Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Conservative Environmentalist in Sussex County

A. Judson Bennett is a longtime conservative Republican from Lewes. His feature, Jud’s Rant, is a regular fixture at First State Politics. Yesterday in a special posting, Bennett writes of how he came to call himself an environmentalist:
Although, I am for the most part a conservative Republican and capitalist, I have become through a metamorphosis of sorts, a dedicated environmentalist and managed growth proponent. My research on the issues, my involvement in politics, and my natural history as a Sussex Countian have indeed convinced me that I am now on the right path.
Because of my past relationships and employment with a developer, being a former member of the Positive Growth Alliance (PGA), having substantial involvement with other related concerns, and indeed an earlier ambivalence in finding my way, my opponents from the PGA will tell you I am a fraud and insincere.
Sussex County's inland bays are deteriorating from the effects of what is call nutrient loading. Nitrogen and phosphorous from farming and lawn fertilizers running off into the bays is wreaking havoc on the sensitive ecosystem of southern Delaware, a problem exacerbated by rapid development.
Bennett describes how the State Senate intervened to keep DNREC from promulgating regulations requiring a 100 foot riparian buffer of unpaved, undeveloped land to filter out these nutrients before they reach the bays. The Senate voted to reduce the buffers to 50 feet. Bennett slams the Senate's action, citing research conducted by the Center for the Inland Bays that confirms the rationale for establishing a 100 foot buffer:
To be specific, a 3 week test was conducted at Hopkins Prong which runs into Herring Creek and at Dirickson Creek which runs into the Little Assawoman Bay. The results were very similar to that which has been proven in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed time and time again where they require 300 foot buffers! At Hopkins Prong, it was found that a 50 foot buffer would only filter annually 7.90 pounds of nitrogen and only a measly 0.6 pounds of phosphorous. However, the same study showed without a doubt that a 100 foot buffer would filter out annually 769 pounds of nitrogen and 47.5 pounds of phosphorous! Quite a difference huh???
At Dirickson Creek in the south where the land is more flat the results were even more startling: It was determined by the same test that a 50 foot buffer would annually only filter out 114.5 pounds of nitrogen and only 8.2 pounds of phosphorous. It was determined that a 100 foot buffer would remarkably filter out annually 5030 pounds of nitrogen and 310.4 pounds of phosphorus. This was all spelled out in the October 10th edition of the Cape Gazette newspaper on the front page. Is that enough scientific evidence for you folks we elected to represent us in Dover???
The entire piece is worth reading. And if you go to the research page of the Center for the Inland Bays, you can read about the study Bennett refers to.


Blogger jason said...

Tom -

Do you "tag" your posts as local? If so how. I noticed you get on Leftyblogs and I put Delawarelibeal RSS code in there but nothing gets put up.

11:37 PM, October 14, 2006  
Blogger Catbird said...

This appeared in Friday's New York Times:

Expert Federal Panel Urges New Look at Land Use Along Coasts in Effort to Reduce Erosion

Unless there are major changes in the regulation of land use along the United States’ sheltered coasts, many landscapes in the nation’s estuaries, bays, lagoons and mudflats will be damaged or destroyed by erosion, an expert panel reported yesterday.

The panel recommended replacing local regulatory regimes with approaches for larger regions carried out with an eye to long-term effects.

Still, a regional regulatory body is likely to be as subject to pressure from development and property rights interests as a local or state agency -- barring a conversion experience like Bennett's. In the meantime, short-term gain will trump (and drive) longterm, and perhaps permanent, damage.

T.R. would be proud of Bennett.

1:32 AM, October 15, 2006  
Blogger mmahaffie said...

Jud's a pretty good guy, and it has been fascinating to watch him develop his position on growth in Sussex County.

He makes some good points, but sometimes with too much anger. I think he may need to tone down a notch or two to take full advantage of his growing moral authority.

I'm on Jud's "Coastal Conservative" e-mail network though I am a Shoreline Lefty myself. I have to add that I am dissapointed by the sometimes juvenile anti-immigrant and Hilary-hating things he forwards to that list. That stuff doesn't help.

5:02 PM, October 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cool stuff Molly!!!!
I read Jud's stuff on FSP all the time and I will take his rants (minus the national scale politics as FSP takes me!!)

12:46 PM, October 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jud is doing a public service and challenging the powers-that-be. Someone has to do it!

9:19 AM, October 18, 2006  

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