Good afternoon, Senator Edgecomb, Representative Hickman and members of the committee. My name is Cathy Johnson. I am a resident of Alna and the North Woods Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I am speaking today on behalf of NRCM’s 16,000 members and supporters in opposition to LD 817.
This bill makes a number of changes regarding aerial spraying. Specifically it removes notification requirements and the requirements for monitors and spotters.
Section 1 of the bill repeals the requirement for general notification of a spray project. The language to be repealed is the general notification provision stating: “Notice shall otherwise be provided, as required by rule or order of the board, when that board determines additional notification procedures to be necessary to reach the affected public.” We are not aware of any justification for taking this power of notification away from the Board of Pesticide Control.
Sections 4, 6, 7, 8,10,12,13, and 14 are the multiple provisions that establish a system of monitors and spotters for aerial spray programs. Under existing law, “Monitors” are people “working on a public or private forest insect aerial spray application project whose primary responsibilities are to observe and record meteorological conditions during spray operations, observe and record spray deposition, prepare the spray period report and who have the authority to cease spray applications when conditions require it.” “Spotters” are people “working on a public or private forest insect aerial spray application project who are responsible for ordering the cessation of spraying over water bodies and other nontarget areas.” Monitors and spotters ensure that spraying happens where it is supposed to, and not on nearby rivers, lakes, homes, backyards and gardens. They are the people who enforce the spraying laws and verify that the rules are being followed.
While the advent of GPS and other technology will undoubtedly make aerial spraying in 2015 more accurate than the aerial spraying that took place in the 1970s and 1980s, no technology in the world can substitute for human beings watching out to make sure that the rules are being followed, and that unexpected changes in weather or human error don’t cause the pesticides to drift into adjacent rivers and lakes, and onto homes, backyards, and gardens. Without any enforcement personnel, it is virtually certain that violations will occur. For every other law and regulation that we have, from traffic regulations to harvesting rules, there are enforcement personnel whose job it is to ensure that the rules are followed. For a program that entails the spraying of poisonous chemicals through the air, it is inconceivable that we would not maintain enforcement staff.
We urge you to vote Ought Not To Pass on LD 817.