Bay commission delays vote on cleanup report

September 11, 2004|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

HARRISBURG, PA. — HARRISBURG, Pa.- The Chesapeake Bay Commission decided yesterday to postpone its vote on a report that emphasizes the role of agriculture in cleaning up the bay, saying the recommendations need more context so small farmers don't shoulder undue blame for pollution.

The report was prepared by the staff of the commission, a panel of legislators from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania that advises the three states on environmental policy.

In the report, the staff examined the 34 "best management practices" that federal environmental officials have said could curb the nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution flowing into the bay. The researchers selected seven practices they regarded as the most cost-effective.

Only one - a recommendation to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus at sewage treatment plants - addresses the problems that development and growth bring to the bay. The remaining six focus on agriculture and include such measures as planting cover crops, conserving soil and reducing the diets of farm animals.

The commission is expected to vote on a revised report at its November meeting, which will be in Richmond, Va. If approved, the report's recommendations could influence policy in the three states.

Maryland Del. James W. Hubbard, a Prince George's Democrat, said he agreed that the report should discuss air pollution and urban runoff, but thought the commission should have voted yesterday to approve it.

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