AB-2062 State highways: landscaping. (2017-2018)

AB-2062 State highways: landscaping. (2017-2018)

AMENDED IN SENATE  APRIL 30, 2018

AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY   MARCH 12, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE - 2017-2018 REGULAR SESSION

ASSEMBLY BILL

Introduced by Assembly Member Maienschein
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Acosta, Friedman, Gallagher, and Lackey

February 07, 2018

An act to amend Section 92.3 of the Streets and Highways Code, relating to state highways.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

AB 2062, as amended, Maienschein. State highways: landscaping.

Existing law provides that the Department of Transportation has full possession and control of all state highways and associated property, and sets forth the powers and duties of the department with respect to the operation, maintenance, and improvement of state highways. Existing law authorizes the department to enter into an agreement to accept funds, materials, equipment, or services from any person for maintenance or roadside enhancement of a section of a state highway. Existing law requires the department to discontinue further water intensive freeway landscaping and to use drought resistant landscaping whenever feasible, taking into consideration specified factors.

This bill would require planting projects undertaken or approved by the department to include, when appropriate, appropriate and consistent with integrated pest management strategies, California native wildflowers and native and climate-appropriate vegetation as an integral and permanent part of the planting design, with priority given to those species of wildflower and native and climate-appropriate vegetation that will help rebuild pollinator populations.

DIGEST KEY

Vote: majority   Appropriation: no   Fiscal Committee: yes   Local Program: no  


BILL TEXT

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.

 Section 92.3 of the Streets and Highways Code is amended to read:

92.3.

 (a) The department shall do both of the following:

(1) Discontinue further water intensive freeway landscaping and use drought resistant landscaping whenever feasible, taking into consideration such factors as erosion control and fire retardant needs.

(2) Eliminate any dependency on imported water for landscaping as soon as practicable.

(b) The department shall require the use of recycled water for the irrigation of freeway landscaping when it finds and determines that all of the following conditions exist:

(1) The recycled water is of adequate quality and is available in adequate quantity for the proposed use.

(2) The proposed use of the recycled water is approved by the California regional water quality control board having jurisdiction.

(3) There is a direct benefit to the state highway program for the proposed use of recycled water.

(4) The recycled water is supplied by a local public agency or water public utility able to contract for delivery of water and the installation, maintenance, and repair of facilities to deliver the water.

(5) The installation of the water delivery facilities does not unreasonably increase any hazard to vehicles on the freeway or create unreasonable problems of highway maintenance and repair.

(c) In cooperation with local public agencies and water public utilities, the department shall permit local public agencies and water public utilities to place transmission lines for recycled water in freeway rights-of-way for use by the local public agencies and water public utilities to transmit recycled water to others, when to do so will promote a beneficial use of recycled water and that transmission does not unreasonably interfere with use of the freeway or unreasonably increase any hazard to vehicles on the freeway, subject to paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive, of subdivision (b) and the following additional requirements:

(1) The local public agency or water public utility holds the department harmless for any liability caused by a disruption of service to other users of the recycled water and will defend the department in any resulting legal action and pay any damages awarded as a result of that disruption.

(2) The department, in cooperation with the local public agency or water public utility, may temporarily interrupt service in order to add to or modify its facilities without liability, as specified in paragraph (1).

(3) The local public agency or water public utility obtains and furnishes the department an agreement by all other users of recycled water from the transmission system holding the department harmless for any disruption in service.

(4) The local public agency or water public utility has furnished the department a list of other recycled water users and information on any backup system or other source of water available for use in case of a service disruption.

(5) The local public agency is responsible for the initial cost or any relocation cost of the recycled water transmission lines for service to other users in the right-of-way and waives its rights to require the department to pay the relocation costs pursuant to Sections 702 and 704.

(6) The local public agency or water public utility maintains the water transmission system subject to reasonable access for maintenance purposes to be negotiated between the department and the local public agency or water public utility.

