PRESS RELEASE: New Regulations Allowing Pesticide Use Threaten Alaskan Families, Salmon, and Drinking Water
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 8, 2013

CONTACT: Pamela Miller, AlaskaCommunity Action on Toxics, (907) 222-7714; or Bob Shavelson, CookInletkeeper, (907) 299-3277.

New Toxic Pesticide Rules Threaten Alaskan Families, Salmon, Drinking Water

Parnell Administration’s Continuing Assault on Democracy

Anchorage, AK – Yesterday, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued final regulations that eliminate the right of Alaskans to participate in decisions about the spraying of pesticides and herbicides on public lands. The regulations will allow the application of pesticides without allowing citizens to provide information and participate in decisions protect our drinking water sources and salmon streams.

The Parnell Administration adopted these regulations despite widespread public opposition.

“The pesticide regulations weaken democratic participation in decisions that affect water quality, fish habitat, and public health. Alaskans have a right-to-know and right to participate in decisions aboutpesticide spraying on our public lands,” stated Pamela Miller, Executive Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “Our organizations and the public have interests at stake that are comprehensively grounded in the Constitution of the State of Alaska and those interests cannot be taken away, without due process: notice and an opportunity to be heard.”

Alaskans collectively own our public water, fish and lands resources, and citizens have a right to know if roadside right of ways or places they recreate have been sprayed with toxic chemicals. The new rules are a giant step backwards in Alaska’s approach to environmental and human health protection.

“I want to know whether the places my kids play have been sprayed with toxic chemicals,” said Miranda Weiss, an Alaskan mother of two young children.

The new rules also increase the risks to wild, Alaskan salmon.

“We market Alaskan salmon to the world by promoting our clean waters and healthy habitat,” said Cook Inletkeeper Bob Shavelson. “Now we’ll need a footnote on our marketing brochures to say our fish may contain toxic chemicals.”

The regulations issued yesterday by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation would:

  • Eliminate permit requirements for spraying pesticides by state agencies on state public lands and rights-of-ways. This, among other things, means there would be no requirement to identify water bodies, water courses, private drinking water sources, or to establish buffers necessary to safeguard the state’s water resources, sensitive waterways, drinking water sources, fish and wildlife habitat, or public health;
  • Prevent public participation in decisions about pesticide spraying on public lands and rights-of-way—with no public hearings, opportunity for written public comments, or way to appeal bad decisions. This would deprive Alaskans of our rights to protect our drinking water, fishing streams, public lands, subsistence uses, and dangers to our children and public health;
  • Promote the application of harmful pesticides and herbicides without consideration of toxicity and effects to human health and the environment;
  • Weaken public right-to-know requirements to notify the public about places where the pesticides and herbicides will be sprayed.

Alaska Community Action on Toxics(ACAT) is a statewide non-profit public interest environmental health research and advocacy organization dedicated to protecting environmental health and achieving environmental justice. Alaska Community Action on Toxics mission: to assure justice by advocating for environmental and community health. We believe that everyone has a right to clean air, clean water and toxic-free food. We work to stop the production, proliferation, and release of toxic chemicals that may harm human health or the environment. www.akaction.org

Cook Inletkeeper is a community-based nonprofit organization formed by Alaskans in 1995 to protect water quality and salmon habitat. Inletkeeper combines science, advocacy and education to give Alaskans the tools they need to press for more sustainable uses of our magnificent natural resources. www.inletkeeper.org

###

Press Release