Bad news for bees

Portland’s pesticide task force just rejected a ban on synthetic and bee-killing pesticides. We need to convince the city council to step up.

Monday night, the Portland Pesticide Task Force completed its work without even allowing a vote on a strong synthetic and bee-killing pesticide ban like South Portland has.[1]

Sadly, this is exactly what we expected. That’s because, believe it or not, the task force included four pesticide industry representatives and not a single doctor, nurse, or expert who practices organic land care.

Instead, the task force recommended a policy that would do literally nothing about pesticides in gardens, trees, shrubs, sidewalks, parks, or trails.[2] It would put pesticide industry representatives directly on the oversight committee charged with enforcing the ordinance and allow spraying anywhere in so-called “emergency” cases.[3] (What constitutes a weed emergency? Your guess is as good as ours.)

This plan falls far short of what’s needed to protect bees, our health, and Casco Bay. That’s why task force member Avery Yale Kamila voted no–but the fight is not over.

The next step is the City Council’s Sustainability Committee.

Will you email Sustainability Committee members Jill Duson and Belinda Ray and urge them to reject the weak task force plan and instead adopt South Portland’s organic land care ordinance?

Click here to send an email to Jill and Belinda.

South Portland and Ogunquit have already passed organic land care ordinances that restrict synthetic and bee-killing pesticides. Environmental, organic, and public health advocates–including MOFGA, Toxics Action Center, the Maine chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Peaks Island Council, Portland Protectors, and the Sierra Club–urged Portland to do the same.[4,5]

But because the task force was asked to agree on a “consensus policy,” the pesticide industry effectively had a veto over anything they didn’t like. According to task force member Avery Yale Kamila, one of the strongest voices on the task force was Deven Morrill, who works for Lucas Tree, a huge pesticides applicator in Maine, and is also the LePage-appointed chair of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control.[6]

You might be wondering, why are pesticide industry representatives with clear conflicts of interest even allowed to vote in a policy-making task force? That’s a good question. If Donald Trump or Paul LePage did something like that, Maine Democrats would be apoplectic.

Portland is better than this–but we can still fix it. In fact, Councilor Ray told Portland Protectors when she was running for election that she supported their position 100 percent.[7]

Will you email Sustainability Committee members Jill Duson and Belinda Ray and urge them to reject the weak task force plan and instead adopt South Portland’s organic land care ordinance?

Click here to send an email to Jill and Belinda.

–Bill, Karin, Marena, Michael, Pat, Steven and the rest of the Progressive Portland team

P.S. The reason we’re not urging you to contact Spencer Thibodeau, the chair of the Sustainability Committee, is because he has chosen to recuse himself due to conflicts of interest through his law firm.