February 2020


  BIG WIN: Pesticide Toxic Air Contaminants will now be included in state's air emissions reduction planning

Corteva (Dow) quits making chlorpyrifos in the US

In appreciation: CPR members Ron Whitehurst and Jan Dietrick

It's official: Pesticides will be included in state air emission reduction plans
Small town of Shafter takes on the state and wins a huge victory for all Californians

Shafter is surrounded by intensively-treated agricultural fields 
Credit: Trackingcalifornia.org

The small but mighty Kern County town of Shafter (pop. 16,988) is savoring a hard-fought victory this week after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) agreed that pesticides would be included in plans to reduce air emissions in the highly impacted community. 

Selected by CARB for a community emissions reduction plan in the first year of implementation of the groundbreaking piece of legislation AB 617 (C. Garcia), Shafter has blazed a trail for all agricultural communities across the state that share the town's pesticide pollution burden.

With an astonishing 3 million pounds of pesticides used each year within a seven mile radius of Shafter, it came as no surprise that residents put pesticides at the top of the list of pollutants of greatest concern to them - especially those that are classified by the state as Toxic Air Contaminants (TACs).

But pesticides occupy a special carve-out within the Toxic Air Contaminant program, regulated by the Department of Pesticide Regulation in their pesticidal use and - until now - essentially unregulated once they leave the fields as air pollutants. 

That's where Shafter residents stepped in, to demand relief from the regulatory vacuum in which they found themselves. Over the course of the past year, the members of the Shafter AB 617 Steering Committee participated in more than 50 meetings with the Air District and other regulators, met individually with each of the CARB board members, and wrote half a dozen letters arguing for the inclusion of pesticides in their plan.

At a special CARB board meeting held on February 13 in Shafter, CARB agreed with them, passing a resolution affirming that pesticide Toxic Air Contaminants "can be regulated as a TAC and as smog-forming compounds as they become waste gases outside of their pesticidal use;" acknowledging the "overlapping authorities between pesticide and air regulators"; and committing the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to implement a pilot in Shafter to reduce emissions of the carcinogenic pesticide TAC 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D, or Telone) by the equivalent of covering applications with a tarp, an emissions reduction of 60%. 

Shafter also won an extension of DPR's existing pesticide air monitoring, which was set to expire, and a pilot notification program to be developed by DPR, the Kern County Agricultural Commissioner, and the Shafter AB 617 Steering Committee.

Now that Shafter has established this critically important precedent - yes, pesticides do in fact fall within the purview of AB 617 community emissions reduction planning - agricultural communities selected for the program in the years to come can confidently expect their own pesticide pollution burden to be acknowledged, planned for, and mitigated. 

To the residents of Shafter and especially to the members of the Shafter AB 617 Steering Committee with special support from organizers Byanka Santoyo and Gustavo Aguirre Jr, we say BRAVO and extend to you our deep debt of gratitude. The results of your hard work will reverberate across the state for years to come.

Corteva (Dow) ends US production of brain-harming chlorpyrifos
International sales also in peril after EU bans import of produce with chlorpyrifos residues

Credit: Ali Mohammed for Californians for Pesticide Reform

Fresh off California's landmark cancellation of the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos, Corteva (formerly Dow) announced the end of US production  of the chemical. The announcement by Corteva, the largest manufacturer of the pesticide, came on February 6, the same day as sales ended in California. All use will end in the state on December 31. 

With roughly a million pounds of chlorpyrifos used each year, California was the biggest US market for the chemical, and there's no doubt that our state's action was a significant factor in Corteva's decision. 

California's ban came after a years-long campaign by CPR and our allies to rid agriculture of one of the most devastating and harmful chemicals still used on food crops. 

With the status of chlorpyrifos in limbo at the federal level after the Trump Administration reversed a proposed national ban in 2017, individual states have been forced to take action. Among these are Hawaii and New York, where bans are pending, and Oregon and Washington whose legislatures are weighing the chemical's fate. Sales were banned in the EU in January.

If Corteva was pinning its hopes for the pesticide's continuing profitability on international sales, the EU dashed that dream last week when it also banned imports of produce with chlorpyrifos residues. Let's hope time is running out for at least one highly hazardous chemical.

In Appreciation: VC CAPS members Ron Whitehurst and Jan Dietrick
Pioneers in ecological pest control methods host CPR organizers at their home-based  insectary

Credit: Californians for Pesticide Reform

This month, CPR's cohort of organizers took a few days to gather, swap notes and make plans for the coming year. We were hosted in Ventura by Ron Whitehurst and Jan Dietrick at their home-based business Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, where they produce and distribute insects and other organisms for the biological control of pests. Ron and Jan are pioneers in the use of natural enemies in ecologically-based pest management.

They are also active members of our local coalition Ventura County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety, and were the most gracious hosts for our organizing retreat. We are extremely fortunate to benefit from their decades of expertise in non-chemical alternatives, and were privileged to visit them in their unique home. Thank you Ron and Jan!

Back row: Héktor Calderón (Monterey Bay), Jesus Mendoza (Fresno), Sarait Martinez (Organizing Director, Monterey Bay), Ron Whitehurst
Front row: Adam Vega (Ventura), Jan Dietrick, Byanka Santoyo (Kern), Angel Garcia (Tulare).