Statement: California governor vetoes ‘save the bees’ bill, suggests reform should still happen

Media Contacts
Ben Grundy

Former Conservation Campaign Associate, Environment California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation (AB 2146) on Wednesday to ban most non-agricultural uses of the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, commonly known as neonics. The bill had received bipartisan support from the California Legislature and would have made California the largest state to implement restrictions on non-agricultural uses of neonics.

At levels often found in the environment, research has shown that neonics affect bees’ brain and reproductive development, make pollen-collecting trips longer and more exhausting, and prevent bees from ridding themselves of parasitic varroa mites. A sizable and growing body of research reveals that neonics’ extraordinary toxicity and pervasiveness in the environment also harms and kills other pollinators and threatens native plants and valuable crops that depend on insect pollination. 

Additionally, because neonics are systemic pesticides, local bodies of water become contaminated from urban or agricultural runoff. Samples from 58% of Northern California and 92% of Southern California urban waterways contained the neonic imidacloprid. Environment California’s interactive imidacloprid map highlights the locations where the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) collected water samples contaminated with neonics.

In his veto message, Gov. Newsom called for new rules at DPR to address both agricultural and non-agricultural uses of neonics in California: “The department is finalizing regulations on the agricultural use of neonicotinoids and will begin the process of evaluating non-agricultural uses next year.”

If DPR implements the restrictions proposed by AB 2146, California would join a growing number of states that have implemented similar restrictions on neonics. Those states are Connecticut, Maryland, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. The California bill would have banned neonics on most lawns, gardens and golf courses, with exceptions for combating invasive pests and other specified cases.

In response to the Governor’s veto, Laura Deehan, state director of Environment California, issued the following statement: 

“We are disappointed that the governor chose to veto this bill to save the bees. The reality is that California needs to move with urgency to protect our pollinators. Other states have acted in a similar fashion, and California was poised to be the eighth to do so.

“The silver lining here is that in his veto message, the governor calls on his Department of Pesticide Regulation to issue rules in the coming year to address non-agricultural uses of neonics. Of course that lining assumes the rules will be well-crafted and have teeth. Our advocacy for pollinators will continue until the necessary protections are in place.

“We came close, and we may still get a victory for the bees in the coming year. I want to thank California lawmakers for passing this bipartisan legislation and the bill’s author, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, for working tirelessly on the bill.”  


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