FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Conference Committee to Vote on School Pesticide Amendment
WHAT: Meeting of
Education Conference Committee
Washington, DC, November 30, 2001 - The Education Conference Committee, deliberating on the Education Bill, is set to debate and vote on Senate Amendment 805, the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA). The amendment passed the U.S. Senate without a dissenting vote in mid-June with the support of numerous industry, environmental, public interest and education organizations. This week, November 27, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ), a member of the Education Conference Committee, and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), the amendments sponsor, held a press conference to show support for the amendment. Today, Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), the measure's sponsor in the Senate issued a review of supporters, including school officials, to counter what has been characterized as misinformation being distributed by opponents. The legislation, the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA) of 2001, sponsored by Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), is included in the Senate's Better Education for Students and Teachers Act, S.1, which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). There is no similar language in the House Education Bill.
SEPA grew out of a landmark agreement among groups representing parents, teachers, health professionals, environmentalists, pest management professionals and the chemical industry. It provides for the adoption of school pest management plans and notification and posting when certain pesticide applications are used. After Senate passage, SEPA ran into opposition from House Agriculture Committee members in a July hearing, though the committee had previously refused to hold hearings on the legislation or participate in negotiations this Spring.
"We urge the Education Conference Committee to join with parents, educators, doctors, and industry representatives to provide for a safe learning environment," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP), which represents the public interest coalition. The legislation requires the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) practices that minimize risk to children, utilize safer practices and provide safety information to parents and school staff when pesticides are used in the schools. Data show that IPM methods save schools money, according to supporters.