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Local governments calling for more authority to regulate pesticides in Illinois

pressreleaseTwo local governments in Illinois last week passed resolutions to shift jurisdiction over the regulation of private pesticide use from the State to local authorities. The Village of Oak Park and the City of Evanston passed the resolutions in hopes that the Illinois General Assembly will reconsider a law that prohibits local authorities from regulating community-wide pesticide use.

“Our own community should be able to manage the health and welfare of our own citizens,” said Leslie Shad, Vice President of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, a citizen action group that introduced the resolution to the City of Evanston. “It should be possible for the community to make some decision for itself on the use of pesticides.”

A 1983 amendment to the Illinois Pesticide Act of 1979 granted the State power and control over all regulations pertaining to the registration, purchase, use, storage, and disposal of pesticides. However, many local authorities believe that they can better handle these powers for their constituencies than the State.

“Our municipal policymakers, park districts, and school districts receive information and feedback from their residents much quicker than the State does,” said Ruth Kerzee, Executive Director of the environmental non-profit Midwest Pesticide Action Center. “All we ask is for local authorities to have the ability to respond to these concerns more quickly and effectively. Given the right information local governments can enact responsible pesticide regulations to fulfill the needs of tax payers by being cost-effective and safe for our children, pets, and wildlife.”

Concerns include the potential risks these chemicals pose to our children, pets, and pollinators. “A variety of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, have been shown to negatively affect pollinator populations, like bees and monarch butterflies and have negative impact on human health,” said Jen Walling, the executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “Local home rule governments are best equipped to solve local problems by adopting pesticide restrictions on public and private land withintheir jurisdiction as they see fit.”

By amending the preemption clause in the Illinois Pesticide Act, Illinois towns, villages, and cities can potentially reduce these risks. Alderman Raymond Lopez of Chicago’s 15th Ward introduced an ordinance to the City Council’s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection last December to ban all private and public neonicotinoid use with the exception of veterinarians, agricultural farmers, and Illinois certified applicators.   Chicago can ban neonicotinoid use under the Illinois Pesticide Act, because its population exceeds two million, but Illinois communities smaller than two million cannot.

“Big corporations are calling more and more of the shots,” said Peggy McGrath of Go Green Oak Park. “To protect our government “For the People”, we need grassroots involvement, encouraging and supporting our congressional representatives to do the right thing for our children and our one sacred Earth.”

McGrath and Go Green Oak Park drafted the resolution for Oak Park and provided templates of the resolution to other villages, cities, and towns, including Evanston, to send the General Assembly a strong message to amend the Illinois Pesticide Act’s preemption clause and allow home rule for pesticide regulation.

To share this resolution in your community visit bit.ly/PEres. Go Green Oak Park and the Midwest Pesticide Action Center (MPAC) would also like to invite interested parties to the One Earth Film Festival screening of “Toxic Chemicals: Kids in Danger” at the Oak Park Public Library on Saturday, March 11, 3-5 pm to learn about the dangers pesticides present to our children. Illinois State Senator Don Harmon and University of Wisconsin Zoology and Environmental Toxicology professor Dr. Warren Porter will lead a post-film question & answer session. For further information on safer alternatives to synthetic pesticides visit the Midwest Pesticide Action Center’s website or its Midwest Grows Green initiative.

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