BPC Addresses Gap Between Resources and Responsibilities
In areas of environmental protection and pesticide reduction, a gap is growing between statutory mandates and available resources to do the job. That was the focus of a Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) planning session on February 5, 1999, and a follow-up discussion at the March 5, 1999, Board meeting. The session began with a litany of “regular duties backlogged or not getting done,” because the BPC currently has no receptionist, no mail person, has lost two planner positions, is not allowed to hire temporary clerical help, and had its clerk typist position downgraded. Regular duties suffering as a consequence include license renewals, licensing enforcement, pesticide sales report follow-up and data entry, general accounting, and compliance case review. The Board discussed ways to get better support and cooperation of the Department of Agriculture, which administers the BPC, in its effort to get adequate staffing.
Failing better support, the Board considered possible strategies to “re-establish the Board’s independence (budget & policy)” from the Department. Recently, director Bob Batteese met with the Agriculture Committee of the Legislature to plea for two planner positions to work on pesticide reduction and pesticides sales analysis. He received pledges of support from both John Nutting and Marge Kilkelly, but the appropriation will not be determined until the end of the session.
The Board then turned to longstanding and more recent environmental mandates that aren’t being accomplished. A 1983 law requires the BPC to perform environmental risk assessments on registered pesticides. The Board has never done this, and has no staff or procedures to accomplish it. This issue is likely to be highlighted in upcoming discussions and negotiations over potential listing of Atlantic Salmon under the Endangered Species Act. The Board discussed the possibility of forming a committee of Board members and other experts acting on a volunteer basis, similar to the Medical Advisory Committee, to at least “be prepared for emergencies.” No immediate steps were taken in this regard, however.
Next the Board turned to its responsibilities under the 1997 Act to Minimize Reliance on Pesticides, which directs all “agencies of the State involved in the regulation or use of pesticides [to] promote the principles and the implementation of integrated pest management. … to minimize reliance on pesticides …” and mandates that the BPC implement a system of reporting and recordkeeping to track trends in pesticide use in the state. The BPC discussed the possibility of working with the Department of Agriculture’s newly appointed IPM specialist, entomologist Kathleen Murray, on some initiatives toward pesticide reduction. Possibilities they discussed included developing an IPM certification program, developing a policy to require IPM in public buildings, and programs to teach IPM in schools. Some of these initiatives, particularly related to pesticide use in schools, may proceed through the Board’s new Indoor Pesticide Use Advisory Committee.
With respect to pesticides sales reporting, the possibilities of producing meaningful, comprehensive data in the near future seem remote, giving staffing reductions (see MOF&G, Dec.-Feb. 1999). The Board discussed the possibility of focusing on quantification and trend tracking of pesticide use in certain crop sectors of agriculture, or a focus on a select group of active ingredients of concern. A subcommittee consisting of Board members Saffeir, Lewis and Storch was appointed to address how a more limited database could fulfill some of the goals of the 1977 Act.
– Sharon Tisher