Nanny State of the Week: County can use same lawn treatments it banned residents from using

By Eric Boehm  /  Watchdog

A county government in Maryland has determined some chemicals used in common lawn-care products are unsafe.

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GOOD FOR ME, BUT NOT FOR THEE: Montgomery County, Maryland, has banned the use of many common lawn treatments because the chemicals are supposedly dangerous, but will continue to use those same chemicals on county-owned land like golf courses and parks.


The kicker? Even the Environmental Protection Agency — one of the greatest bureaucratic nanny states in this nation of ours — has deemed the chemicals perfectly safe when used in small doses, such as the amount the average person would use on his lawn.

The second kicker? The county exempted its own golf courses and parks from the new ban, so it can continue to use those same, supposedly dangerous, lawn-care products.

We’ve said it before and we’ll surely say it again: Logic, common sense and empirical data have no place in the nanny state.

This week’s winner is Montgomery County, Maryland, where the County Council voted, 6-3, last week to impose the ban. The new rules make lawn care products such as Scott’s Miracle Grow and Monsanto’s Round-Up illicit substances.

As we noted when we covered this same topic in June, when the ban was first proposed the idea was to save county residents from potential cancer-causing chemicals in the weed-killing sprays and spreads.

The Washington Post detailed this week how county council members are patting themselves on their collective backs for saving their fellow suburbanites from a problem that didn’t exist. If widespread use of these chemicals are really so terrible, why should huge expanses of green space — such as golf courses and sporting fields — be exempt?

Homeowners associations and landscapers in the suburban D.C. county pushed back, unsuccessfully.

“I think this is a case of politics trumping science and fact,” Karen Reardon, vice president of public affairs for Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, a national trade association for pesticide manufacturers and distributors, told the Washington Post.

Opponents of the ban pointed to the fact that pesticides included in lawn-care products are already subject to lengthy federal and state regulations and safety testing.

If the officials at the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency — both of which, one would hope, are relying on science and not politics to determine what’s OK and what isn’t — say the chemicals are acceptable, why should the county’s elected officials feel differently?

And, hey, local control is usually a good thing. Local governments should generally be praised for a willingness to thumb their noses at the EPA and other federal nannies.

But in this case, the county doesn’t have much scientific evidence to stand on. It doesn’t have much of a legal case, either. The Maryland Attorney General’s office concluded that state courts are likely to overturn the ban, if passed.

RELATED: Town makes mowing mandatory

Here’s some good news: The new law doesn’t include any actual provisions for the county to catch or punish offenders. Proponents of the ban say it’s intended to educate, rather than to punish.

In the real world, educating people about the potential harms of using a certain product on their own property — if those harms even exist, which, again, they don’t in this instance — doesn’t require making it illegal to use.

Anyone know where we can buy some Nanny-State-B-Gone?

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