In 2004, Pennsylvania was faced with an estimated $8.2 billion capital cost of meeting U.S. EPA's total maximum daily load mandates for its share of the Chesapeake Bay clean-up. That's not all. Another $665 million in annual costs would have been required for Bay's largest nitrogen contributor.
But based on a ground-breaking nutrient credit trading pilot project results involving three Keystone State farms, taxpayer costs may be reduced as much as 80%. That's the bottom line of a recent report released by Pennsylvania General Assembly's Joint Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.
In a nutshell, the policy initiative enables low-cost verified nitrogen reductions from agriculture, primarily livestock, to replace high cost municipal and storm water reductions to comply with the federal Chesapeake Bay federal mandate.
"Local livestock operations have already been approved to provide verified nitrogen reductions from livestock," confirms former U.S. Ag Secretary Ed Schafer. "They could produce a significant impact on lowering the costs to Pennsylvania tax and rate payers for watershed clean-up efforts."
Nonpoint-source agriculture and urban runoff from impervious surface account for about 80% of Pennsylvania's total required nitrogen reductions. The cost to achieve N reductions called for under the federal Watershed Improvement Plans for agriculture and urban runoff were projected to be 80% to 85% lower under a competitive nutrient trading bidding program than if achieved through best management practices.
Two years ago in January, American Agriculturist's cover story shared a technological ground-breaking project at Kreider Farms of Manheim, Pa. Bion Environmental Technologies overhauled the farm's dairy At Hillandale Farms of Gettysburg, Pa., EnergyWorks BioPower has constructed a gasification energy and nutrient recovery facility capable of processing all the manure produced by 5 million layer hens.