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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Alaska' Category


On Indigenous Peoples Day, Highlighting Indigenous Knowledge To Address the Biodiversity Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, October 9, 2023) On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the world turns its attention to the invaluable wisdom that Indigenous communities possess, highlighting their crucial role in addressing the global biodiversity crisis.  While facing disproportionate harm from unjust policies and practices that pollute, Indigenous communities are gaining federal and international recognition as key players in preserving the planet’s ecological balance.  Many Indigenous communities have a profound connection to, and unique relationship with its land, carrying with them ancestral wisdom that has sustained their ecosystems for generations. Indigenous knowledge, passed down through centuries, emphasizes the intricate relationships between species, the balance of ecosystems, and the importance of coexistence with nature. This knowledge has allowed Indigenous Peoples to thrive sustainably for millennia.  In the face of the growing biodiversity and climate crises, Indigenous wisdom and traditional insights are a part of the solution. During the 2022 White House Tribal Nations Summit, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) unveiled historic guidance for federal departments and agencies regarding Indigenous Knowledge. This guidance, accompanied by an implementation memorandum, acknowledges the importance of valuing and adopting Indigenous Knowledge into federal decisionmaking to enhance scientific and […]



DDT in Glacial Melt Puts Alaskan Communities at Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2018) Meltwater and runoff from Alaskan glaciers contain detectable levels of organochlorine pesticides that bioconcentrate in fish and put individuals at risk, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Maine (UMaine). DDT, lindane, and other organochlorines have been detected throughout the world, even in natural areas thought to be untouched, and pristine. As UMaine scientists show, the atmospheric transport and ubiquitous deposition of these pesticides continues to pose risks to U.S. residents long after regulations banned their use. Although most of the highly toxic class of organochlorine pesticides like DDT were banned in the early 1970s, some chemicals retained certain uses. Lindane, for example, had its pest management uses phased out gradually until 2007, but is still allowed today as a scabies and lice shampoo. While use of these pesticides has declined in the U.S., much of the developing world, including many Asian countries, such as China, India, and North Korea, still report use. This results in atmospheric transport of the pesticides, and relevant to the UMaine research, increases the likelihood that the chemicals will eventually be deposited onto Alaskan glaciers through snow or rain. The UMaine research team investigated the amount of […]



Anchorage, Alaska Passes Law Restricting Toxic Pesticide Use in Public Spaces

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2017) Last week, the Assembly of Anchorage, Alaska voted 10-1 to pass AO2017-59, an ordinance instituting a pesticide-free program on public parks, lands, and properties. The measure codifies and strengthens important protections for public health, particularly children’s health, water quality and the wider environment from the hazards of toxic pesticide use. “Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles should not have to worry whether their child will be exposed to a harmful pesticide that could have long-term health consequences when they visit public parks to enjoy the great Alaska outdoors,” stated Pamela Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), which helped galvanize community support for the measure. The new law, introduced by Assembly chair Elvi Gray-Jackson and vice chair Dick Traini, was the product of months of community stakeholder meetings and input. “That’s the way I like to do business in this community,” Ms. Gray-Jackson said to KTUU on the night the bill was passed. “Bring all the stakeholders together and have them work it out so we don’t waste a lot of time at this level.” Like recent policies passed in Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, MD and South Portland, ME, the law establishes a […]



Will White House Help Bees, as Declines Threaten to Sting Consumers’ Wallets, and States Respond?

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2015) According to recent reports from local California news outlets, Honey Bees are in Short Supply In Central Valley, with the risk that consumers across the United States will be seeing higher prices on fruits, nuts, and vegetables this year as a consequence of declining honey bee populations. The ongoing pollinator crisis has resulted in greater than 30% of managed bee colonies dying off each winter since 2006, an unsustainable rate that will inevitably impact the pocketbooks of consumers in the U.S. and may even ultimately result in global malnutrition. But that doesn’t have to be the outcome. As Beyond Pesticides continues to remind concerned residents, although there are a number of hazards affecting honey bee populations, this crisis is No Longer a Big Mystery. The scientific evidence shows that a class of toxic, persistent, systemic chemicals called neonicotinoids present immense risks to honey bees and other pollinator species. Twenty-nine scientists spanning multiple disciplines analyzed over 800 peer-reviewed papers on the subject came to a similar conclusion. “The assessment found that both individuals and populations can be adversely affected by low or acute exposure making them highly vulnerable. Pollinators exposed to contaminated pollen, nectar and water […]



