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April 23, 2020 by Darya Minovi

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

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 animal feeding operations, or AFOs) — is one of the greatest contributors of nitrogen pollution to the Bay.

The two major sources of nitrogen from poultry operations are airborne ammonia emissions from chicken litter and manure runoff into waterways (each contributing about half of the total nitrogen load to the Bay). Ammonia is a …

Nov. 15, 2019 by David Flores
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David Flores co-authored this post with Kathy Phillips, the Assateague Coastkeeper, an on-the-water advocate who patrols and protects the Maryland and northern Virginia Eastern Shore coastal bays and stands up to polluters.

Last month, former CPR policy analyst Evan Isaacson wrote in this space about Maryland's proposal to revise and reissue its Clean Water Act pollution permit for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). He made a convincing case that those who love the Bay need to advocate for effective and enforceable CAFO regulations.

Traditionally, air pollution permits have been and will continue to be a critical component of climate policy in the United States, controlling emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants. But strong water pollution standards, including permits, are also a vital tool in addressing climate change because they are so important to state efforts to adapt.

Maryland's CAFO permit is what's described as a "general permit" because …

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 …

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 …

July 27, 2018 by Evan Isaacson
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Today, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office of the Environmental Protection Agency officially released its assessment of Chesapeake Bay restoration progress. This marked the formal conclusion of the multi-year process known as the "midpoint assessment" for the Chesapeake's cleanup plan.

2017 represents the halfway point for the cleanup, at which time state and federal partners were supposed to have reached 60 percent of their final 2025 nutrient and sediment pollution reduction targets. Unfortunately, 2017 will go down as another in a long line of missed deadlines for the Bay.

Several weeks ago, the Chesapeake Bay Program released the official progress data on the 2017 interim pollution reduction targets. The data reveal that for nitrogen, long considered the limiting pollutant in the Bay TMDL cleanup plan, the seven Chesapeake jurisdictions and all sources combined were only a …

July 25, 2018 by Evan Isaacson
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This post is part of a series on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

President Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court has enormous environmental and public health implications – true of any high court nomination, but particularly true in this case because he would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, the high court's long-time swing vote.

As it stands, Kavanaugh has already had an outsized impact on the shape and direction of environmental law in the United States. A review of Kavanaugh's judicial opinions shows that he has been one of the most prolific writers of environmental law decisions over the last decade on what is considered the nation's second-highest court, and the one with jurisdiction over much of the federal regulatory system. Only one other judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of …

June 22, 2018 by Evan Isaacson
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This is an update to an earlier post explaining why the release of EPA’s TMDL expectations is important. These posts are part of an ongoing series on the midpoint assessment and long-term goals of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. 

This week, EPA’s Mid-Atlantic regional office released its final expectations for how states and their federal partners are to implement the third and final phase of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup process, which runs from 2018 to 2025. The good news is that the document is generally consistent with previous drafts and the expectations of Bay advocates. 

In my previous post, included below, I emphasized that the document would be a bellwether signaling the extent to which EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt or other Trump administration officials are overtly or publicly interfering with the future of the Bay cleanup process known as the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. At least …

June 21, 2018 by Mariah Davis
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Yesterday in this space, I took a look at the progress that three Chesapeake Bay watershed states – New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia – have made in implementing their Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs), on their way – perhaps – to meeting the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution reduction targets for 2025. In this post, I'll take a look at Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Delaware

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is leading the WIP implementation effort in the state. The department has convened a Chesapeake Bay Interagency Workgroup made up of representatives from each DNREC Division, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, Office of State Planning Coordination, County Conservation Districts, and other stakeholders. The workgroup will focus on two selected sectors: agriculture and developed. They are responsible for recommending and reviewing sub-allocating methodologies to the various nonpoint sources within the basins, assessing …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
April 23, 2020

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

Nov. 15, 2019

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

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

May 16, 2019

Chesapeake Bay State Plans to Protect Watershed, Reduce Pollution Fall Short

April 8, 2019

One Stat That May Help Us Understand Why Bay Progress Continues to Lag

July 27, 2018

EPA Releases Assessment of Chesapeake Bay Restoration Progress