Maine House and Senate vote to advance bill to protect bees

The measure would limit the use of certain neonicotinoid pesticides
For Immediate Release

AUGUSTA -- Both the Maine House and Senate voted Wednesday to advance a measure that would prohibit the use of certain neonicotinoids (neonics) for outdoor residential use. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nicole Grohoski (Ellsworth), passed by a bipartisan 92-53 vote in the House and 27-7 in the Senate. While this is a clear signal that the bill has the backing to become law, the measure will face additional votes in the House and Senate before reaching the governor’s desk.

Neonics are a class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system and are highly toxic to invertebrates, such as bees and butterflies. They are systemic chemicals, meaning when they are absorbed into a plant, they become available in nectar and pollen and remain in soil and groundwater long after they’re applied.

If signed into law, LD 155 would prohibit the four most harmful neonics -- whether they’re used by residents or licensed applicators -- for non-essential purposes in residential landscapes. An exception would be made if the use was required to safeguard public health or to manage emerging invasive species.

“Given that a significant body of evidence now links neonic use to massive bee population losses, there is no justification for the use of these pesticides for cosmetic purposes in our residential areas; a prettier lawn or rose garden doesn’t cut it,” said Anya Fetcher, Environment Maine state director. “Thousands of Mainers have voiced their support for a ban on bee-killing pesticides, and today’s bipartisan House vote reflects that. We applaud Rep. Grohoski and leaders in the Senate for doing the work necessary to protect Maine’s bees and other pollinators.”

In Maine and around the country, the declining health of pollinators, such as honeybee and wild bees, is cause for great concern. During the winter of 2019-20, Maine beekeepers reported losing 41 percent of their colonies. Additionally, more than half of all native bee populations are in decline, including some of Maine’s 270 native bee species. Bee populations in decline hint at environmental challenges that can affect all life in the area.

“Neonicotinoids have been proven to negatively impact the health of pollinators, thus jeopardizing the viability of so many of our favorite foods and flowers,” Rep. Grohoski said. “I am proud of the Maine House for voting to advance LD 155 to limit unnecessary uses of these chemicals. The passage of this legislation would be a critical step forward to protect our environment and hard-working pollinators.”

Support for protecting pollinators and significantly restricting the use of neonics is widespread. More than 10,200 Maine residents have signed a petition asking state policymakers to support legislation to ban problematic uses of neonics in Maine. A coalition of more than 60 beekeeper, scientific, public health, farming and environmental organizations have signed a letter in support of this legislation. 

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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. Click here to learn more about LD 155-B.