Beekeeper claims EPA violated law approving insecticides
A Minnesota beekeeper is claiming a partial victory in a federal lawsuit over the regulation of a common insecticide.
Last week, a federal judge in California ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency violated the federal Endangered Species Act when it approved dozens of neonicotinoid insecticide products.
Steve Ellis of northeast Minnesota is the lead plaintiff of suit, which claims the EPA approved products containing neonicotinoid insecticide without adequately considering harm to bees and endangered species.
Center for Food Safety attorney Peter Jenkins said the judge will now consider if she should suspend some of the products registered a decade ago.
"They should have recognized potential effects on threatened and endangered butterflies, insects, invertebrates, fish and consulted with the expert agencies and determined what the effects were. But EPA didn't do that," said Jenkins.
The lawsuit was filed in 2013 and Jenkins said there is now additional evidence of harm to endangered species.
"Since we started this case, there've been three different insects that have been listed where the Fish and Wildlife Service identified neonic insecticides as contributing factors in the listing of the species," said Jenkins.
Those endangered insects include two Minnesota butterflies, the Dakota Skipper and the Poweshiek Skipperling, as well as recently-listed rusty patched bumblebee.
• Minnesota mystery: Where are the prairie butterflies?
The EPA did not respond to a request for comment.
Jenkins said it will likely take a few months to reach a final resolution in the case.
-Dan Gunderson, Moorehead, Minn, May 9, 2017
Urge your legislators and Governor Dayton to support pollinator and human health.
Some members of Minnesota House and Senate are stalling key pollinator protections and trying to gut Minnesota pesticide law which helps to protect pollinators. Please join us in calling Governor Dayton to stand strong for pollinators and veto rollbacks on pesticide laws.
While honey bees, native bees and butterflies are in decline nationwide, Minnesota has become a leader in protection for these critical pollinators. A two-year study from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) found that commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides are a key part of the problem — and both the governor and MDA are taking action.
But necessary pieces of pollinator protection require legislative action. And instead of taking a stand for pollinators, some elected officials are pushing to gut pesticide rules.
With the House and Senate poised to pass along bad legislation for Governor Dayton’s signature, we need your help to make sure he stands strong on his commitment to healthy pollinators and communities across the state. See more here.
Please call Governor Dayton's office 651-201-3400: "I urge you to reject bills that gut pesticide rules and pollinator protections. We care about pollinator and human health."
2017 Pollinator Friendly Calendar
5/20: PFA at Belwin Conservancy. 11 AM-12:30 PM. Herd of 40 bison at restored prairie in Afton with family-friendly activities to learn about the prairie and conservation.
6/3/2017: 10 AM - 1 PM. Pollinator Friendly Alliance - Pollinator Park Garden Party. Demonstrations by Claudia Morgan, professional gardener and landscaper with Gardenside plus master beekeepers. Come join us -- bee a steward at the Pollinator Park flower garden by helping us groom, plant and weed the pollinator flower garden. Corner of Laurel Street West and Owen Street North, 517 Owen Street North, Stillwater. Refreshments provided, bring your garden trowel.
9/10/2017: noon-6PM Polli*NATION Festival - Pollinator party of the year. Mark your calendars. Music, art, food trucks, performance, beer, games, bands, and a whole lotta pollinator goings on. Kissing Birch Farm, Stillwater.
In 2013 the Xerces Society petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as an endangered species. Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is proposing to list the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. This is a huge victory for bumble bee conservation.
The rusty patched bumble bee was once widespread, has precipitously declined from 9/10ths of its range, and has at least two threats for which existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect them, the widespread use of toxic insecticides whose toxicity to native bees were not adequately considered in the pesticide approval process and the distribution of commercial bumble bees within the range of the rusty patched bumble bee that are not required to be free of pathogens. Listing the rusty patched bumble bee under the ESA will require that its needs be considered when federal actions—like the registration of new pesticides—are taken. In addition, protecting this bee from threats of disease, pesticide, and habitat loss, may also help many of the other 3,600 species of native bees that exist on the American landscape.
MINNESOTA FIRST FOR POLLINATORS
On August 26th, 2016, Governor Dayton made Minnesota first with the recent EXECUTIVE ORDER TO PROTECT POLLINATORS. It's great news for our pollinators and environment too. The order includes: 1) Restrictions on bee-harming neonic and systemic pesticides including agricultural use; 2) Pollinator habitat restoration; 3) Development of an inter-agency committee to improve pollinator protection.
BUT THE POLLINATOR PROTECTION ORDER IS BEING THREATENED. Here's what you can do to help: Call Governor Dayton 651-201-3400 and Agriculture Commissioner Frederickson 651-201-6219 and tell them "We support the pollinator executive order for more pollinator protection and less pesticide use".
READ THE ORIGINAL SCOPING DOCUMENT AND PROPOSED RESTRICTIONS HERE
“...Minnesota set the strongest rules in the nation to protect pollinators from pesticides,” said Lex Horan of Pesticide Action Network. “The plan will help ensure that bee-harming pesticides won’t be used unnecessarily, and it lays the groundwork for reducing the use of neonicotinoid seed coatings. This decision is rooted in the resounding scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are harmful to pollinators. It’s past time for state and federal decisionmakers to take action to restrict the use of bee-harming pesticides, and today Minnesota did just that.”
Unfortunately, MDA’s restriction on neonicotinoids does not apply to all uses of the insecticides in the state, thanks to a federal loophole that exempts seed coatings from being classified as a “pesticide application” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In his announcement today, Governor Dayton called on the state legislature to close the loophole on seed coatings by authorizing MDA to provide much-needed oversight. Nationwide, about 94 percent of corn seed, and 33-50 percent of soybean seed, is coated with neonicotinoids before being planted. Additionally, nearly all corn and about 20% of soy seeds are treated outside Minnesota and not tracked by the MDA, furthering pollinator decline. Though corn and soy are major Minnesota crops, neonicotinoid-coated seeds grown in the state will be excluded from the state’s new policies unless the legislature takes action. In January 2016, beekeepers, farmers and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against EPA for failing to adequately oversee the widespread use of neonicotinoid seed coatings — the most common application of these bee-harming pesticides.
SEPT. 10, 2017-POLLI*NATION Festival
If you were lucky enough to spend the absolute most beautiful fall day on the farmy Stillwater festival grounds, you can relive a bit below. Join us this year for an even bigger and better festival with bands, craft beer, mead and honey tastings, giant bee art, science, live bees, games, surprise guests and more. Tickets available July, 2017.