Alaska Gives Nod to Aerial Pesticide Spraying

In a blow to environmentalists, Alaska has approved controversial regulations governing aerial pesticide spraying, set to go into effect at the end of the month. The new regulations establish a 35-foot “pesticide-free zone” around water bodies, as well as a secondary buffer zone designed to prevent chemicals from drifting or leaching into the land inside that 35-foot boundary. Environmentalists have severely criticized the regulations, noting that pesticides can drift for miles, not just feet; proponents counter that spraying is a necessary tool to combat disease and blight in Alaska’s forests. The regulations caused an outcry earlier this year when the state Department of Environmental Conservation refused to hold public hearings about them. In a bit of consolatory news for the masses, the final regulations do require that the public be notified before every spraying.