Spin Control

FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2011, 11:15 A.M.

WA Lege Day 75: Senate OKs phosphorus fertilizer ban for lawns

OLYMPIA -- The Senate approved a ban on phosphorus in lawn fertilizers, but with changes that will send the bill  back to the House for another vote.

Among the changes: HB 1489 no longer exempts commercial organic fertilizers that contain phosphorus, and no longer has a broad statement about the problems the chemical can cause because of disputed research. It still allows phosphorus fertilizers to be used to get lawns started or to restore damaged lawns, and is aimed at discouraging residential users from putting the chemical on healthy lawns for fear that it will wash off with the rain or excessive watering, then flow into nearby lakes and streams.

It's opposed by farm groups but supported by some cities, including the City of Spokane, as well as other entities that discharge into the Spokane River as a way to reduce the phosphorus levels in the river and Lake Spokane, where the chemical is thought to contribute to algae problems.

Among the companies backing the ban is the Inland Empire Paper Company, which has the same corporate parent as The Spokesman-Review.

The bill passed 32-16, but not before a floor debate that included a dispute over, ahem, human waste in organic fertilizers.

"All human waste contains phosphorus," Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, said.

OK then. Good to know.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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