The state is moving to ban the use of a pesticide linked to potential harmful effects in humans, a step considered but ultimately rejected by the Trump administration.
Under legislation to be taken up by the Senate Environment and Energy committee today, the use of chlorpyrifos (CPS) would be prohibited in New Jersey, seven months after the bill (S-3405) is enacted.
CPS, widely used on a variety of crops like apples, grapes, and soybeans, is now a restricted-use insecticide in New Jersey, which means it can only be purchased and used by certified and licensed pesticide applicators.
At the end of the Obama administration, scientists at the federal Environmental Protection Agency recommended the product be banned, but Scott Pruitt, the new administrator reversed the decision.
Pruitt cited uncertainty about the neurodevelopmental-effects of early life exposure to the pesticide. Manufacturers voluntarily phased the compound out of residential use in 2001 under an agreement with the EPA.
In moving to prohibit its use in New Jersey, lawmakers are taking issue once again with a rollback in environmental protections initiated by the Trump administration, a confrontation likely to occur more frequently with the inauguration next month of Democratic Gov.-elect Phil Murphy.
The state legislation already cleared the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee this past May, where it drew opposition from the New Jersey Farm Bureau, which called CPS a valuable tool in crop production.
Chlorpyrifos, manufactured by Dow Agrosciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemicals, is effective against a wide range of insects harmful to crops.
This past May, shortly after the EPA backed off banning the insecticide, dozens of farmworkers in California became sick after it was sprayed on an orchard and drifted into a field where they were working.