The Hudson farm case wrapped up last month, and it was interesting to observe public comments issued by local and state elected officials.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Attorney General Doug Gansler both took turns lauding the judge’s decision that based on the evidence presented there was no Clean Water Act violation committed by Perdue and the Hudson’s family farm. Additionally, a slew of special interest groups chimed in as well with words of praise for the judge and condemnation for the environmental groups that brought the charges.
This week some Worcester County Commissioners threw their opinions into the hat as well. It’s no secret around these parts most elected officials supported the farm and were outspoken critics of the litigation, sparked locally by the Assateague Coastal Trust initially and then led by the Waterkeeper Alliance. It’s an easy political football to throw around and the argument is an obvious one for politicians to make. It goes something like, farming is the backbone of our past and present and this lawsuit jeopardizes the future of agriculture and the livelihoods of thousands of local families.
For their part, Commissioner Bud Church said, “It’s a travesty that this ever happened.” Commissioner Virgil Shockley, who raises chickens, opined, “It was an assault on the poultry farm families in the state of Maryland.”
In the meantime, what remains unclear at this point are two major aspects. One, early on in the court process, the judge said he would have no problem demanding the Waterkeeper Alliance foot some of the Hudson family’s legal bills if the case was found meritless. In his 50-page ruling, the judge never addressed that, leading many to assume that will not happen. Secondly, the Waterkeeper Alliance has not confirmed whether it will let the Clean Water Act allegations drop with this ruling or if an appeal is planned.
At this point, I hope this is the end of it. Worcester Environmental Programs Director Bob Mitchell reflected my feelings when he said at this week’s meeting, ““This case seems to have losers all the way around and I hope that we can go forward.”