On September 25th of this year, Judge Bachart ruled that Measure 21-177 was presented lawfully to the voters, and was lawfully enacted. That measure banned aerial spraying of pesticides in Lincoln County.
“However,” she ruled, “state law preemption in the area of pesticide regulation is conclusive.” The doctrine of preemption allows the federal or state government to overrule a local government decision – even if that decision was made by a majority vote of the people! Why should a lawful vote of the people be overruled, particularly if that vote was to protect their health and safety?
The judge notes that state preemption has been used to strike down local policies which infringe on fundamental rights, like equal protection. Certainly preemption can be used to protect
fundamental human rights, but Oregon’s preemption of pesticide regulation, slipped into law by the timber industry as a rider on a mass transit bill, protects not human rights but corporate profits.
Thus preemption has been captured, manipulated and used by the timber industry as a weapon to remove protection from poisoning by aerial pesticide spraying that penetrates the air, the land and the drinking water of all of Lincoln County’s citizens.
Measure 21-177 was passed to protect people from aerial pesticide poisoning by asserting our constitutional rights to health and safety. It is meant to stop an illegitimate use of preemption when it allows harm to the very people that government is supposed to protect. That is why Judge Bachart’s decision, based solely on state preemption, is being appealed.
The Oregon Constitution establishes that “all power is inherent in the people . . . governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. . . they have at all times a right to alter, reform or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.”
- Editor’s note: The issue has been appealed to a higher court in hopes of an affirmative ruling in favor of those who brought the lawsuit.