the state is falling behind. A new CPR Issue Alert finds that the state has not registered 26 percent of Maryland’s concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and Maryland animal feeding operations (MAFOs), missing out on tens of thousands of pounds of pollution reduction in the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay is in trouble. Years of half-hearted interstate efforts to check polluting emissions and restore the nation's largest estuary have ...

The return of the senior death discount

by Lisa Heinzerling | November 18, 2013
The Food and Drug Administration recently announced its tentative determination that most of the trans fatty acids in our diets – specifically, partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) – are not “generally recognized as safe” within the meaning of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and thus must be regulated as food additives. If the FDA finalizes this determination, then food manufacturers would need to obtain the approval of the FDA before selling PHOs in any food or as food ingredients. Approval would then ...

Benefits of food safety rules much greater than even the FDA suggests

by Michael Patoka | November 14, 2013
CPR Member Scholars Rena Steinzor Lisa Heinzerling, Tom McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, and I submitted comments to the FDA on two food safety rules—one on raw produce, and one on preventive controls for human food (which applies to food manufacturers and processors). In separate blogs posted today, we address issues of regulatory design and how the costs of both these rules would be significantly smaller than suggested in the FDA’s economic analyses. Here, we explain why these rules offer much greater ...

Deeply flawed economic analysis exaggerates the cost of FDA’s produce rule

by Lisa Heinzerling | November 14, 2013
One of the healthiest things a person can do is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Unless they’re contaminated with dangerous pathogens, that is. Contaminated produce has been responsible for an alarming number of deaths and illnesses in recent years, from Listeria-tainted cantaloupes that killed up to 43 people in 2011 to a Cyclospora outbreak linked to salad mix and cilantro that sickened 631 people in 25 states this past summer.  For this reason, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) directed ...

FDA’s preventive controls rule: hollowed out by OIRA, and less costly than the agency suggests

by Thomas McGarity | November 14, 2013
From frozen meals and spices to nutbutters and cheeses, processed foods have been responsible for an alarming number of outbreaks in recent years. The FDA’s proposed rule on “preventive controls for human food” would require manufacturers, processors, and warehouses to design a written food safety plan tailored to each facility’s products and operations. (The rule would also apply to mixed-type facilities that conduct processing activities on a farm.) In general, facilities would have to identify the potential hazards in their processes and then implement controls to minimize or prevent ...

Tales from our trash: New York City’s sanitation workers, sustainable cities, and the value of knowledge

by Rebecca Bratspies | November 13, 2013
We have a problem in New York City: We generate more than 30,000 tons of waste each day. Roughly one third of that waste is household trash, and the daunting task of collecting garbage from New York City’s three million households falls to 7,000 workers from the NYC Department of Sanitation.  They are, in the words of artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, “keeping New York City alive.”  All of NYC’s waste is shipped out of state for disposal. But first, the city ...

Testimony of CPR's Wagner for House Hearing on new TSCA bill today focuses on impact to EPA's use of science

by Erin Kesler | November 13, 2013
Today, Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, Wendy Wagner will testify at a House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment Hearing entitled, "S. 1009, Chemical Safety Improvement Act." Wagner's testimony can be read in full here. According to her testimony: My testimony will focus on the various good science provisions in S.1009 and how they are likely to impact EPA’s use of science.  I will make the following points ...

CPR's Tom McGarity to testify at Senate Hearing on regulatory ossification

by Erin Kesler | November 07, 2013
Today, Center for Progressive Reform board member and University of Texas School of Law professor Thomas O. McGarity will testify at a Hearing hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee entitled, "Justice Delayed II: the Impact of Nonrule RuleMakiing in Auto Safey and Mental Health." McGarity's testimony can be read in full here. According to the testimony, some possible solutions to the problems created by nonrule rulemaking include: Agencies that are conscientiously committed to carrying out their statutory missions will continue ...

The human cost of regulatory ossification

by Thomas McGarity | November 06, 2013
Tomorrow, a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D. Connecticut) hosts a Hearing on the consequences of excessive regulatory “ossification” entitled, “Justice Delayed II: The Impact of Nonrule Rulemaking on Auto Safety and Mental Health.”  I will be testifying at that hearing on the effects of agencies’ moving to more informal rule-making procedures as a way to avoid the burdensome analytical and internal review requirements that currently make it so difficult for them to promulgate ...

Alt v. EPA: EPA’s control over CAFOs shrinks again

by Anne Havemann | November 05, 2013
Lois Alt is a 61-year-old grandmother who sued EPA in federal court arguing that her large chicken farming operation is exempt from Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting requirements. On October 23, the judge ruled in her favor in an alarming decision that could mean thousands of other large industrial farming operations do not need permits.  The case began when EPA found Ms. Alt in violation of the CWA for discharging without a permit. EPA ordered her to apply for one ...

CPR Scholars: ACUS’ recommendations to OIRA fall short

by Amy Sinden | November 05, 2013
Since the Reagan Administration, federal agencies have been required by Executive Order to send their major rules to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review before releasing them to the public. OIRA review consists of, among other things, ensuring that agencies subject their rules to cost-benefit analysis to make sure the dollar value of their costs to industry exceeds the dollar value of the benefits they confer on the public. It was no surprise under the ...

Senate Republicans against DC Circuit Court nominees: talking through their hats

by Sidney Shapiro | October 30, 2013
This week, it was reported that Senate Democrats plan to force a vote to confirm one judicial nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals if Republican Senators continue to block the nominee’s confirmation. Patricia Ann Millett, who has worked for Democratic and Republican administrations in the past, is the contested candidate.  Although the circuit court has three vacancies, the Republicans oppose a vote because they say the D.C. Court of Appeals has too many judges. Senator Jefferson Sessions, for example, ...

The coal ash rule rises like the phoenix: Judge Reggie Walton orders EPA to get the rule back on track within 60 days, congratulations to Earthjustice and its clients

by Rena Steinzor | October 29, 2013
Congratulations to our friends at Earthjustice and their clients for a tremendous victory in federal district court today. Judge Reggie Walton (a George W. Bush appointee) ordered the Obama Administration to provide a schedule for regulating coal ash within the next 60 days.   This epic battle now shifts back to the White House and Congress where nearly hysterical electric utilities that depend on coal-fired power plants will sweep in, aided by some very twisted economics from strong regulation’s staunch nemesis, the ...

New CPR Issue Alert on toxics: reform must help, not hinder states and victims’ rights

by Sidney Shapiro | October 28, 2013
In the United States, the framework for safeguarding people and the environment against the dangers of toxic chemicals comprises three mutually reinforcing legal systems: federal regulation, state and federal civil justice systems, and state regulation. Each part of the framework however, has been substantially weakened — the civil justice systems by years of tort "reform," and federal and state regulatory systems by outdated laws and an ongoing campaign by industry and its allies against protective regulation.  Congress is now considering competing ...

White House changes to food import rule weaken consumer protections

by Michael Patoka | October 25, 2013
Last Friday, the FDA posted the revisions the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) made to two food safety rules drafted by the agency two years ago. The proposed rules were issued under the Food Safety and Modernization Act, which Congress passed in the wake of widespread food safety disasters. As we’ve mentioned in this space before, OIRA is the regulatory review body within the White House that frequently holds onto agency rules for longer than the 120-day ...

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