Once again, Gov. Martin O'Malley has tried to show that he can be a player on the national stage and a potential presidential candidate. At a recent "Taste of Maryland" dinner, Mr. O'Malley tried to show Republican voters that he can move to the right by evoking memories of President George H.W. Bush's "read my lips" promise not to raise taxes and by threatening to veto the Poultry Fair Share Act, which would require large poultry producers to help pay for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay ("The chicken tax hits the fan," Feb. 17).
Mr. O'Malley is showing Big Agriculture that he is their friend, even to the detriment of the bay and the democratic process. By virtue of his veto threat and other pressures he has exerted, the environmental legislation was withdrawn before it could receive a fair hearing in the House of Delegates.
Fortunately, Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. has refused to pull the Senate version of the bill before there is a hearing. I'm sure that he is not the only senator or delegate who realizes that lawmakers can't just keep reaching into the pockets of the citizens to pay for the sins of the poultry industry.
It is time that Perdue and other large chicken manufacturers pay their fair share for their failure to abate the nitrogen and phosphorus problems created by the manure chicken farming generates that has leaked into the Chesapeake Bay, creating dead zones and algae blooms.
Farm pollution is threatening the livelihood of watermen and their ability to supply local restaurants with locally sourced seafood. It is threatening the recreation and tourism industries as well.
Left unchecked and without the necessary funds that would be provided by the Poultry Fair Share Act, I do not hold out much hope for the future of the regional treasure that is our nation's largest estuary.
Wayne R. Carson, Baltimore
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