On the heels of a Santa Cruz County judge's ruling halting aerial spraying for the light brown apple moth, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Thursday that spraying would be halted until a battery of health tests are completed on the agent used in the spraying.
The governor's office indicated that spraying would not resume earlier than Aug. 17.
"To thoroughly ensure the public's safety, the Department of Food and Agriculture has engaged in a thorough battery of acute toxicity tests,'' Gov. Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "I am confident that the additional tests will reassure Californians that we are taking the safest, most progressive approach to ridding our state of this very real threat to our agriculture, environment and economy.''
Earlier this morning, Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick ruled that the apple moth does not constitute enough of a threat to the state to waive the requirement for an environmental impact report before further spraying can take place.
Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Ellen Pirie applauded Judge Burdick's decision.
"We are very pleased that Judge Burdick agreed with the county and the city. The environmental impacts of this spraying need to be fully evaluated and reviewed prior to further spraying over our homes and neighborhoods,'' Ms. Pirie said in a statement.
State food and agriculture officials plan to appeal Judge Burdick's ruling.
"My department will aggressively seek an expedited appeal of this ruling, which threatens the safety of our agriculture, environment, and economy. The light brown apple moth is a serious threat not just to Santa Cruz but to the entire state, and the method we are using is the safest, most progressive eradication program available,'' California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura said in a statement.
A governor's office spokeswoman said Gov. Schwarzenegger's announcement about a spraying halt would not affect the decision to file an appeal.
The light brown apple moth, a native of Australia, has been found in New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom and in the U.S. Classified as invasive, it is known to damage or destroy more than 250 species of plants, including most fruit trees and many species of ornamental plants, as well as oak trees, pine trees and redwoods. It was first discovered in California in Berkeley in February 2007.