(7) The department has first priority with respect to the recycled water supply contracted for by the department.

(8) The local public agency or water public utility installs an automatic control system which will allow the water transmission system to be shut down in case of an emergency. The department shall have access to all parts of the transmission system for purposes of the agreement.

(9) All transmission lines are placed underground and as close as possible to the freeway right-of-way boundary or at other locations authorized by the department.

(10) The plans and specifications for the recycled water transmission facilities have been approved by the department prior to construction.

(d) When appropriate, appropriate and consistent with integrated pest management strategies as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 14717 of the Government Code, planting projects undertaken or approved by the department shall include California native wildflowers and native and climate-appropriate vegetation as an integral and permanent part of the planting design, with priority given to those species of wildflowers and native and climate-appropriate vegetation that will help rebuild pollinator populations.

(e) As used in this section:

(1) “Local public agency” means any local public agency that transmits or supplies recycled water to others.

(2) “Water public utility” means any privately owned water corporation that is subject to the jurisdiction and control of the Public Utilities Commission.

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB2062

BILL ANALYSIS:

SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND HOUSING
Senator Jim Beall, Chair
2017 - 2018 Regular

Bill No:  AB 2062          Hearing Date:  5/15/18
Author:  Maienschein
Version: 4/30/2018
Urgency: No                  Fiscal:  Yes
Consultant:  Manny Leon

SUBJECT:  State highways: landscaping

DIGEST: This bill requires the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to include California native wildflowers and climate-appropriate vegetation in planting projects, as specified.

ANALYSIS:

Existing law:

1) Provides that Caltrans has full possession and control of all state highways and associated property.

2) Authorizes Caltrans to take any act necessary, convenient, or proper for the construction, improvement, maintenance, or use of all highways within its jurisdiction.

3) Requires Caltrans, where practical or desirable, to replace trees that have been destroyed or removed because of projects undertaken to widen the highway.

4) Requires Caltrans to use drought resistant landscaping along freeways whenever feasible, taking into consideration such factors as erosion control and fire retardant needs.

This bill:

1) Requires Caltrans, when appropriate, to include California native wildflowers and native and climate-appropriate vegetation in planting projects.

2) Provides that a priority shall be given to those species of wildflowers that will help rebuild pollinator populations.

COMMENTS:

1) Purpose. According to the author, “Honeybees and pollinators alike are vital to the success of California’s agricultural industry and play an important role in our daily lives. One in every three bites of food consumed around the world depends on pollination, in particular bee pollination. We must secure California’s bee population to ensure the future success and well-being of our state. There is no single cause for the decline of our bee populace; however, the increase of foraging opportunities is one solution that will promote pollinator health year-round. California’s highway landscape is the perfect place to increase pollinator friendly vegetation to increase pollinator foraging opportunities.”

2) Existing requirements. Highway landscaping requirements currently exist in both Caltrans’ Highway Design Manual and Maintenance Manual. Specifically, the highway design manual notes in chapter 900, “planting and irrigation design should minimize ongoing intensive maintenance activities” and specifies conserving water by “using regionally appropriate drought tolerate native and non-native plants that will require little or no supplemental water… select and arrange regionally appropriate drought tolerant native and non-native plants to be visually and culturally compatible with local indigenous plant communities and the surrounding landscape.”

3) Pollinators. Pollinators, specifically the honey bee, are essential to the agricultural industry of our state and nation. In the United States, bees pollinate crops valued at more than $15 billion per year including many varieties of fruits, vegetables, and plants such as alfalfa and clover to feed cattle and other grazing animals. The author asserts that California’s bee population has declined in recent years due to multiple factors including lack of foraging opportunity, parasitic infestation, and pesticide use. California must secure its bee population to ensure the future success and well-being of the state. While both the Highway Design Manual and Maintenance Manual do in fact contain similar landscaping requirements as provided in this bill, existing requirements are silent on placing a priority on wildflowers and native plants that would benefit pollinator populations when appropriate. This bill will provide that clarification.

