Oregon Lawmakers Consider Stronger Oversight Of Aerial Herbicide Spraying
SALEM, Ore. -- Oregon lawmakers are considering new rules to better protect the public from aerial herbicide spraying.
The Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources met Monday in response to a case on state's southern coast, where dozens of people in the community of Cedar Valley claimed nearby forest spraying this past fall made them sick. Several residents traveled to attend the meeting and sat in the front row as lawmakers deliberated.
"My question is, do you need more tools?" Senator Alan Bates, D-Medford, asked of officials from the Department of Forestry who testified before the committee.
Similarly, Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, asked the Department of Agriculture whether the state should establish a new database tracking what pesticides are actually applied.
"That's got to be a conversation that happens in these halls," Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba said after the meeting. "That's a pretty significant policy discussion. It would require a statutory change in order to do that."
Bates said he was dissatisfied with the agencies’ responses to questions from lawmakers, and that he hopes for legislation in the next session.
“The people in the front row who had been affected by this, they were not looking real happy," Bates said. "They felt that government's failing them. I think we have a responsibility to take care of this."
Residents from the area said most of all they wanted accountability, and would like to see changes in the laws if necessary.
"We just want to make sure it's going forward in a way that we're not ignored," said John Burns, 67, of Cedar Valley. "If legislation has to change, absolutely, but first of all and most importantly, that it's not just swept under the rug."
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