Virginia passes environmental stewardship legislation
A new package of laws in Virginia seeks to provide more protection for sensitive natural environments affected by farmers’ use of fertilizer. At the same time, the new laws also giving farmers incentives to decrease their use of the chemicals.
Legislation signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell on Aug. 11 includes measures to regulate the use of certain fertilizers, and allow agricultural land to be deemed in full compliance with its total maximum daily load allocation upon implementation and maintenance of a resource management plan. It also authorizes the Secretary of Natural Resources to study the expansion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Nutrient Credit Exchange Program, which gives financial incentives for agencies discharging nitrogen and phosphorus within the Chesapeake Bay watershed to reduce the amount of the nutrients they release into the bay. “Agriculture is the largest industry in Virginia, generating an annual economic impact of $55 billion and providing more than 357,000 jobs across the Commonwealth,” McDonnell said in a statement. “It is essential that we continue to implement environmentally sound measures that ensure this industry will grow and thrive, while simultaneously working towards enhancing water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s other watersheds. The eight pieces of legislation signed today are a positive step in that direction.”
The new laws prohibit the sale, distribution and use of fertilizer and deicing products containing phosphorus beginning Dec. 31, 2011. The laws also revise regulations on fertilizer production and the development of plans to restore “impaired waters.”
Read McDonnell’s full press release.