FISCAL EFFECT: Appropriation: No Fiscal Com.: Yes Local: No

Assembly votes:

Floor: 68-0
Approps: 15-0
Trans: 13-0

POSITIONS: (Communicated to the committee before noon on Wednesday, May 9, 2018.)

SUPPORT:

California State Beekeepers Association

Center for Food Safety

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center

Pesticide Action Network North America

OPPOSITION:

None received.

-END-

 Bill Analysis

(NOTE: Funds raised throughout the year by the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association support the California State Beekeepers Association in bee research and legislation such as AB-2062. Thank you to Anastasia Butler, attorney for the Sustainable Law Group, PC for providing information re AB-2062.)

FDA - New Rule on Honey Labels Comment Deadline June 15, 2018

regulations.gov

PR The Declaration of Added Sugars on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Certain Cranberry Products: Draft Guidance for Industry; Extension of Comment Period

This Proposed Rule document was issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

For related information, Open Docket Folder

Action

Notification of availability; extension of comment period.

Summary

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is extending the comment period for the notification of availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “The Declaration of Added Sugars on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Certain Cranberry Products: Guidance for Industry” that appeared in the Federal Register of March 2, 2018. The draft guidance, when finalized, will advise food manufacturers of our intent to exercise enforcement discretion related to the use in the Nutrition Facts label of a symbol “†” immediately after the added sugars percent Daily Value information on certain foods. The symbol would lead the reader to truthful and non-misleading statements outside the Nutrition Facts label to provide additional information regarding the added sugars present in particular foods. We are taking this action in response to requests for an extension to allow interested persons additional time to submit comments.

Dates

We are extending the comment period on the document that published in the Federal Register of March 2, 2018 (83 FR 8953). Submit either electronic or written comments by June 15, 2018.

Addresses

You may submit comments as follows:

Electronic Submissions

Submit electronic comments in the following way:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

Written/Paper Submissions

Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2018-D-0075 for “The Declaration of Added Sugars on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Certain Cranberry Products: Guidance for Industry.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or the electronic and written/paper comments received, go to https://www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the “Search” box and follow the prompts and/or go to the Dockets Management Staff, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

For Further Information Contact

Blakely Fitzpatrick, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 5001 Campus Dr., College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-1450.

Supplementary Information

I. Background

In the Federal Register of March 2, 2018 (83 FR 8953), we published a document announcing the availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “The Declaration of Added Sugars on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Certain Cranberry Products: Guidance for Industry.” The draft guidance is intended to advise food manufacturers of our intent to exercise enforcement discretion related to the use in the Nutrition Facts label of a symbol “†” immediately after the added sugars percent Daily Value information on certain foods. The symbol would lead the reader to truthful and non-misleading statements outside the Nutrition Facts label to provide additional information regarding the added sugars present in particular foods. The draft guidance explains that we intend to consider exercising enforcement discretion for the use of this symbol on single ingredient packages and/or containers of pure honey or pure maple syrup, and certain dried cranberry and cranberry juice products that are sweetened with added sugars, and that contain total sugars at levels no greater than comparable products with endogenous (inherent) sugars, but no added sugars. We provided a 60-day comment period that was scheduled to close on May 1, 2018.

We have received requests to extend the comment period for the draft guidance (Refs. 1 and 2). The requests conveyed concern that the current 60-day comment period does not allow sufficient time to develop meaningful or thoughtful comments to the draft guidance.

We have considered the requests and are extending the comment period for the draft guidance for 45 additional days, until June 15, 2018. We believe that this extension allows adequate time for interested persons to submit comments without significantly delaying finalizing the guidance.

II. References

The following references are on display at the Dockets Management Staff (see ADDRESSES) and are available for viewing by interested persons between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday; they are also available electronically at https://www.regulations.gov.

1. Letter from Margaret Lombard, Chief Executive Officer, National Honey Board, to FDA Dockets Management Staff (April 3, 2018).

2. Letter from Ray Bonenberg, President, International Maple Syrup Institute, to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, FDA (April 4, 2018).

Dated: April 19, 2018.

Leslie Kux,
Associate Commissioner for Policy.

[FR Doc. 2018-08603 Filed 4-24-18; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4164-01-P

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2018-D-0075-0083

(NOTE: Thanks to Anthony Thiessen for the link and quote: "The FDA is considering whether honey labels should say "added sugar." Even though our product is inherently sweet, there is nothing added, so I feel that label would be a misrepresentation. The public comment period ends on June 15th, Please please please share this link around to anyone keepers or clubs you know! https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2018-D-0075-0083.")

USDA to Provide $4 Million for Honey Bee Habitat

The following is brought to us by ABJ Extra.  Subscribe to the American Bee Journal and sign up for ABJ Extra 


Announcement Builds on Previous Investment in Michigan, Minnesota,
North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin


WASHINGTON, Oct.29, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that  more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to help farmers and ranchers in the Midwest improve the health of honey bees, which play an important role in crop production.

“The future of America’s food supply depends on honey bees, and this effort is one way USDA is helping improve the health of honey bee populations,” Vilsack said. “Significant progress has been made in understanding the factors that are associated with Colony Collapse Disorder and the overall health of honey bees, and this funding will allow us to work with farmers and ranchers to apply that knowledge over a broader area.”

An estimated $15 billion worth of crops is pollinated by honey bees, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is focusing the effort on five Midwestern states: Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. This announcement renews and expands a successful $3 million pilot investment that was announced earlier this year and continues to have high levels of interest.  This effort also contributes to the June 2014 Presidential Memorandum – Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, which directs USDA to expand the acreage and forage value in its conservation programs.

Funding will be provided to producers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications are due Friday, November 21.

From June to September, the Midwest is home to more than 65 percent of the commercially managed honey bees in the country. It is a critical time when bees require abundant and diverse forage across broad landscapes to build up hive strength for the winter.

The assistance announced today will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees. For example, appropriate cover crops or rangeland and pasture management may provide a benefit to producers by reducing erosion, increasing the health of their soil, inhibiting invasive species, and providing quality forage and habitat for honey bees and other pollinators.

This year, several NRCS state offices are setting aside additional funds for similar efforts, including California – where more than half of all managed honey bees in the U.S. help pollinate almond groves and other agricultural lands – as well as Ohio and Florida.

The 2014 Farm Bill kept pollinators as a high priority, and these conservation efforts are one way USDA is working to help improve pollinator habitat. 

USDA is actively pursuing solutions to the multiple problems affecting honey bee health. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) maintains four laboratories across the country conducting research into all aspects of bee genetics, breeding, biology and physiology, with special focus on bee nutrition, control of pathogens and parasites, the effects of pesticide exposure and the interactions between each of these factors. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports bee research efforts in Land Grant Universities. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducts national honey bee pest and disease surveys and provides border inspections to prevent new invasive bee pests from entering the U.S. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) and NRCS work on improved forage and habitat for bees through programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and EQIP. The Forest Service is restoring, improving, and/or rehabilitating pollinator habitat on the national forests and grasslands and conducting research on pollinators. Additionally, the Economic Research Service (ERS) is currently examining the direct economic costs of the pollinator problem and the associated indirect economic impacts, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts limited surveys of honey production, number of colonies, price, and value of production which provide some data essential for research by the other agencies.

For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visitwww.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center 

60 Members of Congress Urge EPA to Protect Pollinators

ClimateProgress   By Katie Valentine  October 1, 2014

Sixty members of the House of Representatives want the Environmental Protection Agency to get serious about protecting pollinators.

