West and Rhode Riverkeeper

We work with our community to enforce environmental law, to
promote restoration, and to advocate for better environmental policy.
Contact us: 443-758-7797  ♦  PO Box 172, Shady Side, MD 20764


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Legislative Update #1 2017

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The West & Rhode Riverkeeper is one of 19 independent RIVERKEEPER®, SHOREKEEPER®, COASTKEEPER® organizations partnering together under Waterkeepers® Chesapeake to follow legislation at the local, state and federal level. We are tracking bills in the interest of clean water in order to maintain and restore swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters in the Chesapeake Bay.

As the legislative sessions move along, we may want you to write your legislator to help us support specific bills. Be on the lookout for our legislative Action Alerts or subscribe to your local independent Waterkeeper lists to stay up to date on actions they are supporting.

Here's what's happening in Maryland:The state of Maryland’s General Assembly’s 90 day session meets January 11 to April 10.

Fracking ban. The current moratorium on fracking in Maryland will expire October 2017. A bill (Senate Bill 740) to ban fracking in the state of Maryland is working its way through the 2017 Maryland General Assembly. Send an email to your Maryland legislator today and tell them you support #cleanwater and want fracking to stay out of our state.

Septic regulations. The “On-site Sewage Disposal-Best Available Technology” (House Bill 281) is in the Maryland House of Delegates and is supported by Waterkeepers around the region. In August, Gov. Larry Hogan rolled back state requirements for new construction to use Best Available Technology (BAT) when installing new septic systems. This legislation would require new construction to use BAT in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal bays watershed (support).

Atrazine study. Atrazine is an herbicide widely used for weed control on farms, lawns, along roadways and golf courses. It is one of the most commonly detected chemicals in drinking water supplies and has been associated with adverse reproductive effects. A study would allow Maryland to collect data on usage (support).

Polystyrene phase-out bill (Senate Bill 186) would prohibit the use or sale of polystyrene food service products or loose fill packaging. Have you been to a citizen cleanup effort with any Chesapeake Bay Waterkeeper? If you have, you’ve probably bagged quite a few of these pieces, commonly known as styrofoam. The Baltimore Harbor Riverkeeper is working on this legislation to phase it out. With a decomposition rate of over 500 years, this is great news for the Bay, oceans and marine life (support).

Clean Water Commerce Act of 2017 (House Bill 417) The bill would take up to $10 million of allocated funding from the Bay Restoration Fund earmarked for specific wastewater improvement projects in urban areas and direct those funds to an undefined trading program, moving pollution around rather than reducing it (oppose).

Oysters. Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is working to ensure that oyster restoration and recovery work in the Chesapeake Bay continues. In 2016, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources halted oyster restoration work in the Tred Avon River, threatening federal funding for the project. While the state eventually allowed the work to continue, there have been ongoing threats to the continuation of oyster recovery work and habitat restoration (no legislation at this time).

Winter manure application. The Maryland Department of Agriculture recently changed laws that restricted the application of manure and fertilizers in the wintertime when the ground is frozen and plants aren’t taking up as many nutrients. Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is supporting a restoration of the manure rules (no legislation at this time).

Fair Farms, a Waterkeepers® Chesapeake campaign for food and farm sustainability is working on four bills this year:

  • The Keep Antibiotics Effective Act (Senate Bill 422) would limit the use of human antibiotics in farm animals that are not sick (support).

  • The Maryland Farm and Families Act (Senate Bill 278). This legislation would double the purchasing power of food-insecure Marylanders by increasing revenue streams through federal benefit programs for farmers at Maryland farmers markets (support).

  • The Food Donation Pilot Program (Senate Bill 416) would allow farmers to donate their leftover foods at the end of a farmers market and receive a tax credit in return (support).

  • Healthy Soils (not yet filed). This bill by Del. Dana Stein would provide incentives for farmers who farm sustainably in the state (support with amendments).