AmericanFarm.com

Gansler’s latest game of ‘chicken’ (Editorial)

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has a good story to tell.
For two years, Gansler says his office has been working to bring construction of a power plant to Maryland that would convert poultry litter to energy.
“This will be our first homegrown source of energy in Maryland,” Gansler told the Maryland Bar Journal in a recent interview.
According to Gansler, the plant would produce 160 watts of energy for every ton of litter put through the plant.
He says a site is picked out for the plant and “we have the poultry industry and farmers on board.”
The only thing standing in the project’s way, according to Gansler, is getting a utility company to sign on and buy the energy.
Legislation in 2008 classified manure-derived energy as a tier-one source along the same lines as wind, solar and biodiesel.
Since utilities in Maryland have to buy a certain amount of their energy from tier-one sources, Gansler says the power plant should be an easy sell.
But despite the fact that Gansler has yet to reveal the chosen site of this future plant after two years of talking about it, the state’s highest ranking lawyer is taking quite a leap in claiming the industry and its farmers are in favor of the plant as synthetic fertilizer prices stay high, maintaining high demand for chicken litter to be used in crop production.
The growers we’ve spoken to say chicken litter is either scarce, spoken for, or pricey, at best. Gansler also called poultry litter “Maryland’s biggest single source of pollution” even though the state’s Watershed Implementation Plan pegs manure from poultry responsible for about 6 percent of the nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay from Maryland.
According to the plan, chicken manure comes in fifth, grouped with manure from all farm animals, behind municipal and industrial wastewater, synthetic fertilizer for agricultural use, urban and suburban runoff and atmospheric deposition from automobiles, utilities and industrial sources.
These points and more were detailed in a letter from Bill Satterfield, executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., to the Maryland Bar Journal.
The Journal has since refused to print the letter, deeming it “not appropriate.”
The letter can be viewed at DPI’s website, www.dpichicken.com.
Perhaps, most laughable of Gansler’s comments to the Maryland Bar Journal was that Maryland chickens produce about 1.2 billion pounds of manure a year, “and some, likely most, goes into the water.”
Such blanket statements — Gansler trademarks — and out-of-touch misinformation are exactly the kinds of things that bring about heavy-handed regulation, undue hassles and unnecessary costs to the people who help feed this world.
But why let the truth get in the way of a good story?