Maine governor signs bill to save the bees

New law implements strongest statewide restriction in the United States on neonicotinoid use
For Immediate Release

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Gov. Janet Mills signed the nation’s strongest restriction on bee-killing neonicotinoids (neonics) into law on Thursday. LD 155, sponsored by Rep. Nicole Grohoski of Ellsworth, prohibits the use of the most harmful neonic pesticides in residential landscapes. The bill won bipartisan support in the Maine State Legislature, which passed it on June 7.

Neonics are insecticides that affect the central nervous system and are highly toxic to invertebrates, including bees and butterflies. These systemic chemicals, when absorbed into a plant, contaminate nectar and pollen and remain in soil and groundwater long after they’re applied. A significant body of scientific evidence links neonic use to massive bee population losses, threatening not only honeybee colonies, but also Maine’s 270 species of native bees.

“There is no justification for using these pesticides for cosmetic purposes in our residential areas; a prettier lawn or rose garden isn’t worth the damage done,” said Anya Fetcher, Environment Maine state director. “We want to ensure that today, tomorrow and the next day, Maine’s meadows and gardens continue to buzz with the sound of bees. This bill boosts the odds of that, and we’re grateful.”  

Several other states have passed legislation restricting the use of neonics by residents and removing products containing the specified chemicals from store shelves. However, Maine’s bill goes even further by including licensed applicators such as landscapers, gardeners and pest control businesses in the ban.

In Maine and around the country, the declining health of pollinators such as honeybee and wild bees is cause for great concern, and can hint at broader environmental challenges that can affect all life in the area. Almost 90 percent of wild plants and 75 percent of all food crops need animal pollinators to some extent to thrive, and of all pollinators, bees are nature’s best

“I am thankful to my colleagues in the Legislature for supporting this measure,” said Rep. Grohoski. “Maine should be proud that, yet again, we are leaders in protecting and preserving our environment, including our pollinator populations.”

Support for protecting pollinators and significantly restricting the use of neonics is widespread in the state. Leading up to the bill’s passage, Environment Maine collected over 10,500 petition signatures asking state policymakers to support legislation to ban problematic uses of neonics. Additionally, more than 60 beekeeper, scientific, public health, farming and environmental organizations signed a letter in support of the legislation.

“Thousands of Mainers have voiced their support for a ban on these bee-killing pesticides, and the governor clearly took that to heart. We applaud Gov. Mills, Rep. Grohoski, who led the charge in the Legislature, and all the cosponsors for doing the work necessary to protect Maine’s bees and other pollinators,” concluded Fetcher.

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Environment Maine works for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the state put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Learn more at www.environmentmaine.org.