[env-trinity] Trinity Journal: S.A.F.E. joins lawsuit challenging pesticide spraying plan

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Wed Jan 28 16:18:37 PST 2015

Trinity Journal

S.A.F.E. joins lawsuit challenging pesticide spraying plan 
Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 5:15 am  Eleven groups and 
the city of Berkeley, including Trinity County-based Safe Alternatives 
for our Forest Environment, sued the California Department of Food and 
Agriculture last week over the agency’s approval of a statewide “pest 
management” plan that allows pesticide spraying on schools, organic 
farms and residential yards, including aerial spraying over homes in 
rural areas. California approved the program despite tens of thousands 
of public comment letters calling for a less toxic approach that would 
protect the vitality and resilience of the state’s food system and the 
economic interests of organic farmers.  The approved 
program allows the state to use, without any additional environmental 
review, 79 pesticides that cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive 
harm and are also highly toxic to bees, butterflies, fish and birds. 
Pesticides used in the program include chlorpyrifos, which is banned in 
Europe and a recent U.S. EPA study found poses hazards to workers and 
drinking water; the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, which is highly toxic to bees; the deadly, ozone-depleting fumigant methyl bromide, which is 
being phased out because of an international treaty; and chloropicrin, 
which causes genetic damage. The California Department of Pesticide 
Regulation last week announced strict new standards for chloropicrin 
because of the threat is poses to public health. 
“This program puts people and 
some of California’s most imperiled species, like salmon and tiger 
salamanders, directly in harm’s way from dangerous pesticides,” said 
Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the 
Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s frightening that the state would 
spray these toxic chemicals throughout California without fully 
analyzing their effects or telling the public of the consequences.”
The plan, approved Dec. 24 as 
part of the Statewide Plant Pest Prevention and Management Environmental Impact Report, allows these dangerous chemicals to be used anywhere in 
the state, any time into the indefinite future, without an option for 
affected communities to stop the spray. The state can also approve new 
pesticide treatments and treatment sites behind closed doors without 
public scrutiny or notice.
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda 
Superior Court, outlines numerous ways the spray plan violates state 
environmental laws, including failure to notify the public of future 
pesticide spraying and failure to analyze the impacts of the pesticides 
on human and environmental health, including harm to infants and 
contamination of drinking water.
“Municipal drinking water sources that are already contaminated with pesticides would be further degraded by this pesticide program. How can the department realistically claim 
that pesticides sprayed under this program will never reach any of those bodies of water?” said attorney Jason Flanders of ATA Law Group.
The suit was brought by Center 
for Biological Diversity, Environmental Working Group, California 
Environmental Health Initiative, MOMS Advocating Sustainability, Center 
for Food Safety, city of Berkeley, Pesticide Action Network North 
America, Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Beyond Pesticides, Californians for Pesticide Reform, 
and Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment. The plaintiffs are 
represented by Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, along with ATA 
Law Group.
Safe Alternatives for our Forest 
Environment was organized in 1979 in response to massive pesticide 
spraying on public and private timberlands in Trinity County. S.A.F.E. 
was formed to promote alternatives to pesticide spraying. S.A.F.E. is 
involved in advocating and informing the public about environmentally 
sound forest management. S.A.F.E. is a member of the Trinity 
Collaborative effort. Find it online at http://safealt.org/.
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