Letter: Pesticide regulations weakened

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has drastically changed its pesticide/herbicide regulations. Effective March 7, rules essential to protecting human health and the environment are eliminated. State agencies no longer have to identify water bodies and private drinking water sources prior to spraying. Identification is necessary before such sensitive areas can be protected, normally through establishing no-spray buffers. Human health and the health of our fisheries and other subsistence uses are now at serious risk.

These are important public and environmental health concerns. The lands in question are state lands and rights of way owned by the public. The public has a legitimate interest in its lands and has a fundamental right to meaningfully participate in the decisions about how its lands are used. The pesticide permit process, which has now been eliminated, provided the public with an opportunity for such meaningful participation. Now, with these new regulations, the public is entirely cut out of the process.

If you are concerned, please contact your legislator in Juneau.

— John Strasenburgh