Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bay News de Jour

There's a lot of different news topics floating around the Bay today, so I'll try to hit some highlights.

Virginia legislators drop plans for special oyster zones.
The House of Delegates voted 70 to 25 to do away with aquaculture opportunity zones. The 25 opposing votes came from Democrats, including Del. Albert C. Pollard, Jr., the Northern Neck lawmaker who in 2010 wrote the law that created the program.
I've mentioned this bill before, or at least the Senate side of it, here. Generally, I'm in favor of aquaculture approaches to oysters as opposed to the "rape and pillage" of open oyster fishing.  Generally, having people doing the harvesting have an ownership interest is a good idea.  Maybe next year.

Virginia on path to ban phosphate lawn fertilizer.
Environmentalists are hailing the General Assembly’s passage of a bill that would bar the Virginia sale of fertilizer containing phosphorus for use on established lawns... Effective in 2013, the ban could reduce phosphorus pollution into the bay by at least 230,000 pounds a year.The legislation is headed to Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Phosphate lawn fertilizers are a small but not trivial contributor to eutrophication in the bay.  I hate lawns (I have too much of my own, mostly because it's hard to kill, and hard to keep looking good), so maybe this will help push me toward better landscaping (when a bill like this comes to MD).  I do object to the force aspect of this.  Maybe a prohibitive tax on phosphate fertilizers would work better, and also raise money for the state?

Virginia makes the Striped Bass it's official state fish.

Hey, you can't have it, that was our state fish first! Interestingly, the mighty striper almost lost to the lowly menhadden:
Del. Jackson Miller, R-Manassas came two votes shy of amending the bill to designate the menhaden, an oily, commercially harvested forage fish, as Virginia's official saltwater fish. His floor amendment failed on a 48-49 vote.
At least that guy has a sense of humor.

Builders offer compromise on O'Malley's septic system proposal:
...HB 177 and its companion bill, SB160, would extend virtually statewide the law enacted two years ago that bars installation of conventional septic systems on land near the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic coastal bays. Similar statewide legislation was introduced in 2009, but its scope was whittled down to apply just to the 1,000 strip of waterfront known as the "Critical Area" around the bays and their tidal tributaries...

...The builders group suggested that advanced septic systems only be required for new construction within 100 feet of a water body that's officially designated by the state as "impaired" by nitrogen.

While nearly all of the Chesapeake and the coastal bays are impaired by nitrogen, only 1.6 percent of the nontidal river and stream watersheds in Maryland -- 171 miles out of a total of 10,820 stream miles - are similarly classified, according to a spokeswoman for the state Department of the Environment...
Sneaky, using their own designations against them.

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