Summary: Pollinator Protection Act limits the use of toxic, bee-killing pesticides and directs of study of such pesticides.
[Bill drafting note: The following is based on SB 198 as amended and passed by the Maryland State Senate, and the findings rely heavily on a policy summary from the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club.]
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE
This Act shall be called “The Pollinator Protection Act.”
SECTION 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE
(A) FINDINGS—The legislature finds that:
1) Beekeepers have reported average hive losses of 30 percent or higher each year since 2006 and as of [Insert year], our state has reported [insert percentage of hive losses here]—this is not sustainable.
2) Studies confirm that toxic neonicotinoid pesticides (also known as neonics) contribute to honey bee mortality, as well as to declines in native pollinators, birds and aquatic life. In addition to killing bees outright, even low levels of these toxic pesticides impair bees’ ability to learn, find their way back to the hive, collect food, produce new queens and mount an effective immune response.
3) Bees pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that make up 90 percent of the world’s food supply. Many fruits and vegetables, including apples, blueberries, strawberries, carrots and broccoli, as well as almonds and coffee, rely on bees.
4) More than half of “bee-friendly” plants purchased at Home Depot, Walmart and Lowes stores in 18 cities across the U.S. and Canada had levels of neonicotinoids at sufficient levels to kill bees outright, according to a 2014 Friends of the Earth study.
5) Neonics also pose a risk to human health; they can impair the developing nervous system and cause brain damage in children, affect ovaries and hormonal balance, and cause cell mutations.
6) Neonics also threaten aquatic life and have been linked to death of molting blue crabs and declines in macroinvertebrates. A recent USGS study found neonics were widespread in Midwestern streams at levels toxic to aquatic life.
(B) PURPOSE—This law is enacted to protect the health and safety of citizens by limiting the use of pesticides that are harmful to bees, humans and the environment.
SECTION 3. POLLINATOR PROTECTION
After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:
(A) DEFINITIONS—In this section:
1) “Certified applicator” means a person who is certified by as a pesticide applicator under [insert section of state law].
2) “Department” means the state Department of Agriculture.
3) “Restricted use pesticide” means a pesticide so classified by the provisions in this section or by the state or Department of Agriculture or the federal government.
4) “Neonicotinoid pesticide” means any pesticide containing a chemical belonging to the neonicotinoid class of chemicals, including:
g) Thiamethoxam; and
h) Any other chemical designated by the Department as belonging to the neonicotinoid class of chemicals.
(B) POLLINATOR PROTECTION
1) On or after XXXX 1, 2017, a person may not sell at retail any neonicotinoid pesticide unless the person also sells a restricted use pesticide, as defined in [insert section of state law].
2) On or after XXXX 1, 2017, a person may not use a neonicotinoid pesticide unless the person is:
a) A certified applicator or a person working under the supervision of a certified applicator, as defined in [insert section of state law];
b) A farmer, or a person working under the supervision of a farmer, who uses the pesticide for agricultural purposes, including crop production, livestock, poultry, equine, and non-crop agricultural fields or;
c) A veterinarian licensed under [insert section of state law].
3) This subsection does not apply to:
a) Pet care products used to mitigate fleas, mites, ticks, heartworms, or other animals that are harmful to the health of a domesticated animal;
b) Personal care products used to mitigate lice and bedbugs; and
c) Indoor pest control products used to mitigate insects indoors, including ant bait.
(C) DEPARTMENT STUDY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
1) The department shall incorporate pollinator habit expansion and enhancement practices into the state’s managed pollinator protection plan developed in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
2) Upon completion of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s pollinator risk assessment of the neonicotinoid pesticides imidacloprid, clothiandin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, the Department shall review the state’s pesticide laws and regulations and make recommendations for any changes necessary to ensure that state laws and regulations are consistent with the EPA’s recommendations.
3) Within six months of the EPA’s completed pollinator risk assessment of neonicotinoid pesticides, the Department shall report its findings and recommendations to the governor and, in accordance with section X of the state government article.
(D) ENFORCEMENT—A person who violates this subtitle is subject to a civil penalty of $XXX.
SECTION 4. EFFECTIVE DATE
This Act shall take effect on XXXX 1, 2016.