Senator Dill, Representative Hickman, and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, my name is Sarah Nichols and I am the Sustainable Maine Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I appreciate this opportunity to testify in support of LD 2083.
NRCM is supporting this bill because we believe that it would help to protect citizens, pollinators, wildlife, and waters—which are all so critical to our health, quality of life, and economic prosperity—from the effects of unnecessary pesticide application and runoff.
According to MRSA 22 §1471-X, which was passed into law in 1997, “It is the policy of the State to work to find ways to use the minimum amount of pesticides needed to effectively control targeted pests in all areas of application.” Unfortunately, the years following the adoption of this policy saw what could aptly be classified as an explosion of pesticide distribution in Maine. According to data from the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, during the period from 1995 to 2011, the amount of pesticides distributed in Maine increased by 700% from 600,000 pounds to more than 5.7 million.
In light of this information, we believe that it’s a failing of the State to not test, track, and evaluate the effects of pesticide use on our environment. We can’t manage what we can’t measure. LD 2083 would provide for this data. We need to get a better understanding of which pesticides should have restricted use in Maine.
Further, municipalities all over the state are trying to take action on their own and are working to pass local ordinances designed to limit pesticide application in their communities because they feel that they are not getting the protection and support of the State government. This law would greatly help our communities that are struggling to find the information and support they need to make informed decisions, while also applying a statewide standard that will protect them.
NRCM finds that LD 2083 is an evidence-based, elegant approach to limiting the use of certain pesticides that are causing harm to Maine’s environment. It allows for exemptions in the case of harmful invasive species, and appropriately begins with restricting use in residential applications—which is much less restrictive than an outright ban of these chemicals. We urge you to join us in support of this bill.