Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) on Monday submitted a plan that he said will help clean up the Chesapeake Bay, but includes a one-year delay on proposed regulations that would limit the amount of chicken manure farmers can use as fertilizer on their fields.

Governor Hogan presented the new rules as a compromise from the regulations that previous Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration has offered and were on the verge of being finalized when Governor Hogan pulled them on his first day in office. Hogan’s plan mirrors the rules offered by O’Malley except for the provision that would suspend full implementation of phosphorus limits, called the Phosphorous Management Tool.

Governor Hogan’s regulations, which would be enacted by June, were announced just as a Senate committee hearing was scheduled to discuss a bill introduced by Senator Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince Georgia’s Country) that mirrors rules that were pushed by former Governor Martin O’Malley (D).

Officials from Hogan’s administration said the new plan is an effort to find middle ground between concerns about the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the added cost and paperwork the rules impose on poultry farmers.

“Protecting the bay is a shared responsibility and placing disproportionate burden on any one region or any group is simply unfair,” Hogan said during a news conference early this week.  “Like everyone else, I want to clean up the bay, but I reject the idea that we must destroy a way of live on the Eastern Shore in order to make that happen,” Hogan said.

Hogan’s plan, which  includes an immediate ban of additional phosphorus on fields that test the highest for it; especially those close to a stream or body of water; a test of phosphorus levels on farms across Maryland; and additional funds to help the Maryland Department of Agriculture prepare the new rules.  The rules also allow for delays if officials decide poultry growers do not have viable alternative uses for their manure or if there is not an affordable system in place to haul it to faraway farms where it can be spread without posing water quality problems.

Senator Pinsky, who is chairman of the regulations committee and the Senate’s environment subcommittee, said earlier this week that he was glad his legislation had prompted the Hogan administration to act after pulling the plug on the O’Malley rules just before they were to take effect.  But, after reviewing the Hogan rules, he said he believed they were significantly weaker than those they are supposed to replace.  “The regulations that are proposed are very, very loose, and it worries me,” said Pinsky.  “I don’t know how long we can wait to have effective policy to clean up the bay,” he said.

Pinsky noted that the rules Governor Hogan is proposing would not take effect until after the 90-day legislative session ends.