After an Aug. 4 decision by a Montgomery County Circuit Court to strike down the County’ ban on pesticides, the County Council decided to appeal.
On Aug. 16, the County Council voted to direct the County Attorney, Marc Hansen, to appeal the Montgomery County’s Circuit Court decision on the County’ ban on “cosmetic” pesticides. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Terrence McGann ruled that County’s ordinance preempted state law.
“Our Council’s legal team advised us that the County would have a reasonable chance of prevailing in an appeal of the Circuit Court’s decision,” said Montgomery County President Roger Berliner (D-1) in a statement.
County Executive Ike Leggett, who worried that the pesticide ban might preempt state law, said he was okay with the Council’s decision to appeal, but said he was worried that a decision from an appellate court judge could go beyond the scope of the case and set a legal precedent detrimental to the County.
“There is some risk to the County and there are some things you can gain from it,” Leggett said.
In 2015, the Council passed Bill 52-14 on a 6-3 vote, which banned the use of many types of pesticide for lawn use on private properties, but exempted farmers in the County from the ordinance. Council members Berliner, Craig Rice (D-2) and Sidney Katz (D-3) voted against the bill.
In November the Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, a national trade association representing manufacturers, formulators, distributors of pesticides, along with some County residents sued the County claiming the state, not the County, had the authority to regulate pesticides. Before the ruling, the ban was set to take effect Jan. 1, 2018.
“The Council sits as the Board of Health, but the court has ruled that we are preempted from protecting our residents from this health threat,” said Council member George Leventhal (D-at large) in a statement. “This sets a worrisome precedent that should be overturned.”
At the time council members argued that the pesticide that are legal under Environmental Protection Agency regulations, are harmful to people and the County needed stricter regulations that go beyond the federal scope.
“I thought we did a proven protective thing,” said County Council member Marc Elrich (D-at large). “I think the government under Democratic and Republican administrations has shown itself to disagree with science when it comes to the interest of large corporations.”