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Daily News Blog

16
Apr

Take Action: Protect Local Government Authority to Restrict Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2019) Help stop another attack on local authority in Maine – a bellwether state that has upheld local pesticide restrictions and leads the nation. Maine has led the nation in supporting the local democratic process as communities across the state have adopted pesticide use standards on public and private property that are more restrictive than state laws.

This will be the third attack on local authority in recent years – each time beaten back with public opposition. This time preemption language has been introduced as a clause in the innocuous sounding bill LD 1518, An Act to Establish a Fund for Portions of the Operations and Outreach Activities of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory and To Increase Statewide Enforcement of Pesticide Use. The language was introduced by Rep. Stephen Stanley (D), who ran unopposed in the 2018 Democratic primary.

The bill’s language establishes barriers to local decision making, giving sole authority to the state to determine the acceptability of local pesticide restrictions.  As drafted, the bill would force municipalities to submit a request to ban a substance to a statewide board, which would make the decision as to whether the community could block the chemicals.

  • 1471-CC. Elimination of use of pesticide in political subdivision
    A political subdivision of the State that wants to eliminate use in the political subdivision of a pesticide registered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency shall submit a request to eliminate use of the pesticide to the board. The board shall determine whether the pesticide should be further regulated based upon the board’s expertise in toxicology and available scientific information relating to the adverse environmental, health and other effects of the pesticide under Title 7, section 610, 26 subsection 1. The board’s review must include participation of the officers of the political subdivision and board staff and may include experts and other interested parties as the board determines appropriate.

The language in the bill represents a dramatic change in the state of Maine. Local authority allows communities the authority to represent the concerns of local residents, consider the science and need for pesticides, and affirm the importance of local jurisdictions considering local environmental conditions. A recent study, Anti-community state pesticide preemption laws prevent local governments from protecting people from harm, finds that state pesticide preemption laws “compromise public health and economic well-being” by preventing localities from enacting pesticide use restrictions on private property that are more restrictive than their state’s regulations. In the words of the authors, “By eliminating the ability of local governments to enact ordinances to safeguard inhabitants from health risks posed by pesticides, state preemption laws denigrate public health protections.” The study, published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, reviews scientific and historical evidence of the failure of state and federal pesticide laws to protect localities from pesticide poisoning, and highlights the inability of localities to compensate for that failure under present laws. Communities seeking to protect their residents typically issue community-wide restrictions to ensure protection of shared community resources, including air, land, and waterways, from pesticide drift, runoff, and other nontarget effects —as is the case with other community decisions on recycling, smoking, and zoning. The study’s authors document how industry influence led to the adoption of state laws that undermine the ability of localities to enact protective pesticide standards they determine are necessary to protect public health and the environment.

Letter to Maine Governor and State Legislature from Maine Residents: Use this link to message Governor Janet T. Mills and the Maine Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

I urge you to reject §1471-CC. Elimination of use of pesticide in political subdivision, of LD 1518. The right of local governments throughout Maine represents an important public health and environmental protection authority. Although the chemical industry had argued for over a decade in the 1980s that the nation’s federal pesticide law prohibits local regulation of pesticides, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the rights of cities and towns to regulate pesticides under federal law. The court found on June 21, 1991 that FIFRA “leaves the allocation of regulatory authority to the ‘absolute discretion’ of the states themselves, including the option of leaving local regulation of pesticides in the hands of local authorities.” Maine chose to uphold local authority.

The language in the bill represents a dramatic change in the state of Maine. Local authority allows communities the authority to represent the concerns of local residents, consider the science and need for pesticides, and affirm the importance of local jurisdictions considering local environmental conditions. A recent study, “Anti-community state pesticide preemption laws prevent local governments from protecting people from harm,” finds that state pesticide preemption laws “compromise public health and economic well-being” by preventing localities from enacting pesticide use restrictions on private property that are more restrictive than their state’s regulations. In the words of the authors, “By eliminating the ability of local governments to enact ordinances to safeguard inhabitants from health risks posed by pesticides, state preemption laws denigrate public health protections.” The study, published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, reviews scientific and historical evidence of the failure of state and federal pesticide laws to protect localities from pesticide poisoning, and highlights the inability of localities to compensate for that failure under present laws. Communities seeking to protect their residents typically issue community-wide restrictions to ensure protection of shared community resources, including air, land, and waterways, from pesticide drift, runoff, and other nontarget effects —as is the case with other community decisions on recycling, smoking, and zoning. The study’s authors document how industry influence led to the adoption of state laws that undermine the ability of localities to enact protective pesticide standards they determine are necessary to protect public health and the environment.

Thank you.

Letter to the Maine State Legislature from Non-residents: Tell the Maine Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry that you care about this attack on public health and the environment.

I am concerned about any attack on democratic values and the rights of local communities across the United States to protect themselves and the environment from the use of toxic pesticides. Because of this, I am writing you to oppose LD 1518, “An Act to Establish a Fund for Portions of the Operations and Outreach Activities of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory and To Increase Statewide Enforcement of Pesticide Use.”

As residents of the U.S., people travel, visit as tourists, and have family in all parts of the country. Because of the growing concern about the local impacts of pesticides, local governments play an important role in protecting public health and the environment. That is why I’m so concerned about this legislation, just introduced in the Maine legislature, that would take away the right of communities to restrict toxic pesticides. I am urging you to actively oppose this legislation and do everything in your power to protect the rights exercised by the local democratic process.

I urge you to reject §1471-CC. Elimination of use of pesticide in political subdivision, of LD 1518. The right of local governments throughout Maine represents an important public health and environmental protection authority. Although the chemical industry had argued for over a decade in the 1980s that the nation’s federal pesticide law prohibits local regulation of pesticides, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the rights of cities and towns to regulate pesticides under federal law. The court found on June 21, 1991 that FIFRA “leaves the allocation of regulatory authority to the ‘absolute discretion’ of the states themselves, including the option of leaving local regulation of pesticides in the hands of local authorities.” Maine chose to uphold local authority.

The language in the bill represents a dramatic change in the state of Maine. Local authority allows communities the authority to represent the concerns of local residents, consider the science and need for pesticides, and affirm the importance of local jurisdictions considering local environmental conditions. A recent study, Anti-community state pesticide preemption laws prevent local governments from protecting people from harm, finds that state pesticide preemption laws “compromise public health and economic well-being” by preventing localities from enacting pesticide use restrictions on private property that are more restrictive than their state’s regulations. In the words of the authors, “By eliminating the ability of local governments to enact ordinances to safeguard inhabitants from health risks posed by pesticides, state preemption laws denigrate public health protections.” The study, published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, reviews scientific and historical evidence of the failure of state and federal pesticide laws to protect localities from pesticide poisoning, and highlights the inability of localities to compensate for that failure under present laws. Communities seeking to protect their residents typically issue community-wide restrictions to ensure protection of shared community resources, including air, land, and waterways, from pesticide drift, runoff, and other nontarget effects —as is the case with other community decisions on recycling, smoking, and zoning. The study’s authors document how industry influence led to the adoption of state laws that undermine the ability of localities to enact protective pesticide standards they determine are necessary to protect public health and the environment.

Thank you.

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