To the Editor:
Islanders are taking action against the proposed spraying of herbicides, a mix of five that includes glyphosate (Roundup), along the electrical rights of way in three Island towns by Eversource. On Thursday, citizens, members of town boards, and members of We Stand Together, and POCCA (Protect Our Cape Cod Aquifer) met and discussed the situation. Laura Kelley, founder of POCCA, has been working for many years to stop the spraying on the Cape, and she and her vice president, Natalia von Hausen, made the journey to come and speak with us at the West Tisbury library. We learned a lot from her stories of trials and successes, and gained insight on how to move forward.
Although Cape towns haven’t yet been able to enact a “home rule” regarding the use of herbicides, Aquinnah has had a home rule banning the use of herbicides townwide for years, and this makes them permanently exempt from the spraying of ROWs. I think this may be our ticket; otherwise we are stuck crawling up the ranks, through Eversource to MDAR (Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources), and then on up to the EPA, like Ms. Kelley and her team have tenaciously been doing. This is a difficult route, and one we could avoid, by taking care of it at the town level.
Please contact your selectpeople and ask for a home rule banning the use of herbicides in your town on the next ballot. We have a very small window of time to stop the 2017 spraying — only 21 days from the approval by MDAR of Eversource’s YOP (yearly operating plan), which could happen at any moment.
It is important to remember that these ROWs are on land owned by those abutting it, and in those abutters’ deeds there is an easement to the land, where it says that the electrical company shall maintain the vegetation on the ROW. Ms. Kelley let us know that most of the easements she has seen contain language specific to the types of maintenance the electrical company can employ, with words like “by mechanical means” or “hand-pruning.” This language could be helpful in stopping the spraying of the ROWs. Take a look at your deed and find out.
I encourage all abutters to call William Hayes, senior arborist at Eversource, at 781-441-3932 as soon as possible. Give him your name, address, and phone number, and state that you want to be exempt from spraying this year. If you have a well and you are an abutter, it is especially important to call and make sure you are exempt from spraying.
There is a lot of information on POCCAcapecod.org on this subject if you wish to learn more. Talk to your selectpeople. Thanks for caring for each other.