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Daily News Blog

03
Jan

Malibu, California Passes Pesticide Ban in a Big Win for Local Wildlife

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2020) In a hard-earned win, the city of Malibu, California collaborated with the Coastal Commission to ban toxic pesticide use in their community. While the city had already voted to ban all toxic pesticides back in 2016, the state’s pesticide law preempts, or prohibits, a municipality from restricting private use of pesticides more stringently than the state. However, the Coastal Commission, as a state agency that establishes agreements with municipalities—known as a “Local Coastal Program” or “LCP”—circumvents the preemption issue. The  municipal agreement document codifies regulations that are set up between the Coastal Commission and a local jurisdiction.

On December 9, 2019, Malibu City Council unanimously voted to amend Malibu LCP to ban the use of toxic pesticides. Many advocates gave passionate testimony at the voting session, including environmental experts and attorneys that spoke to the legality of the move and the legal protection from predicted pesticide industry backlash.

Activist Joel Schulman of Poison Free Malibu said about the ban, “We’re basing our local coastal program amendment on what [unincorporated L.A.] County did in 2014.” That year, L.A. County and the Coastal Commission banned anticoagulant rodenticides and some toxic pesticides in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains Coastal Zone LCP.

In September 2017, a Superior Court rejected a lawsuit challenging the decision and reaffirmed the ability of the Coastal Commission to work with municipalities to restrict pesticide use. “I actually went to the Coastal Commission meeting and asked them to help spread the same kind of prohibitions up and down the coastal zone,” said Mr. Schulman.

While there has been debate on their legal authority, Malibu’s local lawmakers have largely been supportive of promoting this ban. “This has to happen,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mikke Pierson. “If it ends up in some sort of lawsuit we’ll go there. This means everything.”

California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation rejects the new pesticide ban. Spokeswoman Charolette Fadipe wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times, “We believe [Malibu’s] action exceeds their authority and the proposed ordinance would be preempted.”

Californian advocates have been motivated to act on pesticide reform, particularly regarding rodenticides, to protect wildlife and children. The poisoning of charismatic big cats such as P-22 sparked awareness about the risks of rodenticides. Wildlife are at high risk of secondary poisoning from eating contaminated animals.

“Anticoagulant rodenticides are just one element of the larger problem of long-lasting poisons introduced to our coastal environment that place biological resources and sensitive habitats at risk,” state Senator Henry Stern noted in a letter of support for the Malibu ordinance. “I … encourage you to take the necessary steps to protect our cherished natural habitats and wildlife.”

Even as advocates celebrated this local win, Mayor Karen Farrer called for advocates to keep up pressure regarding state bill AB-1788, to ban virulent, second-generation anticoagulants (SGARs) from both nonagricultural private and public use across the state. Vigilant lobbying by pest control companies caused the bill to stall in committee in August. The bill has been extended a year for further work.

Other groups are in the statewide fight: environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity has sent in an intent to sue California pesticide regulators on some toxic rodenticides and their threat to endangered species such as San Joaquin kit foxes and California condors.

For more information on managing rodent problems without toxic, “super-predator” rodenticides, see Beyond Pesticides ManageSafe webpage. And to promote on-farm reduction of anti-coagulant rodenticides, support organic agriculture, which doesn’t allow this type of rodent poison and requires any measure addressing rodent pests be guided by a pre-determined organic systems plan.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Sources: LA Times, M’Online  

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One Response to “Malibu, California Passes Pesticide Ban in a Big Win for Local Wildlife”

  1. 1
    Peter Foster Says:

    Hi,
    Well done to all. A large step forward for California and an even bigger step forward for the rest of the world. Other countries are looking on with interest.
    Regards
    Peter

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