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Maryland to Become First State to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides for Consumer Use
In an effort to curb its plummeting honeybee population, Maryland is about to become the first state in the nation to pass strict restrictions on neonicotinoids for consumer use.
Neonicotinoids are a potent class of pesticides used on many crops in the U.S. that have been linked to the widespread decline of pollinator species. As EcoWatch mentioned previously, 29 independent scientists conducted a global review of 1,121 independent studies and found overwhelming evidence of pesticides linked to bee declines.
According to the Post, the bipartisan legislation would take neonicotinoids away from everyday consumers who spray their home gardens and trees with these harmful pesticides. They would not be able to buy neonic-products such as Knockout Ready-to-Use Grub Killer, Ortho Bug B Gon, All-In-One Rose & Flower Care, Lesco Bandit Insecticide from the thousands of hardware stores, garden centers, nurseries in the state that sell such products. Farmers and professional gardeners, who better understand how to apply the chemicals, are exempt from the law which will come into effect in the year 2018.
The news comes as much-needed reprieve for the Maryland's dwindling honeybees. Compared to the national average of 42.1 percent, Maryland's beekeepers lost more than 60 percent of their colonies on average in the past year, one of the highest in U.S., according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey.
Del. Anne Healey, D-Prince George’s County, who authored the House version of the bill, told the Washington Post that the new law would “be a landmark, and it would set a standard that maybe other states would follow.”
Our honey bees are in serious trouble, and if we lose our bees, and other pollinators, one-third of our food supply is in danger. As The Sun's editorial noted, "it will take more than good intentions to preserve and protect" bees and other pollinators.
ThinkProgess reported that while California, Alaska, New York, and Massachusetts have made attempts to ban or limit neonicotinoids, no piece of legislation has made it as far as Maryland. Only Oregon has a bill that bans neonics on a certain species of a tree.
Counter to the aggravatingly slow action from the USDA—which has taken more than 20 years to admit that neonicotinoids kill bees—a growing list of individual cities and jurisdictions such as Portland and Eugene in Oregon, Seattle and Spokane in Washington and many more have banned neonics.
Additionally, in recent years a number of nurseries, landscaping companies and retailers—including Lowe's, Home Depot, Whole Foods and BJ’s Wholesale Club have taken steps to eliminate bee-killing pesticides from their stores.
France is moving towards a total ban on bee-harming neonics, a move that goes beyond European Union restrictions, Reuters reported last week.
However, Maryland’s Department of Agriculture has denied evidence linking the decline of bees to neonicotinoids. The agency said in a statement that it “has not documented any cases of neonicotinoid pesticides negatively impacting honeybees in Maryland,” citing a USDA National Honeybee Survey saying “no neonicotinoids were found in Maryland pollen samples, and fewer pesticides overall were detected when compared to the national average.”
The Washington Post also noted that the state department is concerned that the $200,000 allocated in the House bill to implement and enforce the new law would be inadequate, arguing that it would likely cost more than $1 million a year instead. Additionally, Maryland's amateur gardeners are still able to buy the pesticides from out of state or the internet making enforcement all the more difficult.
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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.