Mendocino Partnership For The Precautionary Principle  [Printer-friendly version]
June 27, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Mendocino County, California, has adopted a
precautionary principle policy to guide governmental decisions. Two
county departments will be selected to begin implementing the

On June 27, 2006, the Mendocino County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors
(3-0) adopted the County's first-ever environmental policy -- the
Mendocino County Precautionary Principle Policy. The text of the
policy can be found here.

Two Supervisors, Delbar and Wattenburger, were not present for the
scheduled hearing because they had left the weekly Board meeting in
protest against an earlier agenda item. According to the Board
Chairman, Supervisor David Colfax, both verbalized disfavor for the
adoption of a Precautionary Principle Policy prior to their exit.
Supervisors Colfax, Smith, and Wagenet voted to pass the Policy.

The Precautionary Principle is a guiding framework for decision-making
that anticipates how actions will affect the environment and the
health of future generations. The newly adopted policy will provide an
innovative structure for decision-making. This structure includes the
value of public input, transparency, full-cost and benefit accounting,
and guidance towards alternatives with the least potential impact on
human health and the environment. The Director of Public Health, Carol
Mordhorst, stated "The Precautionary Principle provides a good
opportunity for guidelines for county departments to make decisions
that produce the least harm."

The Precautionary Principle was brought before the County by the
"Mendocino Partnership for the Precautionary Principle," a civic group
assembled in 2005. The first steps included requesting the County
study the Principle's possible implementation. The study period
resulted in the formation of a new policy. According to Environmental
Commons' Director, Britt Bailey, "I am very proud of today's decision.
For the past eight months we have been involved in the study of this
Principle in concert with county officials. We all knew we liked the
ideas behind the Principle but were unsure how the values could be
placed into daily decision-making. In the end, we have built a
relationship with our government -- and this relationship has allowed
for thoughtful discussion and an increased understanding of the ways
in which we can work together to protect the beauty and ecology of our
county as well as the values of its residents."

5th District Supervisor, David Colfax, has been supportive of the
County's adoption of this policy from the beginning stages. "I believe
we can do a better job of protecting our environment and human health.
The Precautionary Principle Policy will provide us with a tool to
protect our beautiful County and its future generations," he said.

Implementation of this policy will begin with a pilot project
utilizing two (2) County Departments to be selected by the Executive

In addition to becoming Mendocino's first environmental policy, the
adoption of the Precautionary Principle marks just the second instance
in which a county government has decided to adopt the Principle. San
Francisco County adopted the Precautionary Principle in 2003.

Contacts: Britt Bailey, Director Environmental Commons (707) 884-5002,

Carol Mordhorst, Director Mendocino Dept. of Public Health (707)

J. David Colfax, 5th District Supervisor Mendocino County Board of
Supervisors (707) 463-4221 / (707) 895-3241