Mosquito-spraying decision shows public process worked as it should, says Taylor

State Rep. David Taylor says the mosquito control permit issued May 19 by the Washington Department of Ecology is a substantive improvement over the agency’s original proposal. The first version drew fire from local mosquito control districts, state legislators and private citizens who were concerned it would be overly restrictive.

“I’m persuaded that the finalized mosquito control rules set forward by Ecology are reasonable, workable, effective and safe,” said Taylor, who in March led a vanguard of 20 lawmakers in opposing language in Ecology’s original permit update. In their letters to the department, the cadre of legislators from Eastern and Western Washington also objected to the agency’s plan to hold just one public hearing on the proposal. Hundreds of people attended the workshop, which was held March 9 in Moses Lake.

“The department said at the time that it was conducting ‘a full public process’ on the proposed permit, but planned no additional meetings. We felt that one public meeting did not rise to the level of what one would reasonably call a full and inclusive procedure,” said Taylor, R-Moxee.

The department received about 500 written or verbal comments before the public-comment period ended March 17.

The finalized Aquatic Mosquito Control General Permit ends the defined distinction between nuisance and vector (disease-carrying) mosquitoes, allowing proactive spraying for adult mosquitoes regardless of the disease threshold.

Widely regarded as nuisance insects, mosquitoes also are transmitters of several viruses that can cause severe disease and even death, including West Nile Virus.

In an e-mail to lawmakers, Grant Pfeifer, director of Ecology’s Eastern Regional Office, said the permit “will give districts what they need — the legal authorization to do what they need to do to help keep mosquitoes from being a health risk or unbearable nuisance.”

“That was welcome news,” said Taylor. “We pressed the department to allow control of both nuisance and vector mosquitoes — without spraying restrictions — as long as application of the pesticides complied with label instructions.

“We also wanted to ensure that Ecology took the time to get the informed input of the broadest possible range of residents, business owners, elected officials and mosquito control districts. We would have preferred additional public meetings in both Eastern and Western Washington. That said, vigorous citizen involvement on the issue was a major factor that moved the agency to make significant revisions in the original version,” Taylor concluded.

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For more information, contact: Bill Taylor, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7074

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov