Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-231

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING POLLINATOR HEALTH.

Vote Date:

3/11/2016

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/4/2016

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

Representative Kim Rose, 118th District

Representative John “Jack” F. Hennessy, 127th District

REASONS FOR BILL:

Protects and preserves pollinator habitats and populations by restricting the use and labeling of neonicotinoid insecticides, while establishing a task force to study pollinator health. Critical to the state's ecosystem and food production, Connecticut's pollinator habitats have been declining for decades. It is believed that neonicotinoid insecticides are toxic to bees and are largely responsible for this decline due to their water solubility and presence in soil, as well as their systemic nature that allow them to enter every part of a plant.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE

-In line 5, removes the words “complete elimination” and rephrases the remainder of the sentence to focus on the minimization of airborne spread of neonicotinoid insecticide dust from treated seed and the mitigation of said dust's impact on pollinators.

-Adds five specific examples of best practices to the bill

-Redefines “neonicotinoid” by requiring a label including a bee advisory box as mandates by the EPA

-In section 3, specifies that the neonicotinoids in question must be labeled for treating plants

-In section 4, specifies that the neonicotinoids in question must be labeled for treating plants and limits application to when the plant bears blossom, instead of “actively blooming” in the original language. Removes a specific annual timeframe during which application would be prohibited as well as a provision stating that no person shall use neonicotinoids except for agricultural and horticultural uses.

-Strikes from the bill the original Sections 5 (Task Force establishment) and 6 (Neonicotinoid labeling).

-Mandates establishment of a Pollinator Advisory Committee within the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

-Strikes from the bill language in the original Sections 10 and 11pertaining to preference given for the acquisition of development rights

-Adds language mandating the addition of model pollinator habitats to certain conservation plans as they relate to the provisions of Sections 22-26cc and 22-26nn.

-Adds language mandating that the Department of Transportation identify areas where certain nonnative turf grasses be replaced with native plant communities that include pollinator habitats.

-Extends the deadline for development of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station's citizen's guide from August 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017.

-Requires the Connecticut Siting Council to include model pollinator habitats as part of its restoration or revegetation efforts to rights-of-way occupied by an overhead transmission facility.

-An amendment to the bill in Committee requires the Department of Transportation to plant vegetation that includes pollinator habitat in deforested areas along state highway rights-of-way

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Robert Klee, Commissioner – Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and Steven Reviczsky, Commissioner – Department of Agriculture: In their joint testimony, Commissioners Klee and Reviczsky expressed their understanding of the importance of pollinators to food production and overall ecological health. They express their support for the work and expertise of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, and encourage that CAES' findings be taken into consideration as the bill moves forward.

Changes Recommended

-Reexamine Section 2, given that the labels for the products in question already prohibit the use of neonicotinoids on linden and basswood trees.

-Consider amending the blanket ban on neonicotinoids during the blooming season to allow for their indoor use as pest control tools

These concerns were addressed in the substitute language

-Alleviate the administrative burden placed upon DEEP by Sections 4-7

The substitute language strikes Sections 5 and 6 from the bill and lessens some concerns by amending Section 4

-Examine the practical concerns with amending the state plan of conservation as mandated by Section 9

Dr. Kimberly Stoner, Associate Scientist – Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station: Dr. Stoner testified that over 75 percent of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators for reproduction, but that Connecticut has experienced losses of 50 percent or greater to its honey bee populations for the past several years. She added that several of the state's 14 species of bumble bees have either been lost or not seen in the state in recent years.

Changes Recommended

-Extend development of the CAES citizen's guide from August 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017

This concern was addressed in the substitute language

-Extend the planting of pollinator forage to roadways

This concern was addressed in the substitute language

-Limit the designation of “restricted use pesticides” to those that are a threat to bees

This concern was addressed in the substitute language

-Consider amending the blanket ban on neonicotinoids during the blooming season to allow for their indoor use as pest control tools

These concerns were addressed in the substitute language

Dr. Stoner's testimony was supported by the testimony of:

Dr. Richard Cowles – Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Jeff Cordulack, Executive Director – Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut

Margaret Miner, Executive Director – Rivers Alliance of Connecticut

Additional Changes Recommended by Dr. Cowles

-Redefine “neonicotinoid” to avoid banning insecticides that should not fall under the purview of this bill

These concerns were addressed in the substitute language

-Ensure that the bill's classification of neonicotinoids pertains only to those that are used to treat plants

These concerns were addressed in the substitute language

-Ensure that neonicotinoids classified as “restricted use products” under the bill include the bee advisory box label

These concerns were addressed in the substitute language

-Delete Section 6 from the bill

These concerns were addressed in the substitute language

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Representative Mitch Bolinsky, 106th District: In his testimony, Representative Bolinsky called the bill a “much needed measure” to protect native pollinator populations in Connecticut. He added that the systemic nature of neonicotinoids – as well as their water solubility, pervasiveness and persistence in soil – also threaten birds, other insects, and water resources.

Chris Phelps, State Director – Environment Connecticut: In his testimony, Mr. Phelps stated that neonicotinoids pose a risk to bee hives when it comes in contact with crops that attract pollinators. He added that “existing evidence suggests that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned at the state and federal level.”

Changes Recommended

-Expand the list of specifically prohibited applications beyond linden and basswood trees

-Ban agricultural and horticultural applications in addition to the ban during the blooming season

-Alter the composition of the task force in Section 5

The substitute language strikes Section 5 from the bill

-Expand the labeling prohibition in Section 6 to include a requirement for a pollinator health warning

The substitute language strikes Section 6 from the bill

Dan Gregory, Farm Manager – Grow Hartford: Mr. Gregory testified that the bill provides a “common sense approach to pollinator health and is necessary for the preservation of Connecticut agriculture.” He added that limiting the use of neonicotinoids during the blooming season would help protect bees against “harmful pesticides.”

Darryl Newman, Legislative Co-Chair – Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association: In his testimony, Mr. Newman thanked the Environment Committee for putting forth “sensible legislation regarding pollinators.”

Changes Recommended

-Strike the text of the bill except for the section creating a task force, and structure the task force so that all impacted constituents have a voice in the process

-Should the bill remain as drafted, amend the definitions of “plants” and “horticultural uses” in Section 4 to include “turf when applied by an appropriately DEEP licensed professional with a 3-A applicators license.”

Mr. Newman's recommendation about striking the bill except for the task force was supported by the testimony of Henry Talmage, Executive Director – Connecticut Farm Bureau Association

John Chunis, Licensed Arborist and Rocky Hill Resident: In his testimony, Mr. Chunis focused on the improper use of insecticides by non-licensed applicators and the negative repercussions of these actions. He stated his support for classifying neonicotinoids as Restricted Use pesticides, as this would still allow professional applicators to use them appropriately.

Changes Recommended

-Define “agricultural use” and horticultural use” to avoid confusion

These concerns were addressed in the substitute language

-In Section 5, strike numbers (1) and (7) in subsection (a), and include two members from the insecticide industry in subsection (b)

The substitute language strikes Section 5 from the bill

Lori Brown, Executive Director – Connecticut League of Conservation Voters: Ms. Brown testified that “bees dying in record numbers in Connecticut and throughout the country.” She added that neonicotinoids also pose a significant threat to aquatic life in addition to bees.

Changes Recommended

-In Section 2, require a scientific process to determine other plants that are supportive of pollinator species aside from bees so these species can also be protected

-Define “agricultural use” and horticultural use” in Section 4

These concerns were addressed in the substitute language

-Amend the task force in Section 5 to include experts with scientific or professional expertise related to issues impacting pollinators and non-toxic land management

The substitute language strikes Section 5 from the bill

Ms. Brown's testimony and her recommended changes were similar or identical to those expressed by Louis Burch – Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Additional Changes Recommended by Mr. Burch

-Expand neonicotinoid restrictions beyond the “blooming season” defined in Section 4 due to many plants possessing irregular blooming cycles

This concern was addressed in the substitute language

Martin Mador, Legislative Chair – Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter: In his testimony, Mr. Mador argues that “restricting the application of neonicotinoid pesticides is clearly necessary.” He then explains how a guide called the “Precautionary Principle,” which has been largely applied in the European Union but not to the same extent in the United States, can provide governments with a roadmap on when to take action on certain eventualities.

