A coalition of lawn care companies and Montgomery County residents are suing the County government, saying a local law passed in 2015 preempts state law on pesticides.
Filed Monday in Montgomery County Circuit, the plaintiff claimed the County Council did not have the authority to pass the Healthy Lawns Act, which bans chemical pesticide on public and private land.
The Healthy Lawns Act is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2018 and would make Montgomery one of the first counties to pass such a ban.
“This is really for us a continuation our really just about two year effort to oppose the passage of this measure,” said Karen Reardon, spokesperson for Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, a national trade association representing manufacturers, formulators, distributors of pesticides and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Reardon said the pesticides soon to be banned hurt businesses, namely lawn care companies depending on pesticides and homeowners who use pesticides to manage their gardens or maintain their homes.
Reardon argued the chemical pesticides the County is banning are already approved by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture.
Council member George Leventhal (D-At large), who was the lead sponsor on Healthy Lawns Act, said the issue of whether the County would preempt state law was discussed when the bill was being debated, but said County attorneys assured him that the County was within its right to pass the bill.
“The question was raised it is our belief is we are not preempted,” Leventhal said.
Leventhal said the council voted to pass the bill to protect people, animals and surface water from the negative health effects with pesticides.
Montgomery County Attorney Ed Lattner said the lawsuit is straightforward issue over whether the County has the legal authority to pass the ban.
“I don’t anticipate there is going to be a lot of factual disputes, this isn’t a bus accident,” Lattner said.
Under the Healthy Lawns Act, the County will phase out pesticides at County parks, instead using chemical free methods from keeping pesticides away.