Motion to Dismiss Case Calling for IPM in Public Housing
(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2006) The U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently filed a motion to dismiss the case filed by six state attorneys general over the agency's failure to reduce use of pesticides in public housing as required by federal law. HUD also issued a new guidance NOTICE PIH 2006 - 11 (HA), on integrated pest management (IPM) that encourages not mandate the utilization of IPM. Issued February 3, 2006 the guidance is designated to expire February 28, 2007.
According to the he Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act federal agencies are required to: "use Integrated Pest Management techniques in carrying out pest management activities and shall... promote Integrated Pest Management through procurement or regulatory policies, and other activities." Congress adopted this requirement in 1996 and IPM is being effectively utilized by other federal agencies. In the lawsuit the six attorneys general asked the Court to order HUD to require HUD-funded public housing developments to implement IPM. The states also requested that the Court find that HUD's prior inaction on this matter violated federal law (see Daily News).
There are several problems with the new guidance. It shifts the burden of implementation from HUD to housing authorities, property owners and managers allowing them to voluntarily implement IPM. The guidance also states in the purpose that it is to inform public housing agencies and Tribally Designated Housing Entities of the additional reference materials on IPM beyond Maintenance Guidebook Seven: Termite, Insect and Rodent Control. The document also includes a section of cited reference materials for implementing IPM to which HUD clearly states although listed, it does not constitute a HUD endorsement of any specific practice.
Researchers have found that pesticide exposure can induce a poisoning effect linked to asthma. Low-income populations, minorities, and children living in inner-cities experience disproportionately high morbidity and mortality due to asthma. For example, in New York City 17 percent of children suffer from asthma and 30 percent in Harlem, New York. Mr. Spitzer’s office does not believe that HUD’s response is sufficient enough to bring them in to compliance with the law.
New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer filed papers opposing HUD’s motion last week. HUD has until March 14, 2006 to reply. The Court will then schedule an oral argument.