Friday, January 23, 2015

Gov. Hogan Rolls Back Phosphorus Regs

Hogan pulls back O’Malley regulations
A number of regulations set to be published and take effect on Friday were pulled back just hours into the new administration of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

Hogan quietly withdrew the regulations, including the controversial phosphorous management tool, after being sworn in Wednesday as Maryland’s 62nd governor.

“The Governor has directed all agencies of state governmentt to begin a comprehensive review of all pending regulations,” said Shareese Churchill, a Hogan spokeswoman. “This review process is to allow public input, public hearing and full due process before regulations are finalized. All regulations that were scheduled for final publication on January 23 will not be published.”

Churchill could not immediately provide specifics on which proposed regulations were affected but confirmed that the phosphorous management tool was among those that will not go into effect. Those regulations, which are favored by environmental groups, would have limited the use of chicken manure on Eastern Shore farms as a way of controlling the amount of phosphorous that seeps into the Chesapeake Bay.

Farmers and the poultry industry opposed the regulations.

The news met with swift rebuke from groups such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition.
We've seen this before when state's or the nation's executive changes parties. In fact, it's fairly routine for democrats to question rules that Republicans had planned to put in place, and vice versa. When G.W. Bush assumed the presidency, he stopped a number of regulations that were about to take effect, pending further review. One of these was the drinking waster standard for arsenic, which had been slated to go from 50 ppb to 10 ppb in Jan 2006. The Bush admin stopped the regulation from taking effect immediately, only to restore it after further review.

I don't think it hurts to stop and review proposals that one party is only anxious to impose as it is about to leave office, and allow the next administration an opportunity to evaluate the pros and cons.

Do we need more control of phosphorus enrichment in the Chesapeake Bay? Yes, but we also need competitive farming on the Eastern Shore, and it's not clear that the regulations were designed with farmers needs in mind. The Republicans in Maryland are strongly supported by the farmers, and after all, elections have consequences.

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