No aerial spraying hearing, commissioner says
Public hearing 'provides forum for a fight,' not valuable input, official says
By PAULA DOBBYN
Anchorage Daily News
(Published: April 25, 2003)
The state's top environmental regulator says if Alaskans don't want aerial spraying of pesticides, they should talk to their legislators, not her.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Ernesta Ballard is developing new rules about spraying pesticides from aircraft without holding public hearings, a move that has outraged tribal officials, environmentalists and some lawmakers. Aerial spraying is permitted in Alaska under the Forest Practices Act and it's not up to her to stop it, Ballard said.
"I take my direction from the state of Alaska. In Alaska, it's legal," she said.
Ballard's department is accepting written comments on the proposed regulations until Thursday, but no public hearings are planned, deliberately.
In a letter sent to a pesticide watchdog group last month, one of Ballard's employees, Kristin Ryan, said that because pesticide spraying is so controversial that the DEC doesn't think public hearings are an effective way to gather input.
"It provides a forum for a fight. We get no valuable input," said Ryan, head of the environment health section.(more)