Press Release: Waterkeepers Chesapeake Speak Out on O'Malley Letter to Law School Dean

Monday, November 21, 2011 - 12:00am

NOVEMBER 21, 2011, EASTON, MD     Today, the coalition of eighteen local not-for-profit Waterkeeper programs in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, known as WATERKEEPERS CHESAPEAKE, spoke out to decry the letter released on November 16 by Governor Martin O'Malley regarding a Clean Water Act citizen lawsuit currently ongoing in Maryland against industrial agriculture giant Perdue Farms, Inc. and one of its contracted poultry growers, Alan Hudson.

Governor O'Malley's letter to the Dean of the University of Maryland Law School berated young idealistic law students at the Maryland Environmental Law Clinic, who are trying to stop Bay pollution.  Governor O'Malley wrote to the law clinic suggesting that the clinic ought to represent the polluters in the lawsuit and not the conservation groups who are working to protect the public interest, the Chesapeake Bay, and the people of the State of Maryland.

"It is most unfortunate that corporate money can once again trump the public interest," said Fred Kelly, who is the Severn Riverkeeper and a Maryland attorney.  He continued, "The Governor's attempted intervention in an ongoing lawsuit raises ethical questions."

The lawsuit in question, which addresses documented bacterial and nutrient pollutants travelling from drainage ditches on the Perdue poultry growing facility into a tributary of the Pocomoke River, is about enforcing the Clean Water Act and other state regulations.

Perdue Farms Inc. controls the Hudson's poultry growing facility. Hudson is alleged to have repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act and actually admitted to violations of the Maryland Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998 that require the implementation of Nutrient Management Plans (NMP's.)

"The citizen suit provisions of the Clean Water Act provide citizen advocates the opportunity to enforce the law when government fails to," noted Drew Koslow, Choptank RIVERKEEPER.

"The Clean Water Act empowered citizens to enforce the law, and the Law Clinic's representation is what allows our fellow Waterkeepers to exercise that right and duty," said Eliza Steinmeier, Baltimore Harbor WATERKEEPER, an attorney. "We are disappointed in the Governor's inappropriate intervention in this matter. Let's leave it to the federal judicial system to make a decision in this case."

Press Contact:  Eliza Steinmeir

                            Drew Koslow


Waterkeepers Chesapeake is a coalition of eighteen independent Waterkeeper programs working to protect and restore the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays and their tributaries.  Waterkeepers Chesapeake work locally, using grassroots action and advocacy to protect their communities and their waters.  They also work regionally to share resources and leverage their individual strengths to expand each Waterkeepers capacity for on the water, citizen-based enforcement of environmental laws in the Chesapeake region. They patrol thousands of miles of tributaries and shorelines throughout the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays and are at the forefront of enforcement efforts.

Read more about the case