“Garden City of Alaska” Passes Comprehensive Pesticide Ordinance, Bans Bee-Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, September 25, 2014) Last week, the Borough of Skagway, Alaska passed a comprehensive vegetative maintenance pesticide ordinance, joining a growing number of localities across the country in enacting restrictions that protect human health, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards associated with unnecessary pesticide use. Among a number of notable accomplishments, Skagway’s Ordinance 14-15 makes it the first municipality in Alaska to ban the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoids by government employees. However the new law goes further, prohibiting the sale and use of neonicotinoid-containing products on all public and private lands in the Borough of Skagway. The state of Alaska is one of seven states that affirms the right of a local jurisdiction  to restrict pesticide use throughout its jurisdiction by not adopting law that preempts localities. Skagway, Alaska’s Ordinance 14-15 also: Prohibits the sale and use of persistent herbicides (persistent according to the US Composting Council) on public and private property. Prohibits the use of restricted herbicides within 300 feet of any waterway. Creates a list of restricted pesticides (based in part upon the list of pesticides restricted in Takoma Park, Maryland). Although the ordinance establishes a waiver system by which restricted pesticides may be used, […]



Fish from Alaskan Wilderness Contaminated with Banned Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2014) A new study released last week by the National Park Service on contaminant use in Alaska, found traces of pesticides in fish ””pesticides which have long been banned and likely never been used within the Alaskan wilderness areas. Researchers examined three Alaskan parks renowned for their remote, pristine and protected wilderness ””Lake Clark National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Katmai National Park”” only to find that contaminants, including PCBs at concentrations exceeding those in the lower 48 states. The study, Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Fish from Western US and Alaska National Parks””Spatial Distribution and Health Thresholds, published in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, sought to compare contaminant level found within fish across the nation. Generally, researchers found that Alaskan fish were more likely to have traces of older chemicals, while those in the lower 48 tended to be dominated by newer chemicals. The most commonly detected chemicals are PCBs, endosulfan, sulfate and p,p’-DDE, a breakdown product of DDT.  Some of these long-banned chemicals actually exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guidelines for human subsistence on fish and wildlife. Among those exceeding acceptable levels, dieldrin, chlordane, and p,p’-DDE have been […]



Public Comment Process on Pesticide Use under Attack in Several States

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2013) Both current and future pesticide laws are under assault in several states. State-run agencies in Alaska are no longer required to solicit public comments or a review process for pesticide applications on state land due to new regulations adopted by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In Maine, the state Board of Pesticides Control is considering a proposal that weakens requirements for notification of pesticide spraying in fear of West Nile Virus (WNv) problems this summer. A state bill introduced in Hawaii to require neighbors to share specific information on pesticides being used to any abutting property owners was revised by various Hawaii statehouse committees until all notification rules in the bill were removed. Alaska The decision in Alaska, which will go into effect on March 7th, allows state agencies to spray pesticides on state land without having the application subject to public comment. The new regulation replaces the former transparent process with one that only requires agencies to develop an Integrated Pest Management Plan and submit it to the DEC. This new regulation takes away the ability for the public’s input to have an impact on proposed pesticide applications on state land. The […]



Take Action: Alaska Proposes to Restrict Public Comments on Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2012) The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), along with Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, has proposed drastic changes to state pesticide regulations that will eliminate public participation for pesticide use, undermining the democratic process and affecting public and environmental health. Earlier this week, Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) expressed concern about the proposal. “If someone’s plans risk poisoning our drinking water or fishing streams, Alaskans should have a say,” said Rep. Gara. “Alaskans have a right to fish our streams, drink our water, and hunt without fear that our resources will be contaminated by toxic pesticides. If the Parnell administration blocks public comment, it would rob Alaskans of their fundamental right to speak on potential damage to fish and wildlife, and dangers to our children and drinking water.” In his official comments, Rep. Gara wrote, “I believe Alaskans should have a right to comment on important state issues. Elimination of a public commenting process by a state agency is always cause for concern, and when the public process pertains to human health and safety, the action is particularly disconcerting.” Not all of the proposed changes are bad. For instance, the proposed pesticide regulation changes will require the […]



Alaska Supreme Court Issues Restraining Order on Herbicide Spraying By Railroad

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2010) Alaska’s Supreme Court halted plans to use glyphosate to kill weeds along track owned by the Alaska Railroad, which is believed to be the only herbicide-free stretch of rail in the country. This decision is in response to an emergency petition filed by Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) and others against the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARC) who requested the use of glyphosate for weed control. On June 2, 2010, ACAT joined with other community groups in challenging a permit that would allow the Alaska Railroad to spray toxic herbicides along the railbelt from Seward to Indian for the first time in 26 years. On July 14, 2010, the court ordered a temporary temporary restraining order and prelminary injunction for the planned spray program, in response to an emergency petition (and memorandum of points and authorities) filed by Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Alaska Center for the Environment, Alaska Survival, Cook InletKeeper and the Native Village of Eklutna. The Alaska Railroad Corporation requested permission to use the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and Agri-Dex, along a 90 mile stretch of its track between Seward and Indian. […]



