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Control over pesticide bans could be returned to local governments

Minnesota cities could prevent residents and businesses from using certain pesticides, a move environmental advocates say could help protect pollinators.

Sponsored by Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL-Brooklyn Center), HF718 would allow cities to pass ordinances banning pesticides that are lethal to bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

State law has preempted cities from enacting such bans for over 30 years.

Cities couldn't ban pet care and indoor pest-control products or products used to mitigate lice and bedbugs.

The bill on Tuesday was approved as amended by the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee by a 17-2 vote and sent to the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee. It has no Senate companion.

Pesticides used to kill weeds and keep insects and other animals away from crops and plants can be toxic to pollinators and can contaminate water and other natural resources.

In Minnesota, 50 cities have passed resolutions pledging to remove pesticides that kill pollinators, according to the Pollinator Friendly Alliance. Advocates say cities should have the choice to enact such bans.

Vang's bill would require the Department of Agriculture to maintain a list of pollinator-lethal pesticides on its website. The department estimates that creating and maintaining the list could cost over $250,000 through June 2025, because more than 3,600 chemicals would need to be reviewed.

Assistant Commissioner Whitney Place said potentially banned chemicals can be needed to control wasps and invasive species like emerald ash borer.

Opponents of the bill, including a trade group for Minnesota pest-control companies, say pesticides are adequately regulated by the state and federal government.

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