One month ago, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approved an application by the BLSG Insect Control District to continue controlling mosquitoes for another five years. Yesterday, that decision was appealed by Toxics Action Center, an environmental advocacy group working throughout New England. The lawsuit alleges that the Vermont DEC allows BLSG to spray pesticides without following state requirements designed to protect public health and the environment. Toxics Action Center initiated this legal action on behalf of its members in the region. “It’s irresponsible to allow toxic pesticides to be sprayed near homes, rivers, and farms while safer options are available,” said Woody Little, Vermont Community Organizer at Toxics Action Center. “Before we endanger the health of the community, we should be trying every non-harmful alternative possible. It’s the law, and it’s just common sense.”
Toxics Action Center will be represented in front of the Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court by the Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School. “The spraying authorized by the DEC violates state and federal laws designed to protect human health, water quality and endangered species,” said Mason Overstreet, an attorney and fellow at the Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic. “The law requires the District to use non-harmful alternatives whenever practical. Chemical pesticides should only be used as a last resort.”
Under the federal Clean Water Act and state law, insect control districts must comply with Vermont’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Pesticide General Permit for application of pesticides. An entity applying for a permit to spray pesticides is required to minimize the discharge of chemical pesticides and consider the impacts on water, insects, and animals before using chemical pesticides. The pending lawsuit addresses whether gaps in BLSG’s application suggest that BLSG could avoid these requirements without consequences. You can read today’s press release from Toxics Action Center here.
Details of the legal complaint will be submitted to the court in about three weeks. Operations of the BLSG to control mosquitoes will likely continue while the appeal proceeds. You can stay up-to-date with their spraying activities and other news on Twitter and Facebook (see sidebar).