Gov. Murphy signs legislation to limit applications of bee-killing pesticides

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The Garden State is the sixth state to end such uses of neonics

Environment America

TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation (S1016/A2070) Tuesday that classifies neonicotinoid insecticides, also known as neonics, as restricted-use pesticides. New Jersey is the sixth state to adopt this save-the-bees policy, which limits non-agricultural uses of neonics. 

Environment New Jersey and its national partner Environment America have been leaders in New Jersey and states across the United States in calling for limits on neonics use. Last summer, Environment New Jersey canvassed neighborhoods across the state to educate New Jerseyans about neonics’ role in the plight of bees and to advocate for a restricted use ban.

“By embracing this bill, we are taking some of the sting out of an increasingly toxic environment for bees,” said Doug O’Malley, state director of Environment New Jersey. “We can now promise our pollinators a safer Garden State when they return in the spring.” 

New Jersey’s legislation limits pesticide applications in non-agricultural settings such as gardens, lawns and golf courses, which are the primary places the pesticides are used in the state. Connecticut, Maryland and Vermont were the first states to implement similar restrictions on neonics; then Massachusetts and Maine did so in 2021. 

Neonics are neurotoxic pesticides that have been demonstrated to harm pollinators at levels found in the environment and are linked to bee population declines. Neonics can kill bees or impair their ability to fend off disease, forage for food or survive the winter. Neonics also negatively affect the iconic monarch butterfly and songbirds.

“We thank Governor Murphy for signing this key piece of legislation, which has the ability to alter the course of bee die-offs that are all too common,” O’Malley said. “We also extend our appreciation to the bill’s lead sponsor, Assemblymember Clinton Calabrese, for his leadership to pass this important legislation.”

The bill’s signing comes eight days after the New Jersey General Assembly passed the bill, which builds on federal efforts to protect pollinators. Namely, the federal infrastructure bill, which went into law in November, provides $2 million in annual grants to states and tribes for pollinator habitat along roadsides. 

“New Jersey is carrying the bee-saving baton forward in the relay to protect our pollinators with this final step to limit uses of neonics,” said Malia Libby, Save the Bees conservation associate for Environment America. “With a third state to complete such a policy in the past year alone, and new federal funding for habitat, we’re building momentum across the country to do right by our pollinators. We’ll be urging more states to follow suit by joining New Jersey in putting pollinators over pesticides.”