A Local Solution for a Global Problem


Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers
Nitrogen Pollution
Agricultural Issues
Municipal Solutions
EEF Ordinance
Farming Regulation
Agricultural Regulation

How to Cite

Shifren, A. (2022). A Local Solution for a Global Problem: Technology-Forcing Municipal Ordinances to Promote Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers. Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, 47(1). https://doi.org/10.52214/cjel.v47i1.9130


Nitrogen pollution is one of the most pressing environmental problems in the U.S. today, with grave implications for human and environmental health. Agricultural activities release the most nitrogen pollution of any industry, but a combination of prescriptive regulation of farmers and voluntary adoption of best practices has not solved the problem. However, municipal ordinances encouraging the sale of EEFs (Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers) could be a new approach to tackle nitrogen pollution. More than 11 million acres of corn farms, largely in just five states, apply fertilizer extremely inefficiently. These states could realize the most benefits from an EEF ordinance in the form of lowered costs for farmers, higher revenues for fertilizer companies, and fewer environmental and humanhealth problems caused by nitrogen. This Note describes the issue of nitrogen fertilizer pollution in the U.S., provides the reasoning for a municipal minimum sales share EEF ordinance, and proposes a sample ordinance that a municipality in Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, or Ohio could adopt to manage the most serious effects of nitrogen pollution on public health and the environment. This Note then analyzes the history of ordinances that municipalities have passed in order to regulate certain products similar to nitrogen fertilizers. The litigation that ensued after these ordinances passed illuminates the likely legal hurdles that an EEF ordinance would face.

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Copyright (c) 2022 Andrew Shifren