House Fisheries Committee Holds Hearing on Bill
to Protect Salmon Streams and Water Sources from Toxic Pesticides
House Bill 201 Establishes Buffer Zones and Restores Public Participation
Juneau, AK – The House Special Committee on Fisheries will hold a hearing on Thursday February 13 at 10 am concerning a bill designed to protect salmon streams and drinking water sources from toxic pesticides by establishing buffer zones. This bill, (HB 201) sponsored by Representative Les Gara, is receiving support from local governments, fishermen, scientists, and parents. HB 201 would establish important buffer zones to prevent the application of herbicides and pesticides within 150 feet of salmon streams and 600 feet of drinking water sources. HB 201 would also restore requirements for public notification and opportunities for public participation in the pesticide permitting process.
House Bill 201 is “An Act relating to the application of non-aerial pesticides and broadcast chemicals near fish habitat or water for human consumption, and in public places.” Representative Gara stated, “If Alaskans’ drinking water, children or fishing streams are at risk, Alaskans should have a say.”
Last year, the Parnell Administration issued regulations that eliminated the right of Alaskans to participate in decisions about the spraying of toxic pesticides and herbicides on public lands. The Administration’s regulation changes issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) eliminated requirements to identify and safeguard the state’s waters including salmon streams, sensitive waterways, drinking water sources, fish and wildlife habitat, and public health.
“I am responding to the concerns of Alaskans about the need to protect salmon and their habitat from harmful chemicals. I also hear deep concerns about the potential for contamination of our drinking water sources as a critical public health issue,” stated Representative Les Gara. “This bill offers protection of these vital resources and re-establishes right-to-know provisions and public involvement in decisions about pesticide use in public places.”
“We’re grateful that Rep. Gara is listening to the concerns of Alaskans. I want to prevent harm to our salmon streams and drinking water sources for our health and well-being and the health of our children,” stated Dr. Birgit Lenger, a new mother and Anchorage physician.
HB 201 will be heard by the House Special Committee on Fisheries on Thursday February 13 at 10 am. Pamela Miller, Biologist and Executive Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, will testify in support of the bill. Miller stated: “The science supports that buffer zones are effective ways to protect our salmon and ensure safe drinking water. This bill also restores the right of Alaskans to participate in decisions that affect our health. We cannot have the right to participate in our democracy taken away.”
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. For more information, please call 907-222-7714. www.akaction.org | Facebook | Twitter @ak_action
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