State Preemption

GCSAA supports the development and use of science based best management practices (BMPs) and enactment of integrated pest management plans (IPM) for pesticide applications through superintendent-regulator-university partnerships at local and state levels of government. GCSAA also supports the enactment of state laws based on sound science preempting regulation of the use of pesticides and prohibiting local governments from adopting such laws. Sound science includes the recognized/accepted science methodologies and practices for research that follow the high standards of the scientific method. These standards include important investigational attributes and practices such as the formulation of a readily testable hypothesis; the use of systematic and well-documented experimental or analytical methods; the application of appropriate data analysis tools (e.g., statistics and mathematical models) to the data; and the articulation of conclusions that address the hypothesis and are supported by the results. Sound science is also reproducible until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory.

Local regulation of the use of these products is costly, unnecessary and interferes in the application of IPM practices on the golf course. Local pesticide bans/restrictions hinder the ability of golf course superintendents to control pests that have a detrimental effect on healthy turf, trees and ornamentals. Restricting the use of effective pesticides can curb the ability to control disease carrying pests and can jeopardize public health and sanitation. Local pesticide bans/restrictions also require the use of resources for investigation of violations and enforcement, creating an unnecessary drain on community funds.

When used properly, pesticides promote healthy turfgrass which provides many environmental benefits including wildlife habitat and a natural water filter.

Many cities and counties across the country are debating ordinances to ban/restrict the use of chemical pesticides on city/public property. This includes parks, city office buildings and government-owned recreation facilities such as golf courses. Local bans/restrictions on pesticide use is a trend that has gained momentum ever since the city of San Francisco, Calif., adopted such an ordinance in 1996. This ordinance has been used as a model by anti-pesticide activists to try to enact similar laws in other locations. Bans on pesticide use by local governments has also been a precursor to efforts to totally ban the use of all pesticides in a community—including applications by private citizens to their homes and lawns, applications to commercial property, privately owned golf courses, sports fields and other recreational facilities.

Many states have preemption (or "state primacy") laws to prohibit municipalities from adopting local laws and regulations on the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Without such laws, the more than 80,000 municipalities in the U.S. could adopt and enforce their own unique ordinances, including use and applicator certification, making compliance virtually impossible. Local pesticide restrictions hinder the ability of golf course superintendents to control pests that have a detrimental effect on healthy turf.

GCSAA monitors and takes action in collaboration with members and chapters on preemption/primacy laws and regulations and pesticide bans/restrictions across the country.

In Spring 2006, Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) launched a coordinated grassroots effort to address attempts at the local government level by activists to ban the use of pesticides and fertilizers. GCSAA is working closely with RISE to ensure that specialty pest management products remain available for purchase and use.

In 2013, GCSAA and its members responded to proposed pesticide bans in Long Island, New York; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Thurston County, Washington; Tacoma Park, Maryland and Montgomery County, Maryland.

In 2014, GCSAA and its members responded to proposed pesticide bans in Charlottesville, Virginia; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Cook County Illinois. GCSAA also closely followed attempts by the Colorado Pesticide Reform Coalition to overturn pesticide preemption in the state.

In 2015, GCSAA and its members responded to proposed pesticide bans in Montgomery County, Maryland; South Portland, Maine; Colorado; Connecticut; and Charlottesville, Virginia.

In 2016, GCSAA and RISE worked together to address anti-pesticide bills in CA, CT, MA, ME, MD, NY, NJ, FL, VT, NH, and NM.