OR River Could Take Legal Action in Aerial Pesticide Ban Case
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
NEWPORT, Ore. – The Siletz River ecosystem could take some novel legal action in an Oregon case over a measure banning aerial pesticides. In May, Lincoln County residents passed a measure outlawing the spraying of pesticides from aircraft. The measure is the first of its kind in the nation.
However, two plaintiffs representing farms in the county have sued to overturn the measure.
Rio Davidson of Lincoln County Community Rights - which wrote the measure along with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund - says the Siletz River ecosystem has filed a motion to intervene in this case.
"The idea here is that nature needs to have rights, and the only way to sometimes protect nature is by actually having nature intervene itself into a lawsuit, and that's essential to the ecosystem, to ongoing health-function and survival," he says.
Over the past year, high courts in New Zealand, India and Colombia have recognized the rights of rivers.
The measure faced local opposition from Lincoln County Sheriff Curtis Landers, who says a provision allowing "direct action" would be a threat to public safety. The Lincoln County Circuit judge has put a hold on that provision. Other opponents have argued the language of the measure is too broad.
But Davidson says the large pesticide sprays on forests before they are logged are putting hazardous chemicals into the county's rivers and streams. Ultimately, he says the people of Lincoln County have spoken on this issue and that the defense of this measure will rely on rights found in the Declaration of Independence and the federal and state constitutions.
"Corporate rights or state pre-emption must not be able to violate the communities' rights to local self-government when the people exercise that right to protect the right to our health, safety and welfare," he adds.
The judge has not yet decided whether to allow the Siletz River ecosystem to intervene in the case. Lane County voters will consider a similar measure banning aerial pesticide application this November.
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