Opposing a New Rule that Weakens Pesticide Oversight

Jul 20, 2011

Baykeeper is currently opposing a new proposal by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) that would severely limit environmental oversight of pesticide applications throughout the state.

CDFA, which oversees pesticide use in California, has proposed a "Programmatic Environmental Impact Report" (PEIR) that would evaluate the environmental impacts of CDFA's entire statewide program, rather than evaluating each individual pesticide application on a project-by-project basis. This is a major concern because the circumstances surrounding each pesticide application are very different, such as which waterway it will impact, which pesticide will be used and which species will be impacted. An overall statewide evaluation would eliminate the chance to review the key details of each application, potentially limiting mitigation measures for every future pesticide application overseen by CDFA.

Additionally, CDFA asserts that this statewide review will result in fewer "emergency" declarations that shortcut the standard environmental review – even though the regulatory definition of such an emergency is a "sudden, unexpected occurrence" that could not, by definition, be planned for in a statewide PEIR. CDFA's proposal also undercuts the agency's responsibility to analyze reasonable alternatives that might reduce or avoid harm caused by a proposed pesticide application.

For each of these reasons, the environmental community has expressed deep concern that future environmental review of local projects will be undermined if the PEIR is pursued as planned.

Last week Baykeeper helped lead a conference call with CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, her staff and numerous state and regional environmental organizations to discuss the matter. We will continue to work with Secretary Ross to help ensure that pesticide applications are avoided or minimized whenever feasible and that the public will have a full opportunity to provide feedback whenever new pesticide applications are proposed.

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