StateImpact Pennsylvania — by Rachel McDevitt — May 1, 2020
Report finds poultry farming sends more pollution to Chesapeake Bay than previously thought
"An environmental watchdog group says emissions from poultry farms are having a larger impact on the Chesapeake Bay than previously thought.
The Environmental Integrity Project’s (EIP) analysis estimates that about 1 million more pounds of nitrogen pollution are entering the Chesapeake Bay each year from the poultry industry than state and federal cleanup programs estimate.
It said that’s because the Environmental Protection Agency is using outdated information to account for ammonia emissions from chicken barns. The gas breaks down in the environment and releases nitrogen.
EIP took 2018 data from the federal and state Chesapeake Bay Program on the amount of pollution entering the bay’s tidal waters and used information from recent emissions studies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest farm census to adjust for new estimates. It said ammonia air pollution from the poultry industry in bay states contributes about 12 million pounds of nitrogen to the bay every year, bringing total nitrogen runoff to about 24 million pounds annually.
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Press Secretary Shannon Powers said in a statement that state law exempts air emissions from animal waste from reporting to the EPA.
“The estimate of additional nitrogen cited in the report, though it sounds significant, is a small fraction of the total nitrogen and is likely attributable to a rounding error due to unknowns and assumptions used in interpreting the Bay Model,” Powers said. . ."
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For more information:
USGS updates trends for nutrients and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed