Nutrient Management Act Needs Improvement
The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club is delighted that steps are being taken to strengthen the state’s water quality, including Delaware’s Nutrient Management Act (Title 3 Delaware Code Chapter 22), the purpose of which is:
To regulate those activities involving the generation and application of nutrients in order to help improve and maintain the quality of Delaware's ground and surface waters and to meet or exceed federally mandated water quality standards, in the interest of the overall public welfare (Title 3 Delaware Code §2201).
However, we are very concerned that important documentation about nutrient management has been exempted from the Freedom of Information Act; for example:
Animal waste management plans, nutrient management plans and records of implementation shall not be considered as public records under the Freedom of Information Act and shall not be disclosed, except, however, that they shall be made available for inspection by the Delaware Department of Agriculture and the Commission (Title 3 Delaware Code §2247(c)).
While the State of Delaware has exempted important documents from public view, it has also established that access to the information that guides decision-making is essential to a free and democratic society. Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act declares:
It is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that our citizens shall have the opportunity to observe the performance of public officials and to monitor the decisions that are made by such officials in formulating and executing public policy; and further, it is vital that citizens have easy access to public records in order that the society remain free and democratic (Title 29 Delaware Code §10001).
That “animal waste management plans, nutrient management plans and records of implementation“ that are being kept “in the interest of the overall public welfare” are not available for public inspection prohibits the public from determining if their interest is being met. The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club therefore asks that the above-referenced sentence in Title 3 §2247(c) be stricken from the Delaware Code.
Write to the Chairman of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Committee and request that the Freedom of Information Act exemptions be excluded from the Nutrient Managment Act!
Senator David B. McBride, Chairman
Natural Resources and Environmental Control Committee
Delaware State Senate
PO Box 1401
Dover, DE 19903
Wednesday, April 18, 2012