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MoCo Council Passes Pesticide Ban Bill With 6-3 Vote

The Montgomery County Council has approved, what Councilmember Roger Berliner called the “strongest anti-pesticide measure of any major jurisdiction in the United States.”

At Tuesday’s Council meeting, the Council passed Bill 52-14 by a six to three vote. The legislation bans the use of EPA-registered pesticides in lawn care for most uses in the county including public and private playgrounds, mulched recreation areas, child care centers, and county property.

Council President George Leventhal was the bill’s chief sponsor. Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer were co-sponsors. Councilmembers Craig Rice, Sidney Katz, and Roger Berliner voted against the bill.

Councilmembers Leventhal, Elrich, Floreen, and Riemer were all elected as At-Large members of the Council.

The approved amended Bill that bans the use of pesticides on County-owned and private lawns, becoming one of the few jurisdictions in the nation to have such restrictions. One of the amendments to the original bill will allow the County’s Department of Parks to continue to use pesticides on playing fields as part of an integrated pest management program and requires the department to develop a plan that would lead to maintaining fields without pesticide use by 2020. The department will conduct a pilot program in the interim period to study the impact of maintaining fields without using pesticides.

The County Council held public hearings on the bill were on Jan. 15 and Feb. 12, with more than 300 attendees at each. More than 300 people attended yesterday’s Council session.

The enacted bill provides for a phasing of effective dates, with provisions related to County-owned property and County parks taking effect July 1, 2016. Yesterday, on a motion by Council Vice President Floreen, the bill was amended to have provisions related to private property taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018, rather than the originally proposed Jan. 1, 2017.

In addition to lawns, the bill also restricts the use of certain pesticides on public and private playgrounds, mulched recreation areas and children’s facilities such as child care centers. The bill’s restrictions do not apply to gardens. They do not restrict pesticide use for the control of noxious weeds or invasive species, for human health or agricultural purposes or to prevent significant economic damage.

“Today’s action is another step in the ongoing effort to make Montgomery County the healthiest, safest county in the country,” said Council President Leventhal, who was elected as an At-Large member of the County Council. “Countless studies have linked pesticides to a wide range of health conditions in children and adults and, since the bill was introduced one year ago, I have received hundreds of reports from constituents of children and pets experiencing adverse effects from the application of pesticides.”