Monterey makes its case against LBAM

May 8, 2008 7:27:18 PM PDT
It's round two in the legal fight to prevent the state from spraying for the light brown apple moth. The Department of Agriculture says the threat is similar to a fire or flood and it shouldn't have to wait for an extensive environmental review to attack the pest. In Monterey, opponents of the aerial spraying made their case on Thursday.

The state finds itself back in court defending aerial spray to eradicate the light brown apple moth, known as LBAM.

"This is supposed to be an immediate response to a danger. Well, how bad is the danger now, after the spraying occurred? We don't know," said Zan Henson, Attorney to stop the spraying.

The Department of Food and Agriculture says it will take four years of spraying in infested areas to see an impact because the pheromone spray does not kill the moths, but merely confuses them and keeps them from mating.

The Deputy Attorney General arguing for the state would not talk with the media, but did tell the judge, LBAM warrants emergency action.

"The record does state that food crop losses in a severe infestation could be as high as 85 percent," said Deputy Attorney General Anita Ruud to the judge.

So far there is no crop damage in California and the state is aggressively tracking the infestation. The light brown apple moth, or LBAM, count now tops 20,000 with most of them in three counties.

Here's a break down:
12,829 LBAM have been trapped in Santa Cruz County
5,248 moths are documented in the city and county of San Francisco
1,563 moths have been counted in Monterey County

Opponents of the spraying have already won their court fight in San Cruz County where a judge said the LBAM threat was not so imminent that the state could bypass its own regulations for environmental review.

Activists promise the Bay Area is the next legal battleground.

"Those planes aren't going to fly in the Bay Area for sure," said Frank Egger, from the Stop the Spray Marin.
"Because you will go to court to stop it?" asked ABC7's Karina Rusk.
"We will go to court, absolutely, absolutely," said Egger.

If the hearing in Monterey County has the same outcome as Santa Cruz, the state may have to rethink its plan to resume aerial spraying in mid August. Judge Robert O'Farrell promises a decision very soon.


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