Montgomery County MD Set to Defend Landmark Lawn Pesticide Ordinance in State of Maryland Appeals Court, September 11th, 2018


Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin T. 202 360-7166


Montgomery County, Maryland, Sept 5, 2018 –

The battle for the right of Maryland counties and local jurisdictions to protect residents’ health and the environment from exposure to potentially harmful lawn pesticides is heading to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland (Annapolis) on September 11th. Oral arguments are scheduled for 9:30am in Courtroom 1in the case of Montgomery County, Maryland vs. Complete Lawn Care, Inc. et al.

In June, the Maryland Municipal League (MML), the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), and ten organizations filed Amicus briefs supporting the 2015 landmark pesticide ordinance passed by Montgomery County, Maryland restricting the cosmetic application of toxic lawn pesticides onpublicandprivatelandwithinitsjurisdiction.Thelaw,intendedto protect especially children, pets, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards of lawn and landscape pesticide use, is on appeal from a Circuit Court ruling in August 2017 which struck down aspects of the ordinance that apply to private property. The Montgomery County Council decided to appeal the Circuit Court ruling based on an outpouring of public support, and the advice of its legal team that the County has a reasonable chance of prevailing.

MML and MACo filed a joint Amicus brief. MML represents 157 municipal governments in Maryland. MACo serves Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City, and states that the circuit court’s opinion, “if not reversed, will significantly and negatively impact the ability of MACo’s members to address issues impacting their resident’s health and welfare.”

The plaintiffs in the case, which include the pesticide industry group Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment(RISE), local chemical lawn care companies, a few individuals, & an Amicus brief from Farm Bureau allege that the local ordinance is preempted by state law, despite the fact that Maryland is one of seven states that has not explicitly taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state.

The law at issue, Bill 52-14 (the Healthy Lawns Act), which restricts the cosmetic lawn care use of toxicpesticidesonpublicandprivateland,protectsoveronemillionpeople,thelargestnumber to be covered by any local jurisdiction to date. Passing the Montgomery County MD Council by a veto-proof majority 6-3, the law allows time for transition, training, and a public education program over several years. In limiting the pesticides allowed to be used for turf management, the law defined acceptable materials as those permitted for use in organic production or identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “minimum risk pesticides” under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Section25(b).

The additional organizations filing Amicus include:  Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, Central Maryland Beekeepers Association, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Food and Water Watch, Maryland Pesticide Education Network, US PIRG, Maryland PIRG Foundation, Organic Consumers Association, and Safe Grow Montgomery.

“It is not just a longstanding right, but a responsibility, of counties in the state to exercise their powers to the fullest to protect the health and wellbeing of their citizens. This lawsuit unfortunately seeks to strip Montgomery, and other counties in the state, of their critical role in the protection of public health,” said Chris Nidel, partner at Nidel & Nace, PLLC, which represents the group amici.

“Just as the County championed the right to avoid exposure to harmful second-hand smoke, the County has taken steps to protect the public from repeated cumulative exposure to harmful lawn pesticides by curtailing their routine widespread use. The MontgomeryCounty

Council heard from thousands of county residents, businesses, and organizations in strong support of the lawn pesticide restrictions. The Council also held several hearings to consider evidence of unavoidable exposure, evidence of health and environmental harm, and the inadequacies of state and federal pesticide regulations. This lawsuit is a serious threat to local democracy in Maryland,” said Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin, Safe Grow Montgomery.

To confirm the court schedule, contact the Clerk’s Office at 410-260-1450.



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