Don't give farmers 10-year pass on pollution

In response to the recent article, "Bill would give farmers 10-year reprieve on new regs" (March 27) I wish to add more detail on why this bill, Senate Bill 1029, will be detrimental for Marylanders and the Chesapeake Bay.

Agriculture is the single largest source of nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. That fact alone means that farms must be closely watched to ensure they are following state and federal regulations. The proposal contradicts this important idea by providing the possibility for farms to have a 10-year exemption from new pollution regulations. This means our new laws over the next decade meant to save the bay will not actually have to be followed by some farmers. Additionally, the bill will prevent transparency by hiding how much pollution farms generate, what they must do to prevent and manage pollution, and whether or not they are in compliance with the law.

This bill, though well intended, is not what Maryland needs. Our state has worked hard to determine how to protect the bay from nutrient pollution damage, and this bill would allow farms to stagnate at the current regulatory level rather than adhere to new laws that are more informed and address new concerns. Additionally, granting agriculture an exemption when other polluting sources are not offered the same option is simply unfair because these other industries will end up having to make up for the lack of progress by exempted farms over the next decade. We must work to prevent this bill from passing in our state legislature.

This bill will soon be voted on in the House of Delegates, and I would urge every delegate to vote against it.

Erika Burns, Baltimore

The writer is a student at Loyola University Maryland.

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