What Do We Do with All This Poop?

Figure 1. Click to enlarge.

This post is the third in a series—Connecting Agriculture Policy to Your Health—by CLF-Lerner Fellow Lacey Gaechter.

What do we do with all this poop? This question has been central to the field of public health since its very inception. John Snow, the “father of public health,” ended a nineteenth-century cholera epidemic in London by deducing that the source of this disease was drinking water contaminated with sewage.

This important question is also part of the current debates in the joint House and Senate conference committee (see figure 1) on the 2018 Farm Bill. In this case, the poop under consideration is from farmed animals instead of humans. The House version of the next Farm Bill would Read More >

Two-Stage Ditch Could Reduce Farm Runoff on Eastern Shore

John Swaine III, Talbot County, Md.

John Swaine III, Talbot County, Md.

John Swaine III stands with his back to a field of soybeans, his sunburnt arms crossed, a dusty John Deere cap tucked over his strawberry blond hair. Near his feet is a ditch that runs adjacent to the winding country lane, Bellevue Road, that bisects his Talbot County, Maryland, farm.

The ditch is meant to collect rainwater that flows off of the fields and the road. For years, Swaine felt helpless when he saw the muddy brown water accumulating in the channel during a storm, knowing it contained soil from his fields that was enriched with commercial fertilizers. “It bothered me to see that water with sediment in it flowing right into the creek,” he says. “Still does.”

The problem is especially bad when the ditch overflows. The water crosses the road, runs through a field on the other side and eventually into Tar Creek. Read More >

Ruling in Support of EPA and Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

Downtown Annapolis and Spa Creek, leading into the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay.

Downtown Annapolis and Spa Creek, leading into the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay.

Five years ago, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a landmark decision to foster the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. The agency’s plan was the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL), the goal of which was to identify and control major sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in the seven Bay jurisdictions (six states and the District of Columbia) that comprise the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The TMDL effort calls for a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, a 24 percent reduction in phosphorus, and a 20 percent reduction in sediment in the Bay Read More >

What Is the Deal with WOTUS?

Blue-green harmful algae blooms

Blue-green harmful algae blooms

With the new senators and representatives reporting to Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS) may be in jeopardy. WOTUS seeks to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act, which makes it the target of attacks by incoming lawmakers. This post provides the inside scoop on why that’s bad news, and why the nation’s most vulnerable and undervalued waters are vital to us all.

The Clean Water Act, which was passed in 1972, authorized the federal government to protect the navigable waters of the United States. It was instrumental in cleaning up many of our Read More >

Team Obama In Action: The Outlook for EPA

Given today’s announcement of Obama’s likely appointment of Lisa Jackson as Administrator of the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA), how will the Obama platform impact the policy issues of importance to CLF?

Environmental Policy and the Clean Air Act

Major changes in air pollution and climate change policy are expected under the Obama Administration.  Obama’s environmental platform calls for an 80 pecent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Many anticipate President-elect Obama to direct the EPA to use the Clean Air Act of 1990 as a guideline for setting carbon dioxide emission limits on power plants and other facilities.  It is also expected that Obama will sign the California auto-emission waiver, rejected by President Bush, which would require that greenhouse gas emission from vehicles are cut by 30 percent by 2016.  With the help of incoming House Energy and Commerce Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), a strong supporter of environmental issues, these initiatives may be possible. 

Read More >