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For Immediate Release:
February 22, 2008 Contact: Bill Maxfield Phone: (831) 596-0910

SACRAMENTO Assemblymembers John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley/Oakland), Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today introduced a 4-bill legislative package to address the eradication effort for the Light Brown Apple Moth and other invasive species.  In addition, Assemblymember Laird released draft language for a joint resolution to be introduced next week. 

Bill descriptions and comments from Assemblymembers:

AB 2763 would enact the Invasive Pest Planning Act of 2008, by Assemblymember John Laird.  The bill would require the Department of Food and Agriculture to create a list of invasive animals, plants, and insects that have a reasonable likelihood of entering California for which an eradication program might be appropriate.  For each invasive on the list, the department would prepare a written assessment on the most appropriate method of eradication.  If pesticides were to be used, the assessment would have to discuss application methods, the chemistry of the pesticide and its inert ingredients, impacts on public health and the environment.  The department would have to coordinate with the State Department of Public Health, the Department of Fish and Game, and other state health agencies.  The department would have to hold public hearings. If a pest was found, the department would have to notify various local agencies, hold public hearings, and comply with other requirements.

“The state was not adequately prepared for the Light Brown Apple Moth,” said Assemblymember Laird.  “This won’t be our last experience with an invasive pest.  But in light of climate change, international travel patterns and chronically underfunded federal inspection programs, we ought to put in place a pest planning process that prevents the kind of public fear and confusion we’ve experienced to date with the Light Brown Apple Moth.” 

AB 2764, by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, will prohibit the Secretary of Food and Agriculture from approving the application of a pesticide in an urban area, unless the Governor has proclaimed a state of emergency.  Current law allows the Secretary of Food and Agriculture, to proclaim any area in the state an eradication area with respect to a pest, prescribe the boundaries of the area, and name the pest or host of pests that are known to exist within the area, together with the means and methods that are to be used to eradicate or control the pest.  Assemblymember Hancock’s legislation will increase the level of responsibility the administration has to take and will provide more transparency.  In addition, the Governor will be able to solicit input from all of his state agencies including Department of Health and relevant environmental agencies.

“We are trying to bring some transparency to a process that seems to favor economic interest over public health.  The fact that the Department is now doing an EIR that won't be complete until sometime after the spraying has commenced brings into question the openness of this process. We believe that there are significant questions that remain unanswered and we are trying to get answers for our constituents before the spraying occurs,” said Assemblywoman Loni Hancock.

AB 2765, by Assemblymember Huffman, sets new limits on the emergency powers of the Department of Agriculture.  It requires a public hearing to receive testimony and examine alternatives to aerial spraying prior to any decision to spray.  It further bars emergency spraying in an urban area unless there is full disclosure of all elements in any pesticide product, and a certification of the safety of the product by state health officials.  

"I want to make sure that people in communities affected by a proposed eradication strategy for LBAM or any other pest have better information and a meaningful opportunity to engage in the process before decisions about aerial spraying are made,” said Assemblymember Huffman.  “At a minimum, we need an open and transparent public process, full disclosure of spray ingredients, and safety assurances based on sound science." 

AB 2760, by Assemblyman Leno would require that an Environmental Impact Report be completed before the state Department of Food and Agriculture can apply pesticide in an urban area for the eradication of the light brown apple moth.

"We cannot even begin a discussion about the current plans of eradicating the light brown apple moth before we understand the impacts of the chemicals the state is proposing to spray in urban areas," stated Assemblyman Mark Leno. "My measure will require that before any spraying can begin, the state must complete an Environmental Impact Report that will tell us what impacts the specific mix of pheromone and other chemicals will have on our children, families and communities.  The report will arm us with the information we need to help the state and communities make an informed decision.  Too much is at stake to enter into the discussion without all of the facts,"; Leno said.

Draft Assembly Joint Resolution by Assemblymember Laird

The following is the draft concluding language for an Assembly joint resolution to be introduced next week focused on CDFA's response with regard to conducting its LBAM eradication effort:

"Resolved, it is the responsibility of the government to demonstrate that its actions are necessary, appropriate, and do not compromise health or the environment.  It is not the responsibility of citizens to demonstrate the reverse.

Resolved, the various state departments and agencies involved in the LBAM eradication effort need to address the unresolved health, scientific, and efficacy issues concerning the 2007 eradication effort. 

Resolved, that these departments and agencies need to take the steps necessary to ensure, in any future actions, that human health and environmental impact issues are appropriately evaluated and addressed. a


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