The Trump administration rejected a ban of a controversial pesticide earlier this spring, but if a bill in New Jersey wins passage, use of the chemical would be banned in the state.
The Assembly Solid Waste and Environment Committee is scheduled to consider legislation (A-4794) today to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide environmental groups have been trying to ban for a decade.
During the Obama administration, scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended taking chlorpyrifos off the market, but the new agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, rejected a petition to ban its ongoing use in agriculture in March.
The move to ban its use in New Jersey is endorsed by some environmentalists who see it as sending a message to the Trump administration that the state will not stand by idly as the new administration rolls back protections for the environment and human health.
“We’re glad to see our state legislators standing up to Trump and working to protect the people of New Jersey by banning this pesticide from being used here,’’ said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
The compound is a widely used insecticide that has been employed on a variety of crops like apples, grapes, and soybeans for decades. Numerous studies have shown it can cause developmental problems in children, as well as nausea and other ailments in adults.
Earlier this month, dozens of farmworkers in California became sick, suffering dizziness and vomiting after the pesticide sprayed on an orchard drifted into a field where they were working.
In deciding not to ban the compound, Pruitt cited uncertainty about the neurodevelopmental effects of early-life exposure to the pesticide. Manufacturers voluntarily phased out residential use of the compound in 2001 under an agreement with the agency.
Assemblyman Tim Eustace, a Bergen County Democrat, who is chairman of the committee, only recently introduced the bill. As of last night, it still was not available from the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services website.
Chlorpyrifos, manufactured by Dow Agrosciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemicals, is effective against mosquitoes, cockroaches, and fire ants. It was first registered in 1965.