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Before suing Pa. over Chesapeake Bay pollution, Maryland needs to regulate its own poultry industry

Before suing Pa. over Chesapeake Bay pollution, Maryland needs to regulate its own poultry industry
An aerial view looking from the Guinea section of Gloucester, Va. past Point Comfort and out into the Chesapeake Bay. (Rob Ostermaier / Staff)

The Sun’s call to sue Pennsylvania for Bay clean up, while commendable, suggests the simplistic notion that farmers should just be helped with money to address pollution runoff (“Let’s sue Pennsylvania,” July 15). But the truth is, a lawsuit would ultimately continue to let big corporate agriculture companies like Perdue off the hook.

Gov. Larry Hogan’s inaction when it comes to the pollution and other destruction created by Maryland’s own chicken factory farm industry must be confronted. Rather than paying for the pollution their growing factory farm system routinely produces, Big-Ag forces taxpayers to pay the cost of clean-up. To date, Governor Hogan has said little about this fact or analyzed how onerous poultry contracts put farmers in a position to be beholden to their companies.

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Most recently, the governor looked the other way when residents of the Eastern Shore wanted to study toxic air emissions being emitted by these same factory farms that are making people sick. Instead of calling for a full health assessment across dozens of locations, Governor Hogan directed his state agencies to work directly with industry to do a superficial ambient test at just two monitors and nix a subsequent health risk assessment of the findings.

Governor Hogan has always sided with big poultry companies over the health of Marylanders and restoration of the bay watershed. It’s time our legislature forced his hand in dealing with our own runoff issues that have been ignored for decades and call for a factory farm moratorium.

Jackie Filson, Washington, D.C.

The writer is communications manager of Food & Water Watch.

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