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May 4, 2020 by Rachel Micah-Jones, Matt Shudtz

Baltimore Sun Op-ed: More Needs to Be Done to Protect Our Meat and Poultry Workers

This is an excerpt from an op-ed originally published in the Baltimore Sun. You can read the full op-ed here.

President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to order meat and poultry plants to continue operating despite COVID-19 outbreaks, exposing Maryland's poultry workers to enormous risks. Poultry processors haven't demonstrated they're able to keep workers safe and healthy, but they know that many of these low-wage workers will be forced to return. To top it all off, one of the president's goals with this order was to provide legal immunity to companies, so that they can't be sued by employees who are infected as a result of unsafe working conditions.

All the risks cascade down onto the workers. Many are from immigrant backgrounds and don't speak English. They're also exempted from vital protections, federal relief packages, and can't access COVID-19 treatment and care. We're standing in solidarity with these brave workers, and urging everyone else to do so, too.

COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc on workers forced to continue working in crowded conditions, with few breaks or protective gear, in the region's poultry processing facilities. Their employers' failures to control these hazards have resulted in a rapid escalation in …

April 23, 2020 by Darya Minovi
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On Earth Day, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), a CPR ally, released a new report on nitrogen pollution from poultry operations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Using data from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s pollution modeling program, EIP found that approximately 24 million pounds of nitrogen pollution from the poultry industry entered the Chesapeake Bay’s tidal waters in 2018. This amount is greater than the total nitrogen from urban and suburban stormwater runoff in Maryland and Virginia combined (20 million pounds in 2018). All that nitrogen pollution can contaminate drinking water sources of nearby communities and feeds huge algal blooms in the Bay that block sunlight, choking off fish and plant life.

Environmental Integrity Project Report: Poultry Pollution in the Chesapeake Region

Nearly two-thirds of the poultry industry’s nitrogen pollution comes from broiler farms that raise chickens for meat. The Delmarva Peninsula — including Dorchester, Somerset, and Wicomico counties in Maryland (which have 220 registered poultry …

March 12, 2020 by Darya Minovi
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On March 4, I joined community members and advocates from Assateague Coastal Trust, Center for a Livable Future, Environmental Integrity Project, Food and Water Watch, and NAACP to testify in favor of Maryland's House Bill 1312. The bill, introduced by Delegate Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery County), would place a moratorium on permits for new or expanding concentrated animal feed operations (CAFOs) in the state. The legislation would apply to "industrial poultry operations," defined as operations that produce 300,000 or more broiler chickens per year. It was introduced with strong support from community members and environmental and public health advocates hoping to pump the brakes on the seemingly unmitigated growth of poultry CAFOs, especially on the Eastern Shore.

The environmental and public health harms from CAFOs are nothing new to Eastern Shore residents. As stated in CPR's testimony, the expansion of CAFOs on the Delmarva Peninsula is …

Oct. 17, 2019 by Evan Isaacson
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The many thousands of people in the Mid-Atlantic region who care deeply about restoring the Chesapeake Bay tend to be pretty knowledgeable about the causes of the Bay's woes and even some of the key policy solutions for restoring it to health. These concerned citizens may even be familiar with the term "TMDL," a legal concept within the Clean Water Act that is probably completely foreign to most of the rest of the country. But what even the most committed Bay advocates may not be aware of is that a TMDL (short for "Total Maximum Daily Load") is merely a plan, not an enforceable document, and certainly not a self-activating solution to the Bay's problems.

The key to giving effect to the Bay TMDL and the entire Chesapeake restoration framework lies in the mechanics of the Clean Water Act. Quite simply, the TMDL sets an overall …

Sept. 3, 2019 by Evan Isaacson
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Last week, the six Chesapeake Bay states and the District of Columbia posted their final plans to meet the 2025 pollution reduction targets under the Bay cleanup effort known as the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load ("Bay TMDL" for short). These final Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) were, by and large, little different from the draft ones released this spring, at least for the big three Bay jurisdictions (Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) that are responsible for roughly 90 percent of the nutrient pollution in the Bay.

