2013 Legislative Updates
At the Federal Level
PLANET provided input to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) about the cooling effects of turfgrass in light of an ASHRAE proposal that would limit turfgrass in standards for the design of high-performance green buildings in Dallas Texas in January.
ASHRAE is recommending that at least 60 percent of the vegetated area around building sites consist of biodiverse plantings of native plants and/or adapted plants “other than turfgrass.”
PLANET is working with the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and the Irrigation Association to provide scientific information on turfgrass. Research demonstrating the benefits of turfgrass was also shared with organizations that are writing guidelines for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems and the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES).
Pesticide Policy Dialogue
PLANET continued representing the landscape industry at a recent meeting of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pesticide Policy Dialogue Committee which provides feedback on a variety of pesticide regulatory, policy and program implementation issues, including a special committee on integrated pest management (IPM) in schools. Topics for discussion have included registration review, reduced risk pesticides, minor uses, environmental marketing claims, and public outreach efforts to name a few.
Recently as part of the monosodium methanearsonate (MSMA) task force, PLANET attended the EPA’s newly created “focus meeting” to make a presentation to help restore the uses of MSMA for residential use. MSMA is an herbicide that has long been used in warm-season climates on hard to control weeds. The EPA determined in 2009 that registrants of MSMA would not be permitted to sell the product for residential use after December 31, 2012.
PLANET also submitted comments regarding the registration of dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) herbicide used by the industry for more than 30 years. Last year, after considering public comment and all available studies, the EPA denied the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) petition to revoke all tolerances and cancel all registrations of 2,4-D. The EPA concluded that the science behind current ecological and worker risk assessments for 2,4-D was sound and that there was no basis to change the registrations.
PLANET continues to participate on the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) task force which is working to develop a standardized procedure for determining available water for landscapes and available water for estimating landscape water use. The estimation of landscape water requirements are increasingly being used to limit irrigation or allocate irrigation budgets on landscapes and will continue to grow as various “green” ordinances and codes gain popularity.
PLANET’s is also involved with TCIA in an ANSI standard on integrated pest management (IPM) for tree care.
At the State Level
PLANET recently submitted testimony to Connecticut’s Legislative Environment Committee on five bills, including one for a preemption roll back that would allow local governments to make their pesticide requirements and expansion of the existing K-8 school ban, both of which were introduced last session and did not gain support, to pass. We supported the testimony of the Connecticut Environmental Council. The committee chair called for consolidation of four bills under a single task force bill. We will continue to follow the activity.