Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Legislature Corrects 2011 Fertilizer Error, Lets Cities Off the Hook for Pollution

House Bill 561/Senate Bill 748: Fertilizer. When the General Assembly in 2011 passed the Fertilizer Use Act, which aims to reduce the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus entering and polluting the Chesapeake Bay, it prohibited the application of fertilizer within 15 feet of the “waters of the state,” which includes the 100-year floodplain. According to Elaine Lutz, staff attorney at Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 54 percent of the Eastern Shore is within the 100-year floodplain, so the act inadvertently banned fertilizer use in most of Maryland’s portion of the Delmarva Peninsula. Lutz calls the bill “a correction,” preserving restrictions on fertilizer use near the waters of the state but allowing it in the 100-year floodplain. According to legislative documents, the main beneficiaries of the bill, which passed the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature, are golf courses and lawn-care businesses.
That seems like quite a substantial oversight for the legislature when you consider that agriculture is such an important  part of the economy on the Eastern Shore.  I have my doubts that the main beneficiaries are golf courses and lawn care.  What is that old saw "Measure twice, cut once"?  I hadn't thought it applied to legislation, but apparently it does.

And news that I hadn't heard yet that the legislature chickened out on charging the municipalities and counties a fair share for their contribution to pollution in Chesapeake Bay:
Senate Bill 302: Sewage Overflows. This effort to crack down on sewage-overflow violators by doubling the penalties they have to pay was gutted by an amendment that struck the penalty increases. What passed and awaits the governor’s signature is a bill that simply requires the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to publish each year’s total amount of sewage released and fines paid around Maryland. Most violators are local governments, which are likely breathing a sigh of relief to not have to fork over more money whenever they spill sewage—a regular occurrence, with 1,775 overflows last year, 39 of them a million gallons or more.
People get the government they deserve, I suppose, but I would have preferred if the legislature had gone after the cities, and forced them to pay double for their sewage spills. 

It's easy to get incensed when a private enterprise produces pollution as a consequence of their drive for profit; but it's much more difficult to hold a government guilty for it's share of pollution; they have to get the consent of the governed to pay the bill, and that's not often forthcoming.

No comments:

Post a Comment