From Capitol Press: States Weigh in on EPA’s No-spray Buffers

03/20/2010 -

The directors of Washington and Oregon state agriculture departments have made it very clear to the EPA that the agency has not been diligent about following the dictates of the Endangered Species Act where it concerns impact to the agricultural industry.

In letters dated November 12, 2009 and March 1, 2010, respectively, Dan Newhouse of the State of Washington Department of Agriculture and Katy Coba of the Oregon Department of Agriculture strongly questioned both the NMFS’ definition of salmon waters and the EPA’s plan to mandate product labeling changes for buffer zones and no-spray buffers for chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon.

Newhouse’s letter to Gary Locke of the U.S. Department of Commerce not only challenges the NMFS’s approach to evaluating the impact of these pesticides on salmon populations but also invokes regulations under Section 7 of the ESA. Section 7 dictates that “reasonable and prudent alternatives” (RPAs) to pesticide use must be provided and must also take into consideration the economic impact of those alternatives. Newhouse asks, “Given the broad definition of habitat and likely prohibition of use, did NMFS consider the cost associated with changing pest management strategies?”

Coba’s letter voices similar concerns: “While Oregon is committed to ensuring that the use of pesticides are managed to limit the risks to listed fish and aquatic health, we are concerned that the proposed approach places undue burden on the forestry and agricultural communities and as proposed is not workable on the ground.”

Read the full text of Newhouse’s and Coba’s letters.

Read the Capitol Press article, summarizing their concerns.

Visit our Endangered Species Act page to learn more about the history of the issue and its legal implications.

Related: No-spray buffers » buffer zones » spray zones » agricultural stakeholders » ESA » Endangered Species Act » proposed restrictions

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