Legislative and Legal Advocacy

Matt_PLMA Rally

Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta speaks at a rally in Annapolis (photo courtesy of MLCV)

2017 General Assembly is in session January 11 to April 10 

This year MRC’s legislative theme is Don’t backtrack on the bay!

Our priorities include oysters, septic systems, stormwater, manure, fracking, and antibiotics. We will be defended any sign of rollbacks or backsliding on progress made.

Over the past year, we’ve started to experience setbacks on some of the progress made to clean up our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. For example . . .

  • Early last year, DNR stopped planned oyster restoration work on the Tred Avon River. While eventually the state decided to allow the work to continue, it came with the threat of losing federal funding and the threat of negatively impacting the progress made in oyster restoration.
  • Just a few months ago the governor announced the rollback of a septic regulation that would no longer require the use of systems that proved to reduce the most amount of pollutants from entering our rivers.
  • Recently MDA went against science evidence and changed the 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.

All of this has led groups like MRC to think about strategic ways to play defense. How can we defend against any more rollbacks or backsliding of these protective regulations and gain traction toward ensuring that our waterways are protected? We see ourselves playing defense in this legislative session and making sure that our lawmakers are making science-based management decisions on all the aspects of our communities that have an impact on the water quality.

For more information about the 2017 General Assembly session and how you can get involved to help advocate for our rivers, please contact Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta at matt@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443.385.0511.

MRC is constantly looking for ways to significantly improve water quality through legal and legislative advocacy. Previously we brought an appeal against the state of Delaware arguing that its proposed concentrated animal feeding operation regulations [CAFO regulations] were insufficient to adequately control chicken waste pollution of the upper Choptank. The case was favorably settled. With several partners, we sued Queen Anne’s County over re-zonings from agricultural to commercial use in sensitive areas of our watersheds, zoning changes that contradicted the county’s Comprehensive Plan. We were successful in a precedent setting ruling. We are active in Annapolis each legislative session advocating for laws that protect our waterways in meaningful ways, such as our new lawn fertilizer reform law, a ban on arsenic in chicken feed, and the phosphorus management tool (PMT). We are working with state and local governments to facilitate the enactment of effective measures to further the laudable goals of the new Chesapeake Bay pollution diet that each jurisdiction must now employ.

Suzanne Don't be Chicken

On key issues, we mobilize and activate interested MRC members to contact elected officials in support of our initiatives. If you are interested in being a part of MRC’s Advocacy Support Group please, email our Volunteer Coordinator at Suzanne@midshoreriverkeeper.org.