Alaskan Non-Profit Stops Pesticide Use on Local Park

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2010) Under pressure from the grassroots group Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), the city of Anchorage canceled plans to spray the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba on the Town Square Park citing concerns over the safety of children playing in the park. ACAT members attended the Anchorage Assembly public meeting with an NBC TV affiliate and discussed their reservations over spraying Town Square Park, a popular gathering place for families, workers eating their lunches, and tourists. Soon after, the mayor announced the spraying would be canceled, and that the city would remove dandelions by hand. Environmentalists called the decision a victory for the health of Anchorage residents and the environment. 2,4-D is associated with a host of adverse human impacts, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, endocrine disruption, reproductive and developmental effects, as well as water contamination and toxicity to aquatic organisms. It is one of the most widely used herbicide for the control of broadleaf weeds in commercial agriculture and residential landscapes in the U.S. About 46 million pounds of 2,4-D are used annually, with 16 million pounds used in non-agricultural settings, including parks, playing fields, and residential lawns. Its health risks prompted a Special Review in […]



Use of Herbicide Glyphosate Up for Review on Alaskan Railway

(Beyond Pesticides, August 13, 2009) The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is currently reviewing a request by the Alaska Railroad for permission to use the herbicide glyphosate along a 90 mile stretch of its track between Seward and Indian. The herbicide is set to be applied on Railroad operating property (rail yards, spurs, sidings, etc) and along the mainline and branch line right-of way for four feet out from both sides of the track in the summer of 2010. Despite the fact that previous requests have been met with opposition, the railroad states that its vegetation problem has gotten too out of hand for “so-called ”˜alternative methods.’” They also state that the Federal Railroad Administration, the railroad’s federal regulatory agency, will impose fines and operational restrictions such as reducing speeds or emergency closures of some sections of track if they aren’t cleared of the overgrown vegetation. Current methods of weed management utilized by the railroad are mechanized rail-based brushcutters, off-rail hydroaxing, wayside manual cutting. The extents to which these methods are used are unknown, however, and the railroad states that these are effective””but only within limited ranges. Beyond Pesticides has an entire factsheet on least toxic control of weeds which […]



Fish and Wildlife Service Sued on Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 26, 2008) On November 10, two Alaskan environmental groups sued the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for failing to conduct a proper assessment of the environmental consequences of using herbicides to kill non-native species in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The groups, Alaska Survival and Alaska Community Action on Toxics, allege that FWS sprayed hundreds of gallons of herbicide in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge over the past several years. In the complaint to the U.S. District Court of Alaska, the groups say FWS violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to conduct adequate investigations on the environmental impacts of pesticide use and by failing to inform the public of the practice. The lawsuit states, “(Fish and Wildlife) failed to consider the potential harm to aquatic organisms, fish, birds, insects and other non-target species, as well as the potential for adverse effects to humans visiting the area,” and that the “defendants failed to consider the effect of herbicide use on the commercial salmon fishing industry and on subsistence users.” Under NEPA, all federal agencies are required to conduct an Environmental […]



Alaska Says Railroad Spraying Is Off Track

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2007) In a victory for Alaska’s environmental community, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has denied the Alaska Railroad Corporation’s (ARRC) application to spray herbicides, citing water quality concerns. The decision effectively maintains a record of over 20 years of non-chemical vegetation management of Alaska’s railways. ARRC submitted the application to spray herbicides last year to DEC. According to DEC’s documents, the proposed treatment area included approximately 500 miles of track and 100 miles of rail yard. The spray mixture proposed would have been comprised of three pesticide products: Razor Pro (active ingredient glyphosate*), Solution Water Soluble (dimethylamine salt of 2,4-D*), and Oust Extra (sulfometuron methyl and metsulfuron methyl). The mixture would have also contained the drift retardant Alenza (proprietary polyvinyl polymer). ARRC claims on its website it has “tried to control vegetation along its track with non-chemical methods including mechanical brush-cutting, manual labor, steam and burning since 1983. Despite these efforts, the volume and location of vegetation along the track has resulted in stiff fines from the Federal Railroad Administration, the railroad’s federal regulatory agency.” Over one thousand written comments were filed with DEC, and oral testimony was given during the public participation process […]