Tuesday 26 March 2019

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) (19)

Agriculture is the single, largest source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, and it contaminates local waterways. Maryland is working on solutions, but our progress is hamstrung by a lack of information and a dysfunctional permitting system. Agriculture Tracking and Improvement Act (SB 546/HB 904) would help Maryland get information currently lacking about agriculture practices, manure transport and water quality on the Eastern Shore, and it would improve transparency and fairness in the State’s industrial agriculture permitting program.     Specifically, the bill would: help the agriculture industry comply with the state’s regulation to reduce the use of phosphorous (known as the Phosphorous Management Tool); create a voluntary system to track manure transport and land application by private companies; update the permitting timeline and fees for industrial poultry operations (know as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs); reinstate water quality monitoring stations on the Lower Eastern Shore. Take Action and send an email to your Maryland representatives to urge them to vote YES on SB546/HB904. All sectors of our state --  business, cities, agriculture, residents – need to do their fair share to reduce pollution in our local waterways and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Click here for more information about the bill.

EPA Guidance Falls Short of Protecting Communities

Air Releases of Hazardous Substances from Animal Waste Will Continue Sometimes our job as Waterkeepers can get very wonky. And this is one of those times. Not only do we comment on and challenge flawed regulations, we also slog through the guidance documents that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drafts about how these regulations should be interpreted and applied. Last month, the EPA released a Guidance regarding a new requirement that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) – known as factory farms -- report the release of hazardous substances from their facilities. This Guidance came a few months after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that CAFOs are not exempt from the reporting requirements under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). The decision was meant to close a EPA loophole that has long exempted CAFOs from reporting the same hazardous substances – like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide – as other industries. The Court reasoned that public health professionals and emergency responders would need this information to adequately respond to emergencies and community threats. Under the ruling, a CAFO owner or operator must notify federal authorities under CERCLA and state and local authorities under EPCRA after it releases a large amount of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide. The EPA estimates that nearly three-quarters of the country’s ammonia emissions come from CAFOs. According to the Government Accountability Office, the amount of manure from CAFOs ranges from 2,800 tons to 1.6…
By Dr. Sara Via and Betsy Nicholas, July 13, 2016, The Frederick News Post The recent discovery in an American patient of a “superbug” resistant to colistin, an antibiotic of last resort, is currently rocking the medical profession. This resistance gene has now been found in several U.S. communities just a few weeks after its discovery at the end of May at Walter Reed Army Medical Research Center. The rapid movement of this gene into new populations illustrates just how easily bacteria can share genes that are advantageous to them. Did you know that 70 percent of all medically important antibiotics used in the United States are given to farm animals that are not even sick? For decades, it has been common practice to administer low doses of the same antibiotics used in human medicine to livestock for growth promotion. Giving low doses to the entire herd on a regular basis is known to be the fastest way to produce bacterial populations that can resist antibiotics. This is why the European Union banned the prophylactic use of antibiotics in 2011. Despite the importance of this problem, a bill introduced in Maryland’s General Assembly this year to limit the use of medically important human antibiotics in farm animals did not even get a vote in either the House or the Senate. Sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) and Delegate Shane Robinson (D-Montgomery), this bill would have been a meaningful step in halting a practice that is known to endanger human…