At the federal level
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator released an action plan to guide the Obama administration’s historic efforts to restore the Great Lakes. The action plan, which the administrator unveiled at a February 21, 2010, meeting with governors from the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, lays out the most urgent threats facing the Great Lakes and sets out goals, objectives, and key actions over the next five years to help restore the lakes. Two of the main focuses that our industry must monitor are protection of high-priority watersheds and reduction runoff from urban and suburban sources.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality recently released draft guidance that directs federal agencies to consider greenhouse gas emissions and climate change effects when carrying out National Environmental Policy Act reviews. One side note is that the EPA has expressed concern about Lyme disease increasing because of climate change that favors the spread of tick populations. All individuals that work outside and that can be exposed to ticks need to know about Lyme disease.
At the State Level
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is creating a new organic lawn and landscape program called “Be Green” with input from the green industry, including from PLANET. The program will require special training by approved individuals for anyone who works for a company that wants to offer organic lawn care service to consumers. It will be interesting to see how many companies will want the ability to provide this service and will use the state’s logo for the program. Currently, there appears to be insufficient funds for the state to promote the program. The NYSDEC hopes to have the program ready for this season, but much work is needed and final decisions still have to be made.
Virginia, Iowa, Maryland and Washington
Fertilizer Legislation continues to be the main subject of discussion in the legislative bodies of several states: Virginia, Iowa, Maryland and Washington have the most activity. In Virginia and Iowa, the focus is on addressing fertilizer application to pavements and imperious surfaces. To be better stewards, when applying fertilizer, we need to ensure the product is only applied to the lawn and landscape.
A cosmetic pesticide legislative hearing on House Bill 1456 took place in the New Hampshire legislature on February 11, 2010. This bill was a study bill, but those present and participating were very concerned it could lead to another bill being introduced and that bill possibly passing. This could be the first domino state, so everyone should be concerned. We will be tracking it, and plans to oppose its passage will be discussed. In Albany, N.Y., on February 8, the first of several pesticide roundtable meetings were held with all factions in attendance. The New York State Senate wants to pass two pesticide bills this year, and those bills will definitely have an effect on the lawn care and landscape industry.
In California, there is discussion about a new surface water protection regulation that will affect lawn care, as well as agriculture. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is looking to formulate legislation to control more than 70 different pesticides that will supersede the federal label. This will determine buffer zones, and proposes a 72-hour hold to prevent runoff. It is presumed that if an applicator thinks it may rain, then he or she should not apply pesticide until no rain is predicted for 72 hours so as to avoid possible runoff. At this point, we do not know the products this regulation will cover and can only assume that fertilizers might be included. Discussions with stakeholders may be concluded by June 2010. A formal rule-making package could then be drafted, and notice posted before the end of the year.
Article provided by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). For more information, visit www.landcarenetwork.org