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Takoma Park: Weed and Buggery of a Different Sort

Ahhh, Takoma Park… Maryland’s little morsel of Moonbeamery. Long referred to as the People’s Republic of Takoma Park, this Montgomery County slab of suburban self-righteousness allows noncitizens to vote; just voted to let 16- and 17-year-olds vote; affirmed its status as a ‘sanctuary city’; banned Foie Gras in its restaurants; prohibited gas-powered leaf blowers for public works crews; and declared the town a nuclear-free zone way back in 1983, meaning the town won’t do business with any companies that make nuclear weapons.

In a “nut”shell – and outside of the Maryland General Assembly – Takoma Park is arguably one of the most socialist enclaves east of the Mississippi.

By the way: one must wonder if T-Park accepts any federal funding (America’s stockpile of nuke weapons is owned and maintained by the government) or uses candles instead of getting their electricity via the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant

Now, this 17,000-member drum-circle-for-coexistence has plucked a couple dream-catchers to spearhead (Goddess bless the Native Americans, man) a movement to ban the use of pesticides in their little Utopian hamlet – where, on average, 1 in 34 residents are victims of property crimes.

Two among the 17,000 are Julie Taddeo and Catherine Cummings, the duo that has spearheaded the effort to convince the city council that the “Safe Grow Zone” ordinance be passed.

The proposed ordinance seeks to ban the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and various other substances used to control pests for cosmetic use—or use intended for aesthetic purposes, and would effectively ban private citizens from controlling weeds and pests on their own property…

“Our immediate neighbors use lawn pesticides,” Catherine Cummings told the Takoma Park Patch. “We quickly realized our kids were at risk from their use… children, pets, our creek—all of us—are exposed to drift and runoff.”

The “drift and runoff” she cites stems from the use of products such as Roundup and Ortho Max, two of the many brands that contain chemicals such as 2,4-D, Imazapyr and Glyphosate – all of which would be banned under the ordinance.

Exceptions, by the way, would include uses on plants that pose a risk to public health or safety and noxious weeds.

After all, we can’t have the snowflakes – little Seagull Dream and Peaceful Willow – getting a bad case of sumac while they haul their Tabouli-infused hummus scraps out to the compost tumbler.

Proponents of the Safe Grow Initiative say that science is on their side, pointing to studies that have linked many of the chemicals in pesticides/herbicides to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, childhood leukemia, asthma, kidney disease, birth defects, and Parkinson’s disease. Lawn pesticides have also been found in both urban creeks and groundwater where they can be toxic to various types of marine organisms.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – as recently as April of last year – has refused to ban 2,4-D,  saying the National Resources Defense Council (the NRDC is one of the environmental groups the Safe Grows frequently references) did not adequately show that the chemical would be harmful under the conditions in which it is used.

In its ruling, the EPA said that while some studies suggested that high doses of the chemical could be harmful, they did not establish lack of safety, and in some cases they were contradicted by other studies.

In other words, pesticide bans – such as the one proposed by the Takoma Park Safe Grows – are more about the potential for harm than any actual damage caused by the would-be threat.

As it is most recently written, the Safe Grow Initiative contends that pesticide/herbicide application “presents an unacceptable threat to public and animal health, the environment, and the region’s watershed.”

The first question then should be what exactly constitutes an “acceptable threat?” The Takoma Park ordinance includes broad language such as when “any activity raises threats.”

It’s a shame that principle doesn’t apply to allowing illegals in the voting booth.

That principle, however, does have a name – the Precautionary Principal – a United Nations-devised strategy that justifies preventive measures or policies despite scientific uncertainty about whether detrimental effects will occur.

Translated: it’s the progressives/liberals’ modus operandi for everything – nothing substantial is accomplished, but it sure makes the proponents feel and sleep a whole lot better.

Yes, there is always room for debate when it comes to something as unsettling as having the population exposed to toxic chemicals. However, when chemical herbicides and pesticides are applied safely and correctly and within already established federal guidelines any risk is significantly reduced.

A point made – in a delicious twist of irony – by an announcement that seven Montgomery County companies were the first to qualify under the county’s new Green Landscape Business Certification Program – a few of which offer “responsible pest management and chemical application strategies.”

If implemented as written, the use of weed killers on any lawn in Takoma Park would result in a charge of a ‘class B municipal infraction’; an act punishable via a $400 fine for a first offense and an $800 fine for subsequent violations.

Cross the five violation threshold and you will not be allowed inside any Whole Foods store ever again.

So, who would enforce such a ban? Takoma Park’s city attorney’s office not only questioned the financial feasibility of such enforcement, but also said that the city would have to rely on residents to report their law-breaking neighbors.

What a great way to dish-out a little payback for that neighbor who plays his non-jam-band tunes just a wee bit too loud or lets his Rottweiler continue to organically fertilize your sustainable peace garden.

In addition to the all-volunteer weed police issue, the Safe Grow Initiative steps all over property rights. If passed, property owners will be forced to allow government to make decisions about their private land use – all based on an ordinance enacted without any demonstrated threat to the community.

But that’s okay – what’s really important is the ability of these activists to find their happy place, promote the agenda of the environmental groups that sent the free reusable grocery sack as thanks for the contribution, and know in their hearts that while they may not have saved the world, they at least saved their little part of it.

Or, as the late-great George Carlin once said, “Making the world safe for their Volvos”… or for their Redroot Pigwood, as the case may be.

Categories: Environment, Must Read, Policy, Regulation
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