When the draft Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) for Pennsylvania was released in April, many were outraged that it contained a fatal flaw. The WIP failed to pass the most basic test, which is to propose actions that would actually provide the pollution reductions needed to meet the state's 2025 final Bay TMDL target. That fatal flaw still remains, although the final …

Aug. 7, 2019 by Evan Isaacson
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Chesapeake Bay and clean water advocates in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic region celebrated a significant legal win last week as Talen Energy, owner of the notorious Brunner Island coal-fired power plant, agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). The settlement is big news first and foremost because it will result in the closure and excavation of a massive coal ash disposal pond and the treatment of a number of other ponds, thus eliminating a significant source of pollution contaminating water supplies for residents in Central Pennsylvania. The successful settlement and the widespread press coverage that followed also serve as a pointed reminder of the importance of citizen enforcement of our environmental laws.

Under the settlement, Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will collect a $1 million penalty from Talen Energy. That's particularly notable because DEP was not an original plaintiff in this …

June 26, 2019 by Evan Isaacson
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On June 21, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its evaluation of the third and final round of state Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) under the Chesapeake Bay restoration framework known as the "Bay TMDL" (Total Maximum Daily Load). EPA's evaluation of the seven Bay jurisdictions broke no new ground regarding the quality or contents of the states' plans, but instead reiterated many of the same findings and concerns expressed by advocates, including the ones I expressed with my colleague David Flores. So what, if anything, is EPA going to do about the many shortcomings in the state WIPs?

From the looks of it, not nearly enough. The first indication that EPA's evaluation was not going to be a satisfactory response to the problematic WIPs was buried in a footnote. In the second footnote on the first page of each of the WIP evaluations, EPA says that it …

May 16, 2019 by Brian Gumm
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In April, states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed published drafts of the latest iteration of plans to reduce pollution and protect their rivers and streams. New analyses from the Center for Progressive Reform show that the plans fall far short of what is needed to restore the health and ecological integrity of the Chesapeake Bay.

The draft plans, known as Phase III watershed implementation plans (WIPs), were developed as part of the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) framework that includes all the states in the Chesapeake watershed. CPR Policy Analysts David Flores and Evan Isaacson focused on three states – Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – that are responsible for nearly 90 percent of nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake and represent more than 90 percent of the remaining pollution reductions needed to reach the final 2025 pollution reduction target.

Isaacson examined and evaluated the draft WIPs with several criteria …

April 8, 2019 by Evan Isaacson
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The Chesapeake Bay Program has just compiled its annual data assessing progress toward the watershed-wide pollution reduction target under the Bay restoration framework known as the "Bay TMDL." The bottom line is that recent gains in Bay health could soon be eclipsed by the lagging pace of pollution reductions, with the likely result that the region will fall well short of the Bay TMDL 2025 target date to achieve the reductions needed to restore the Bay's health.

One of the primary causes of this slow pace of progress is that the agencies primarily responsible for Bay restoration simply aren't doing their jobs the way they used to. For example, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) recently released its annual report showing the level of activity enforcing environmental laws. In 2018, the agency reported just 25 actions to enforce the federal Clean Water Act's core regulatory …

March 6, 2019 by David Flores
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2018 was one of the wettest years on record in Virginia, causing catastrophic floods and landslides, as well as unexpectedly high levels of pollution in the Commonwealth’s waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. While the last waterlogged year is only a recent memory for Virginians, seemingly unremarkable snow and rainfall at the end of February caused the James River to crest last week at its highest level in Richmond in almost ten years. Climate change has clearly transformed our experience with weather and our relationship with water. In a new report published today, the Center for Progressive Reform explores how this drives environmental injustice in Virginia through toxic flooding and the increasing risk of chemical exposures.

Over the last two years, plant explosions in Texas and flooded coal ash impoundments in North Carolina have reminded us about an unmet need to adapt our approach to chemical safety. And …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
May 4, 2020

Baltimore Sun Op-ed: More Needs to Be Done to Protect Our Meat and Poultry Workers

April 23, 2020

New Report Finds Poultry Industry Contributes 24 Million Pounds of Nitrogen to Chesapeake Bay

March 12, 2020

Advocating for Sustainable Agriculture on Maryland's Eastern Shore

Oct. 17, 2019

If You Care about the Chesapeake Bay, Here's What You Need to Know about Maryland's Clean Water Act Permit for Agricultural Pollution

Sept. 3, 2019

The Ball Is Back in EPA's Court Following Release of Final Bay Restoration Plans

Aug. 7, 2019

Big Coal Ash Settlement in Pennsylvania Shows One Path Forward for Bay Restoration

June 26, 2019

EPA Abandons Role at the Center of the Chesapeake Bay Accountability Framework