Junk Science Exposed: MD General Assembly Mid-Week 7

Week 7 is becoming the week that the Maryland Left has abandoned logic and is bent on destroying itself. Earlier this week, we warned you about deceitful tactics used by radical environmentalists in their push to destroy the poultry industry. Today, we will update you on what has taken place so far.

Yesterday, the Washington Post weighed in on the embarrassing behavior displayed by the Senate President and Speaker of the House this session, calling them “deranged.” It is uncertain if the Post has taken this stance because they honestly feel that the Democratic leadership is wrong or because they worry such behavior, though they agree with it, will merely turn off voters in the future. We at Red Maryland have pointed out that the Senate President has disregarded the Maryland Constitution in his approach, so we hope that the Post is taking a strong ethical stand instead of acting out of political pragmatism.

Anti-Industry Junk Science

Freshman Delegate Clarence Lam (D-Baltimore and Howard 12) had two environmental bills based on junk science before the House of Delegates’ Environmental and Transportation Committee.

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The first, which we warned against earlier in the year, is HB 820, the so-called “REDUCE Act.” The bill would prevent various industries from moving to or being expanded in poor, predominantly minority communities for environmental reasons. The proponents testified that diesel trucks used for hauling pollute these communities and cause health problems. However, no current scientific evidence was provided to back up the claim.

Delegate Anthony O’Donnell (R-Calvert and St. Mary’s 29C) questioned Delegate Lam and his supporters as to why other poor communities that weren’t predominantly minority wouldn’t have the same concerns. The response was that only minority communities experience “additional non-chemical stressers from a life time of discrimination and poverty.” There was no further explanation as to what this meant.

Further testimony revealed that the legislation was less about actual environmental or health concerns and more of a targeted war on industries in Maryland. One proponent went so far as to testify against the existence of manufacturing located at Curtis Bay, wanting to end truck traffic there.

In opposition to the bill, the United Steel Workers Union said the legislation would be a strike against economic justice by destroying much needed, high-paying jobs in poor communities. According to his testimony, such industry jobs have the 5th highest average wage in MD, amounting to $1352 average per week, without a high educational requirement. Delegate Lam, who also sits on the committee, questioned him as how to balance jobs and “environmental justice,” but the delegate was forced to admit that it was extremely difficult to prove negative health impact by the industries.

A representative from the trucking industry also testified that the legislation would impede on a local government’s ability to encourage industry and business development in its community and make it impossible to improve the conditions of minority communities. He also revealed that even the EPA admitted that it would take 60 trucks today to produce the same amount of emissions from one truck when those studies took place.

Anti-Farming Junk Science

Delegate Lam then testified on HB 599, the “Poultry Litter Management Act” or Anti-Perdue Act. The proponents were composed of mostly environmental lobbyists with no pretend farmers. We believe our warning put a stop to such shenanigans and forced the proponents to stick with their junk science.

The testimony began with a focus on Phosphorus Management Tools (PMTs) and claims that agricultural run off was destroying the Chesapeake Bay. Also, Delegate Lam argued that the current practice of splitting manure transportation costs between Maryland Department of Agriculture and the poultry farmers is inappropriate because poultry companies are a “billion dollar industry” who “can pay for it.” After 20 minutes of testimony, Delegate Lam provided few figures or examples to back up his claims.

After Delegate Lam, a representative from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said that current practices so far have provided mix results on bay pollution, and he suggested that poultry farms are responsible for the increases still found. However, he did not mention that much of the science backing that claim was proven to be wrong in Federal court. A representative from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) then claimed that this legislation would serve as a complement to regulations that already exist and that farmers would welcome it.

None of these claims sat well with the legislators from rural communities.

Freshman Delegate William Wivel (R-Washington 2A), relying on his notes and quick internet research, questioned the proponents as to how many contract growers were actually involved in proposing the legislation. Of the 900 estimated contractors, the panel could not say anything besides “we spoke to some.” Delegate Wivell then pointed to the fiscal note regarding a negative impact, to which Delegate Lam expressed a belief that an amendment to the bill might address the matter but there was no evidence provided.

Delegate Jay Jacobs (R-Kent, Queen Anne’s, Cecil, and Caroline 36), Chairman of the Watermen’s Legislative Caucus, asked if Delegate Lam reached out to any of the Eastern Shore legislators before proposing the bill because it would affect their main industry and economy. This question seemed to baffle Delegate Lam, who was forced to admit that he didn’t meet with any of the legislators.

Then Delegate Jacobs asked why state funds should be denied farmers for PMT purposes when it is for waste water treatment facility upgrades for the same purpose. Delegate Lam didn’t answer, and Delegate Jacobs moved on to ask why most people say the water is clearer now than ever before if there is more pollution. The representatives from the CBF admitted they were astounded by water clarity and want to ramp up even more regulations because of it, ignoring his point that there is no need for more regulations.

Delegate Charles Otto (R-Somerset and Worcester 38A), Chairman of the Eastern Shore Delegation and contract poultry farmer, asked if Delegate Lam attended a phosphorus symposium that discussed scientific evidence regarding PMTs, and Delegate Lam admitted he did not. Delegate Otto then pointed out that even the author of the original phosphorus studies said that the science was changing and that it was uncertain, but Delegate Lam explained that all science by definition is evolving. Ultimately, Delegate Lam was willing to admit that the industry has done a lot to stop pollution, undermining his argument that more legislation was necessary.

Freshman Delegate Andrew Cassilly (R-Cecil and Harford 35B) questioned why the proponents suggest that the agricultural industry would benefit from the changes but all of the letters from farmers were in opposition. The CBF responded by claiming that all stakeholders came together on the issue, but could not explain why there was such opposition nor why the farmers were not consulted. To this, Delegate Cassilly pointed out that the legislation assumes the farmers would fail to meet standards already in place.

Some other delegates asked interesting questions, and there was valuable testimony from the opposition, including those from the Governor’s administration. However, it was obvious to everyone after the first round of questioning that the proponents could provide little honest justification for passing the anti-farmer legislation.

Today’s hearing exposed Delegate Lam and the radical environmentalist lobby were exposed as wanting only to destroy industry and agriculture in Maryland. However, it is uncertain if these two pieces of legislation will be rejected, especially when considering that the General Assembly has a history of passing many pieces of baseless legislation.

Although there were other important legislative issues that were discussed this week, a summary on new bills, other current hearings, and what to look for during the rest of the session will be postponed until Friday.

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