NJSC Submits Comments on DEP’s Proposed Pesticide Rule

NJSC Submits Comments on DEP’s Proposed Pesticide Rule

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection is proposing amendments, repeal and new rules in the Pesticide Control Code, N.J.A.C. 7:30. The Department’s rules must be at least as stringent as the Federal requirements; the Department may regulate the sale or use of pesticides, provided the Department does not allow any sale or use prohibited by FIFRA. The Department also proposes to amend the Agricultural Worker Protection provisions at N.J.A.C. 7:30-12 to ensure that the State’s requirements will be no less stringent than the Federal requirements. Today is the last day to submit comments.

“DEP’s proposal on pesticide control does not go far enough to protect workers or our environment from pesticides. We’re entering into an environmental crisis because of loss of bees and pesticides is the main factor. This has a dramatic impact on farming and the environment. Bees are dying in record numbers and hives are collapsing. If New Jersey really wants to help save wildlife and bees, we need to avoid using pesticides that are harmful to them,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “With this proposed rule, DEP is siding with the agricultural industry over protecting our ecosystem and bees.”

The Department also proposes to amend N.J.A.C. 7:30-11, Pesticide Grace Period. Regulations, to establish a penalty matrix and include a process for enforcement of the rules through an administrative process and provide for criminal prosecution of violations in accordance with the Environmental Enforcement Enhancement Act, P.L. 2007, c. 246, which amended the Act.

“This rule will have stinging consequences for New Jersey’s bee populations. DEP’s 24-hour spraying notice is not enough time for hives to get protected. There should also be warning signs and postings in the community well in advance of any spraying. We also recommend that spraying only be done at night, and never when it’s windy or rainy. We also need 500-foot buffer zones between colonies and any organic farms or streams. More importantly, there should be buffers where there are farms in urban areas to protect children playing at nearby playgrounds at school or near residential housing,” said Tittel.

The Environmental Protection Agency is pulling from the market a dozen products containing pesticides known to be toxic to the honeybee as part of a legal settlement. It has canceled the registrations of 12 pest-killing products with compounds belonging to a class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids. However EPA announced last month that the agency would not ban the dangerous pesticide but would continue to monitor the safety of chlorpyrifos through 2020.

“In order for New Jersey to protect our bees and our farm workers, New Jersey needs to immediately prohibit the use of insecticides called neonicotinoids, especially imidacloprid. These insecticides are not only harmful to human health, but are destroying our bee population who are critical to our ecosystem and food supply. These toxins have also posed a risk to other animals like birds,” said Tittel. “Without bees, many crops would cease to exist and will make human existence much harder.”

Maryland’s law that bans sale of products containing neonicotinoid began in 2018.  New Jersey still uses neonicotinoids, however there is legislation introduced, A4562(Calabrese) that directs DEP to classify neonicotinoid pesticides as restricted use pesticides.

““Bees are an important part of our ecosystem and play a crucial role in the pollination of our crops. However DEP’s rule does not go far enough to protect them. We are also concerned that the rule follows Federal regulations when the Trump Administration has made it clear that they don’t value environmental or wildlife protections or the agencies that regulate them.  DEP should be banning pesticides and instead educating workers and the public on spraying. Bees have been dying in record numbers and we’re concerned we could see bees go extinct. This would have devastating effects on ecosystems across the country but also on our food supply,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Bees are in dire trouble across the country and need more protection. The Murphy Administration and legislature need to work together to prohibit pesticide use and protect our bees.”

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