Legal Issues with Aerial Spraying

This opinion provided by Rick Poulin, of Counsel at Smith & Lowney PLLC, Seattle Washington:

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) cannot engage in aerial spraying of pesticides without first obtaining a declaration of emergency from the Governor. Here’s why.

First, it’s a fundamental principle of administrative law that agencies only have those powers expressly granted to them, and those necessarily implied from their statutory delegation of authority.

Second, it’s a basic principle of statutory construction that statutes cannot be interpreted in such a way that parts of the statute are rendered superfluous.

Third, RCW 17.24.171 contains an explicit — and narrowly limited — authorization allowing the WSDA to engage in “the aerial application of pesticides.” See RCW 17.24.171(3).

In essence, this law states that the WSDA is authorized to engage in the aerial application of pesticides only upon the Governor’s order allowing the use of emergency measures — and even then, only “after thorough evaluation of all other alternatives[.]” RCW 17.24.171(3).

Under the rule of statutory construction noted above, this explicit and limited grant of express authority prevents the WSDA from claiming that it also has implied authority to do the same thing. This is because such an interpretation would render substantial parts of RCW 17.24.171(1) and (3) superfluous — there would be no reason for the WSDA to “request the governor to order emergency measures” under RCW 17.24.171(1), or for the governor to declare the emergency as discussed in RCW 17.24.171(3) if the WSDA already had the implied authority to use aerial spraying whenever it wants.
Other Action

Educate yourself on what will happen if your area is sprayed with pesticides for gypsy moth. No Spray Zone maintains a diary on our home page with news about sprayed areas. We have extensive information on our web site about the pesticides used, what the problems with them are, what alternatives might be available, and why they are not being used. Write to your legislators and ask why, if there are reasonable alternatives, are you being targeted for a pesticide spraying.

Info on gypsy moth spraying