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Daily News Blog

13
Feb

Local Authority to Restrict Pesticides Would Be Codified by Federal Reform Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2023) As more and more communities across the country outlaw pesticides on their public land, parks, and playing fields, most states prohibit (or preempt) localities from restricting hazardous use on private property. As a result, pesticides used on landscapes—uses that can be replaced by organic management practices—result in chemical drift and runoff, putting the community in harms way and people involuntarily exposed. The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2023 (PACTPA), S.269, includes a provision that grants communities under federal pesticide law (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act—FIFRA) local authority to restrict pesticides on all property, public and private, within their jurisdiction. While the U.S. Supreme Court (in Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier) in 1991 found that FIFRA does not preempt local governments’ authority to restrict pesticide use in their town, cities, or counties, state governments have taken that authority away in 44 states at the behest of the pesticide lobby.

Urge your Senators to co-sponsor PACTPA and reforms to the toxic core of FIFRA, including upholding the right of local governments to restrict pesticides.

As local governments debate the hazards associated with pesticide use in their communities, many have decided to transition their public lands to organic land management. In Maine and Maryland, where the state legislatures have upheld the right of local governments to restrict pesticides on all land in their jurisdictions, localities—including, for example, Ogunquit, South Portland, and Portland in Maine, Montgomery County in Maryland, and Maui County in Hawaii—have restricted materials in landscape management on all land to those listed on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances under federal organic law (Organic Foods Production Act). South Portland, Portland, and Maui have prohibited synthetic fertilizers as well.

The adoption of organic land management has met with great success across the country. Beyond Pesticides has collaborated with dozens of communities in the adoption of organic through its Parks for a Sustainable Future program and collaborates with companies including Stonyfield Organic and Natural Grocers, a retail grocery chain that operates 160 stores in 20 western and midwestern states. In adopting organic practices and eliminating petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, communities are contributing to efforts that seek to mitigate health crises (as captured by Beyond Pesticides Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database), biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency. (See Retrospective 2021—A Call to Urgent Action)

At the same time that members of Congress are advancing local authority that upholds the democratic process to protect health and safety at the community level, the pesticide lobby (including the chemical industry, the chemical lawn care industry, and other groups with vested economic interests in producing and selling petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers) is working with members of Congress to preempt local authority to restrict pesticides through federal law. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have been pushing for preemption of local authority. In the last Congress, H.R. 7266 was introduced to prohibit local governments from adopting pesticide laws that are more protective than federal rules. While the bill did not get adopted, It is expected that the pesticide lobby and their collaborators in Congress will push to incorporate the preemption language of H.R. 7266 into the 2023 Farm Bill.  

Urge your Senators to co-sponsor PACTPA and reforms to the toxic core of FIFRA, including upholding the right of local governments to restrict pesticides.

Letter to 2021 Sponsors: Senators Booker (D-NJ), and cosponsors: Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Thank you for your sponsorship of the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2021 (PACTPA), S.269. I am looking forward to the reintroduction of PACTPA, which would provide some desperately-needed improvements to the pesticide law (FIFRA) to better protect people and the environment, including:

* Bans some of the most damaging pesticides scientifically known to cause significant harm to people and the environment:

– Organophosphate insecticides, which are designed to target the neurological system and have been linked to neurodevelopmental damage in children;

– Neonicotinoid insecticides, which have contributed to pollinator collapse around the world (the European Union and Canada have significantly restricted or banned their use to protect pollinators and other wildlife) and have recently been shown to cause developmental defects, heart deformations, and muscle tremors in unborn children;

Paraquat, which is one of the most acutely toxic herbicides in the world —according to the EPA, just “one sip can kill.” Science has shown that chronic exposure to paraquat increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 200% to 600%. It is already banned in 32 countries, including the European Union.

* Removes dangerous pesticides from the market by:

– Creating a petition process to enable individual citizens to petition the EPA to identify dangerous pesticides so that the EPA would no longer be able to indefinitely allow dangerous pesticides to remain on the market;

– Closing dangerous loopholes that have allowed the EPA to issue emergency exemptions and conditional registrations to use pesticides before they have gone through full health and safety review by the agency;

– Enabling local communities to enact protective legislation and other policies without being vetoed or preempted by state law;

– Suspending the use of pesticides deemed unsafe by the E.U. or Canada until they are thoroughly reviewed by the EPA.

