Today Maryland’s highest court upheld the right of local governments to restrict the use of toxic lawn care pesticides more stringently than the state. By denying an appeal from the pesticide industry’s challenge to a lower court ruling, the Maryland Court of Appeals has made official Montgomery County’s 2015 Healthy Lawns Act, which prohibits toxic pesticides from being used on public and private property for cosmetic purposes.
“This long-awaited decision affirms local democratic decision making to protect health and the environment, upholding the first U.S. county law to ban toxic pesticides on private and public property,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of the organization Beyond Pesticides. “The law, now in force, will bring critical health protections for pregnant mothers, children and other vulnerable residents in Montgomery County, and safeguard sensitive wildlife species like pollinators.”
The decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals upholds local democratic decision making in the face of a challenge by industry groups representing lawn care companies and chemical manufacturers. The chemical industry has fought for nearly three decades to suppress the right of local governments in the U.S. to protect public health and safety with pesticide law, having successfully lobbied 43 states to preempt their local political subdivisions’ authority. Seven states uphold local authority, including the state of Maryland, which has affirmed in its legislature the rights of localities by rejecting preemption legislation on numerous occasions.
“This is an important win for the local organic land management movement sweeping the country, as local elected officials embrace practices that protect the health of people and the environment,” said Mr. Feldman. “We hope other Maryland countries watching this lawsuit will follow Montgomery County’s lead and implement these important protections for their own residents.”
The Healthy Lawns Act, first passed in 2015, was overturned by a Circuit Court in 2017. In response, the Montgomery County Council voted to appeal the decision. Nine organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, filed an Amicus brief in support of the county law. This led to a ruling earlier this year by the Maryland Special Court of Appeals, overturning the circuit court decision and affirming Montgomery County’s right to implement the law. “We thank local advocates from Safe Grow Montgomery and the Montgomery County Council for standing up to multi-national pesticide companies’ bullying and regulating these toxic chemicals in a way that reflects the values of their residents and the community,” Mr. Feldman said.
Contact: Jay Feldman, 202-255-4296
SOURCE Beyond Pesticides