By Tia Auger
HB 399 is a step in the right direction towards a healthier,
environmentally sound, and sustainable future. While there are many
positive aspects to this bill, it still has room for improvement, and much
stricter regulation would be ideal in the near future. I support this bill as is,
although it could be improved with some revision.
One of the most hope inducing parts of this bill is its sponsor, Jim
McConnell. It is encouraging that a republican representative is supporting
this bill. Pesticide restriction is stereotypically dismissed by conservatives
who believe regulation is unnecessary, and difficult for business. It is
misunderstood that technology alone will solve environmental issues
without any push such as regulation to do so. In their 2016 platform the
republican party stated,
We firmly believe environmental problems are best solved by giving
incentives for human ingenuity and the development of new
technologies, not through top-down, command-and-control regulations
that stifle economic growth and cost thousands of jobs.
Yet, it has often been seen that businesses are capable of quickly
rebounding and updating technologies without job losses or upsetting the
economy, and regulation is the fastest way to induce change. The economy
relies on resources provided by the environment. The economic system of
unlimited growth is simply impossible in a finite world where the actions of
industry cause a positive feedback loop where mass amounts of resources
are used in ways that ultimately destroy more resources. Putting health
before business is also best for the long term health of the economy, and
does not just benefit the modern 1%.
If the bill passes, it would be another recognition of the dangers of
pesticides in law. This is why companies such as Monsanto have already
taken notice of it, and are testifying against it.
Pesticide companies are reliant on the general public being naive to the
health and ecological impacts of pesticides, or there would be public
uproar. Because so many of the products used today are harmful to human
health, unless there is a large scientific push or regulation many are willing
to dismiss the danger because they, “...will already get cancer anyways.” It
is absolutely deplorable that citizens are exposed to such health risks so
commonly, and HB 399 is the first of many steps towards a healthier
society. This bill is easy for even skeptics to support because no one wants
to endanger children who are obviously the most at risk due to their
developmental stage and their interactions with lawns. We do need to value
human life at all ages as well.
While the bill is a good step forward it could use clarification, and
better notification systems. Several positions within local government are
given responsibilities that need further detail. There should be detailed
rules regarding what can be considered an emergency warranting pesticide
application. If the town board of health does not agree with the purpose of
this bill, any small issue could be considered for pesticide application. Those
in charge of this should also be provided an educational course or reading
material to learn more about safe pest management and the health effects
of pesticides. The notices would also be much more effective prior to
pesticide use so it may be effective to require pesticide sprayers to post
signage in case those responsible for providing notice to citizens were
unable to before pesticides were sprayed.
HB 399 would be a great addition to New Hampshire legislation that
would truly be for the people. At the very least it was able to spark a
conversation and educate people on the negative health effects of practices
so common they go unnoticed. As Rachel Carson states in
Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid
surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our
enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent
insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite
Students and faculty from classes on Environmental Governance and Environmental Law at Keene State College are the authors of these posts. We also invite guest authors when appropriate.
NH Science for Citizens
Keene, NH 03431
A project of students and scientists in collaboration with local citizens and NH state representatives.