* Provides protections for frontline communities that bear the burden of pesticide exposure by:

– Requiring employers of farmworkers to report all pesticide-caused injuries to the EPA, with strong penalties for failure to report injuries or retaliating against workers;

– Directing the EPA to review pesticide injury reports and work with the pesticide manufacturers to develop better labeling to prevent future injury;

– Requiring that all pesticide label instructions be written in Spanish and in any language spoken by more than 500 pesticide applicators.

Despite this impressive list of refoms, PACTPA does not touch the toxic core of FIFRA, which permits the unnecessary dispersal of toxic chemicals in the environment. To eliminate this toxic core, please consider introducing legislation to:

* Prohibit the registration and use of pesticides that do not meet these criteria:

– Necessary to prevent harm to humans and the environment based on an analysis of all alternatives;

– Cause no harm to humans and the environment; and

– Protect against the existential crises of biodiversity collapse, runaway climate change, and chronic and acute health threats.

* Require all supporting data to be submitted and examined by the public before registration (including the elimination of conditional registration).

* Deny and cancel all pesticide registrations not supported by studies demonstrating a lack of endocrine-disrupting effects.

* Deny and cancel registrations of all pesticides posing a threat to life in the soil—and hence threatening the climate.

* Deny and cancel registrations of all pesticides posing a threat to any endangered species.

Thank you.

Letter to all other Senators:

I am writing to urge you to cosponsor Senator Booker’s Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act (PACTPA), S.269. PACTPA would provide some desperately needed improvements to the pesticide law (FIFRA) to better protect people and the environment, including:

* Bans some of the most damaging pesticides scientifically known to cause significant harm to people and the environment:

– Organophosphate insecticides, which are designed to target the neurological system and have been linked to neurodevelopmental damage in children;

– Neonicotinoid insecticides, which have contributed to pollinator collapse around the world (the European Union and Canada have significantly restricted or banned their use to protect pollinators and other wildlife) and have recently been shown to cause developmental defects, heart deformations, and muscle tremors in unborn children;

Paraquat, which is one of the most acutely toxic herbicides in the world —according to the EPA, just “one sip can kill.” Science has shown that chronic exposure to paraquat increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 200% to 600%. It is already banned in 32 countries, including the European Union.

* Removes dangerous pesticides from the market by:

– Creating a petition process to enable individual citizens to petition the EPA to identify dangerous pesticides so that the EPA would no longer be able to indefinitely allow dangerous pesticides to remain on the market;

– Closing dangerous loopholes that have allowed the EPA to issue emergency exemptions and conditional registrations to use pesticides before they have gone through full health and safety review by the agency;

– Enabling local communities to enact protective legislation and other policies without being vetoed or preempted by state law;

– Suspending the use of pesticides deemed unsafe by the E.U. or Canada until they are thoroughly reviewed by the EPA.

* Provides protections for frontline communities that bear the burden of pesticide exposure by:

– Requiring employers of farmworkers to report all pesticide-caused injuries to the EPA, with strong penalties for failure to report injuries or retaliating against workers;

– Directing the EPA to review pesticide injury reports and work with the pesticide manufacturers to develop better labeling to prevent future injury;

– Requiring that all pesticide label instructions be written in Spanish and in any language spoken by more than 500 pesticide applicators.

Despite this impressive list of reforms, PACTPA does not touch the toxic core of FIFRA, which permits the unnecessary dispersal of toxic chemicals in the environment. To eliminate this toxic core, please consider introducing legislation to:

* Prohibit the registration and use of pesticides that do not meet these criteria:

– Necessary to prevent harm to humans and the environment based on an analysis of all alternatives;

– Cause no harm to humans and the environment; and

– Protect against the existential crises of biodiversity collapse, runaway climate change, and chronic and acute health threats.

* Require all supporting data to be submitted and examined by the public before registration (including the elimination of conditional registration).

* Deny and cancel all pesticide registrations not supported by studies demonstrating a lack of endocrine-disrupting effects.

* Deny and cancel registrations of all pesticides posing a threat to life in the soil—and hence threatening the climate.

* Deny and cancel registrations of all pesticides posing a threat to any endangered species.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

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