MD. Eastern Shore Candidates Fall Short on Bay

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The  October 28th Star Democrat Headlines shows that Chesapeake Bay issues are on the mind of voters but of low priority to local candidates. Only one candidate offered a partial Bay water quality solution. Patrice Stanley said that more organic agriculture could help Bay pollution. She is right. Diversity can help. This follows an article on October 16, which proposes grass based animal production as a major solution. Why were there no follow-up questions to a group of politicians who are obviously ill equipped or uninterested in solving our most important issue?

In October the Star Democrat reported on new technology developed by USGS, which allowed for a more accurate assessment of the sources of Chesapeake Bay pollution. USGS went back and reviewed data collected over the last twenty years for 8 rivers on the Western shore including the Susquehanna from Pennsylvania. The Potomac from Virginia and the Pawtuxet which includes Baltimore area polution and concluded that the rate of nitrogen pollution had remained consistent or declined except for the only Eastern Shore River tested. The Choptank, our major Eastern Shore River had shown an increase in the rate of nitrogen pollution of 63% since 2000. The USGS scientists assessing this result said that while the effort to reduce nutrient pollution from waste water treatment plants had been somewhat successful remediation efforts by agriculture over the last 20 years have shown no results to date and that this was an indication that implemented Best Management Practices were not effective. USGS reported in 2000 that 59% of nitrogen pollution on Delmarva came from fertilizer application mostly to corn and 35% came from chicken CAFO manure. Why were several candidates who attempted to shift blame to other States confronted with this evidence?

Don’t expect the Chesapeake Bay to improve without major reductions in fertilizer application, chicken manure management and adopting minimal USDA standards for soil management. Other severely polluted areas of corn and CAFO agriculture have a choice. People in Iowa have an opportunity to elect a grass based organic dairy farmer as Secretary of Agriculture this election cycle. He is an underdog and may not win but at least in Iowa another severely polluted area people who want clean water have a choice, which is lacking here on Delmarva with these weak candidates who pander to very strong large agricultural interests.

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