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Compromise And Continued Debate Over Chicken Manure

Matt Beckwith / Creative Commons

One of Governor Hogan’s first acts as governor was to revoke regulations proposed by his predecessor aimed at reducing phosphorous running into Chesapeake Bay.

Phosphorus is a component of the mounds of manure produced by the hundreds of millions of chickens raised in Maryland. Because it contains other nutrients, farmers use that chicken litter to fertilize grain and soybean crops. But it holds more phosphorus than already-saturated soil can absorb, and the runoff ultimately depletes oxygen in the bay. Farmers and agricultural trade groups contend it’s very costly to limit phosphorus.

When Governor Hogan, as he said, “hit the pause button” on the regulations proposed by Governor O’Malley, Democrats in the legislature immediately moved to lock the O’Malley rules into law. The situation had all the makings of a standoff – but last week a compromise was reached. We want to understand its implications and what may happen next.

We hear from a business called Energy Works that operates a power plant fueled by chicken manure. First, part of our conversation with state Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince Georges Democrat who sponsored the bill to make the regulations law.

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.