I believe Alaskans have reason to be concerned by President Bush's recent decision to appoint Elin D. Miller as the Environmental Protection Agency's regional administrator for Region 10, which includes Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
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Miller has previously worked for Arysta Life Sciences and Dow Chemicals, two pesticide giants. She also has served on the boards of two pesticide lobbying groups, CropLife and Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment. CropLife and RISE are affiliate groups that pursue widening the use of pesticides, especially for everyday urban use. Her only experience outside a purely agriculture world is that she was appointed director of the California Department of Conservation, where she regulated oil and gas production, mining, recycling and agriculture land conservation, and was chief deputy director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Miller is obviously strongly rooted in the chemical agriculture and pesticide industries.
So why is this cause for concern to Alaskans? Alaskans depend on our abundant natural resources for our livelihoods and sustenance. Pesticide use has a history of causing serious harm to the environment and human health. Alaska is dealing with multiple pesticide issues that are threatening the sustainability and health of various ecosystems. Klukwan Inc., has recently received a permit to spray aerial pesticides on 2,000 acres of clear-cut land on Long Island. The people of Hydaburg, who are dependent on the land for food, have opposed this permit. The Alaska Railroad Corp. recently submitted an application to the Department of Environmental Conservation to spray pesticides along the railways from Seward to Fairbanks. This spraying would threaten the health of nearby water bodies and communities. Chemicals that are seldom used in the Arctic are starting to show up in Alaska's wildlife, plants, water and air. These are only a few examples of pesticide issues that Alaska is facing today.
It will be important to keep track of the leadership Miller provides to Region 10 and hold the EPA accountable. We must ensure that Miller does not push a pro-pesticide agenda while working for the EPA.