Study shows more pollution from industrial livestock operations in Chesapeake Bay, despite pledges to clean up

HARRISBURG, PA, Sept. 29, 2009 -- The Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) have released a report on the impact of industrial livestock operations on local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay...

HARRISBURG, PA, Sept. 29, 2009 -- Today, Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) released a report on the impact of industrial livestock operations on local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay, Still Out of Balance: A follow-up study of the health of the water and land of the Octoraro watershed. The report follows the 2004 study, A Barrel Full of Holes: A Case Study of Pennsylvania Regulations on High Density Livestock Farm Pollution, which documented the failure of oversight agencies to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed from pollution, and offered a number of recommendations to clean up the problem.

"Five years later, and the problem is worse," said Jan Jarrett, PennFuture's president and CEO. "Rather than reducing the amount of manure and nutrients in the watershed, they actually increased them by a significant amount. The cleanup program based on voluntary efforts is going the wrong way. You can't clean up Pennsylvania streams or the Chesapeake Bay by increasing the source of the pollution. Quite simply, voluntary regulations simply don't work. We need clear regulations, uniformly enforced, if we are ever to clean up the Bay."

"Industrial livestock operations are a major part of the problem," said Kimberly Snell-Zarcone, PennFuture's attorney for agriculture issues. "In the Octoraro watershed, a full 75 percent of the land is devoted to agriculture, with livestock producing 3.4 million pounds of nitrogen. Nearly every bit of this manure is then spread on Pennsylvania's fields -- often near high quality streams and sometimes in winter, when the fields are unable to absorb the fertilizer -- where much of it runs off into our waterways and then downstream to the Chesapeake Bay. And this report shows that the state and federal governmental agencies are simply failing to police these facilities and their disposal of manure."

"So far, the history of cleanup efforts for the Chesapeake Bay can be summed up as 'Promises made, promises broken,'" said Tanya Dierolf, central Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for PennFuture. "Pennsylvania must take specific and clear action to actually clean up the water that is going into the Bay. Our state government must enforce the laws and require operators to follow the letter and spirit of the law, nothing less. And if we can't get our water clean doing that, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should take over all enforcement, and begin denying permits to any new livestock operations that want to open in watersheds already overburdened with manure and nutrient pollution. What's at stake is not just the Chesapeake Bay, but keeping our own local water safe for all."

The report released today is available on PennFuture's website ( PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization. Working from the premise, "Every environmental victory grows the economy," PennFuture has successfully advocated for landmark environmental legislation, including passage of the largest-ever environmental funding bond, investment in green energy and energy savings programs, the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, the Clean Vehicles Program and adoption of a regulation that restricts mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.


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