Two mayors from Maine wrote a blog piece this week in The Hill as part of a nation-wide effort to block a proposed provision in the new Farm Bill. The House and Senate passed different versions of the bill, and members of both houses (and parties) are working together in a conference committee to develop a final version.
Mayors Ethan Strimling and Linda Cohen, along with several dozen other local and state officials who signed on to a letter submitted this month to members of the conference committee, object to a provision contained in Section 9101 of the House version of the bill. This part of the legislation would prohibit any local government or institution from instituting any pesticide regulations that are more restrictive than existing federal laws.
In a press release, activist group Beyond Pesticides calls this “federal preemption of local pesticide policies” a “poison pill” that would “prevent communities from adopting protective laws that meet the needs of their residents or unique local environment.”
–Mayor Ethan Strimling of Portland, Maine and Linda C. Cohen of South Portland, Maine
Mayors Stimling and Cohen point out in their blog that many municipalities “have considered the evidence and opted for higher standards than those set by the federal government.” They cite 155 local ordinances across the country that restrict pesticide use on playgrounds and parks, and refer directly to known health risks from exposure, particularly to children. (They even point to the huge settlement in the Lee Johnson glyphosate cancer case, near and dear to us here at Hygeia).
Officials from 39 communities and 15 states signed the letter to the conference committee members from North Miami to Maui to Mukilteo, Washington.
We have covered local regulation of pesticides extensively here on Hygeia, from insecticide bans in Hawaii to limitations on controversial new dicamba formulations in Arkansas. So, you can trust that we will follow how this committee handles this important decision with big implications.
For more on the Farm Bill, a huge (and hugely important) piece of legislation, see this post for a great explanatory video.
Beyond Pesticides, “Over 60 Local Officials Call on Congress to Protect Local Authority to Restrict Toxic Pesticides in the Farm Bill,” Cision PR Newswire, September 13, 2018.
Ethan Strimling and Linda C. Cohen, “Farm bill hurts ability of communities to protect health, environment of citizens,” The Hill, September 18, 2018.