TRENTON, N.J. -- The New Jersey Assembly passed legislation (A2070) by a 54-22 vote on Monday to classify bee-killing neonicotinoids, also known as neonics, as restricted use pesticides. If Gov. Phil Murphy signs the measure, New Jersey will become the sixth state to adopt this type of save-the-bees policy. Environment New Jersey and its national partner Environment America have been leaders of several save-the-bees coalitions in New Jersey and across the United States, and Environment New Jersey canvassed neighborhoods last summer to educate New Jerseyans about the plight of bees.
“By passing 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.”
Connecticut, Maryland and Vermont were the first states to implement similar restrictions on neonics; then Massachusetts and Maine did so in 2021. The 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 New Jersey.
These neurotoxic pesticides have been demonstrated to harm pollinators and are linked to bee population declines. Neonics can kill bees or impair their ability to fend off disease, navigate back home or survive the winter. Neonics also negatively affect the iconic monarch butterfly and songbirds.
“We thank the Assembly and the bill’s lead sponsor, Assemblymember Clinton Calabrese, for their efforts to pass this important legislation. Now, we look forward to Gov. Murphy signing the bill,” O’Malley said.
The vote in the Assembly comes on the heels of new federal funding for bees and other pollinators. The federal infrastructure bill, which went into law in November, provides $2 million in annual grants to the states and tribes for pollinator habitat along roadsides.
“The New Jersey Legislature has created a new buzz with its passage of this bee-saving bill. With this and other recently-passed state laws and new federal funding for bee habitats, it feels like we’re finally getting serious about saving the bees,” said Malia Libby, Save the Bees conservation associate for Environment America. “It’s a great way to start the New Year.”