Changes Recommended

-Expand the task force in Section 5 to include knowledgeable scientific experts and advocates

The substitute language strikes Section 5 from the bill

Nancy Alderman, President – Environment and Human Health Inc.: Ms. Alderman stated that the systemic nature of neonicotinoids allows them to enter every part of plants and thus pose a particular threat to bees. She added that the bill will help fulfill a federal request for each state to take action to protect bees given their vital role in food production.

Patrick Comins, Director of Bird Conservation – Audubon Connecticut: Mr. Comins focused his testimony on the need to provide migrating birds with adequate food supply in the form of insects due to the fact that “habitats that support pollinators offer important foraging habitat.” He adds that banning neonicotinoids will benefit these insects and thus will allow birds the protein needed to reach their wintering grounds.

Protect Our Pollinators: The group's testimony was largely supportive of the bill due to the fact that Connecticut pollinator habitats have been “in decline for decades.” The group refers to neonicotinoids as “toxic to bees” and “one of the major factors in pollinator decline.”

Changes Recommended

-Remove exemptions for agricultural and horticultural applications in Section 4

This concern was addressed in the substitute language

-Amend Section 6 to read “Any nursery plant, seed or seedling that has been treated with neonicotinoids must be labeled as harmful to pollinators.”

The substitute language strikes Section 6 from the bill

Ron Pitz, Executive Director – Knox Inc.: Mr. Pitz stated his “full support” for addressing the negative effects of neonicotinoids on pollinators. He further argued that there are less toxic ways for residents to care for their laws, and recommended that homeowners can also help by planting pollinator gardens on their property.

John Campanelli, Graduate Student – University of Connecticut in the Department of Plant Science: In his testimony, Mr. Campanelli explained his research on restoring pollinator habitats along New England roadsides by replacing cool-season turf grasses with native plant installations. He described this practice as a valuable ecosystem service since roadside pollinator habitats provide “corridors by which pollinators can migrate.”

Changes Recommended

-Incorporate the creation of roadside pollinator habitats through the planting of native vegetation in place of turf grasses into the bill's language

This concern was addressed in the substitute language

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Connecticut Association of School Business Officials: In their testimony, CASBO states that there is “nothing to be gained by a bill targeting the use of neonicotinoid insecticides” due to their belief that other factors are mostly responsible for declines in bee populations. They offered their support for formation of an independent task force to study the issue.

The main points in CASBO's testimony were largely supported by the testimony of Mike Wallace, President – Connecticut Environmental Council

Emilio Polce, President – Connecticut Pest Control Association: In his testimony, Mr. Polce states that neonicotinoids are vital tools for the treatment of indoor pests such as bed bugs, termites and cockroaches. He adds that a blanket ban will jeopardize the health and safety of Connecticut residents.

Other individuals who submitted testimony expressing similar or identical concerns to Mr. Polce's include:

Heather Millette – Millette Pest Control

Jeff Millette – Millette Pest Control

The majority of Mr. Polce's concerns were addressed in the substitute language

Kristin Power, Vice President of State Affairs – Consumer Specialty Products Association: Ms. Power stated that most scientific evidence demonstrates “no correlation between bee health and the use of neonicotinoids.” She adds that neonicotinoids are largely beneficial for indoor and outdoor use against pests and invasive species.

Ms. Power's concerns about indoor use restrictions were addressed in the substitute language

William Hesbach, Beekeeper – Wing Dance Apiary LLC: Mr. Hesbach stated that there is “no science” that identifies neonicotinoids as a significant problem and that environmental toxins minimally impact the health of bees. He added that the best way to protect bees would be saving the position of the State Bee Inspector.

Susan Pronovost, Executive Director – Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association: In her testimony, Ms. Pronovost states that there is “currently no conclusive scientific proof” that positively identifies neonicotinoids as a “singular detriment to pollinator health.” She added that older pesticide technology may not be effective against certain types of pests, and requested that the environmental and economic impacts of using alternative pesticides be weighed before action is taken.

Reported by: Jared Savas

Date: 3/18/16