Home Local News Maryland appeals court order to regulate airborne chicken pollution

Maryland appeals court order to regulate airborne chicken pollution

by DrewLUD
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The Maryland Department of the Environment is appealing a court decision that said the state would have to regulate air pollution associated with chickenhouses — a decision that would have far-reaching implications for the Eastern Shore’s poultry industry.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Sharon Burrell ruled March 11 that Maryland must regulate ammonia released into the air as a water pollutant because some of it falls into waters protected by the federal Clean Water Act. 

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the environmental group Assateague Coastal Trust last fall over the state’s latest general discharge permit rules for animal feeding operations. The group argued that the latest rules should have been updated to include ammonia.

“Assateague Coastal Trust thinks it’s a shame that MDE has decided to appeal the Court’s ruling; we hoped they would spend this energy protecting Maryland’s waters and community health, instead of going through the appeals process,” wrote Assateague Coastkeeper Kathy Phillips in a statement.

Twenty-two-day-old chickens inside an Eastern Shore of Maryland chickenhouse.

Ammonia, which is a form of nitrogen, is a byproduct of chicken waste; chickenhouses are equipped with large fans that pull ammonia out of the houses and into the air to prevent toxic buildups. When nitrogen, an essential nutrient for plants, is deposited into waterways, it contributes to algal blooms that rob the waters of oxygen.

The state argued that to regulate a source of airborne pollution under the Clean Water Act would be a source of endless confusing red tape and set a bad precedent.

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Source: GANNETT Syndication Service