Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Sometimes, and I only mean sometimes - when I'm feeling particularly generous - I feel sorry for the EPA. At least, as sorry as you can feel for a massive government bureaucracy. The EPA is constantly being attacked on all sides — by environmentalists who don't think the agency is doing enough, and by chemical manufacturers who think there is too much government intrusion into their work and products. And I think most of us can relate to the feeling of being pulled in two directions at once. Anyway, here are a couple recent news articles concerning the EPA and the use of pesticides that could impact how lawn care operators do business.

EPA facing new lawsuits over pesticide use
EUGENE, Ore. – The Environmental Protection Agency is facing an onslaught of lawsuits from both the pesticide industry and environmental activists, over a new rule on pesticide use in or near water. Lawsuits have been filed in 11 of the nation's 13 circuit courts, including the 9th Circuit, which serves Oregon. Environmentalists say the EPA has knowingly violated a court decision in an Oregon case that would have meant fewer pesticides flowing into Oregon rivers. Pesticide manufacturers counter the new rule doesn't do enough to protect them from unnecessary and costly government regulation.
Read the complete story from the Seattle Times here.

EPA asked to crack down on natural pesticides
Currently, the EPA does not regulate "minimum-risk" pesticides produced from natural products such as peppermint oil, licorice, garlic, lemon grass and thyme that are "generally recognized as safe." As long as labels do not make a specific health claim or list a specific disease that a targeted bug or other pest may carry, the EPA doesn't require marketers to prove that the substances work. The Consumer Specialty Products Association, whose members include manufacturers of conventional chemical pesticides, sent the EPA a petition in March arguing that a product that claims to kill or repel a pest known to carry a disease is making a health claim, even if its label does not specifically refer to the disease.
Read the complete story from the Palm Beach Post here.

Oregon's pesticide reporting system takes root
In the first week of the state's new program to collect pesticide-use information, almost 20 people filed reports. The Pesticide Use Reporting System, established in 1999 but funded for the first time in 2005, aims to provide information about what pesticides are being used in Oregon, in what quantities, and generally where they are being applied. The state estimated that the system will track about 8 million reports of pesticide applications per year from 123,000 pesticide users across the state. "Having access to information about environmental hazards, in this case where pesticides are applied, we are hoping we might see use patterns to help us inform our health surveillance," said Lori Barck of the environmental and occupational epidemiology program at Oregon's Public Health Division.
Read the complete story from the Statesman Journal here.

— Mike Seuffert

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