On Tuesday, the lawmakers sent a letter to EPA Head Gina McCarthy urging her agency to consider banning or restricting the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on crops, due to scientific evidence that these pesticides have adverse effects on bees, butterflies and birds. The letter notes that the Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that it planned to phase out neonic use in National Wildlife Refuges by 2016, due to to the pesticides’ ability to potentially affect “a broad spectrum” of species in the refuges. 

“We encourage you to follow the lead of FWS and respond to this troubling situation swiftly and effectively,” the lawmakers write in their letter.

Besides a call to restrict use of neonics on crops, the letter contains multiple policy recommendations for the EPA, including a request that the agency consider impacts on the more than 40 pollinator species listed as threatened or endangered by the federal government before registering new neonic pesticides. The lawmakers also say the EPA should restrict use of neonics in commercial pesticides, which can be applied by anyone, regardless of whether they have a pesticide licence or not.

“Protecting our pollinators is essential to the health and future of our environment and our species,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who was a signatory on the letter, said in a statement. “I’m going to keep hammering away on this issue until we can ensure that the products we are using in our backyards and on our farms are not killing pollinators.”

The letter highlighted an order signed this summer by President Obama, which created a national task force on pollinator health and also charged the EPA with assessing the impact pesticides have on pollinator health. As the EPA begins to comply with this directive, the letter states, it should bear in mind that recent research from the International Union for Conservation of Nature that found that pesticides like neonics are accumulating in soil and polluting waterways, and separate research that’s documented the steep decline in many species of pollinators.

One 2013 study found that three species of bumblebees experienced a “rapid and recent population collapse” from 1872 to 2011, and another study from 2011 found that four bumblebee species in the U.S. have “declined substantially” over the last 20 to 30 years. Butterflies, too, are under pressure: Monarch populations have declined by 90 percent over the last two decades, mostly as a result of deforestation, removal of the milkweed on which the butterflies depend and changing weather patterns.

Managed honeybees have also experienced major declines over the last few years, losses that have gotten widespread attention due to honeybees’ role as key pollinators of many U.S. crops. One of the main drivers of these losses, as the lawmakers’ letter conveys, is neonic pesticides, which have been linked to bee die-offs and other adverse health effects by at least 30 scientific studies.

The U.S. has stopped short of implementing a ban on neonics like the one the EU announced last year, but it is paying increasing attention to pollinator health. In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it was investing $3 million into a program that aims to boost bee numbers by paying farmers in five Midwestern states to make bee-friendly farming decisions like reseeding their fields with bee-friendly cover crops like clover and alfalfa. The USDA has also partnered with the Apiary Inspectors of America and the Bee Informed Partnership to survey winter honey bee colony losses.

In the eyes of the 60 lawmakers, though, the EPA is one agency that still needs to step up to address pollinator health.

“I urge Administrator McCarthy to take immediate action to address the neonicotinoid danger,” John Conyers (D-MI), another signatory of the letter, said in a statement. “The health of these bees and butterflies is essential to the health of our own human species. This is about more than environmental stewardship — it’s about humanity’s food supply.”

California Legislature Delays Crucial Honeybee Protections

EcoWatch    By Anastasia Pantsios   August 22, 2014

As more and more proof emerges that the widespread die-off of honeybee colonies in the last decade is linked to use of neonicotinoid pesticides, the California legislature has passed a bill that would allow its Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to do nothing until 2020.

The DRP has been studying the issues for five years (a study that was supposed to take two years under the current law) without taking meaningful action. AB 1789 extends the study window and the time frame for taking action another six years.

Nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice is representing a coalition of groups—Pesticide Action Network, Center for Food Safety and Beyond Pesticides—which has filed a challenge  in the California Superior Court for the County of Alameda, asking the DPR to ban the pesticides prior to the study completion.

Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie said:

We’re disappointed that California legislators have just passed a bill that allows the California agencies to do nothing about widespread bee die-offs until 2020. While bee colonies are collapsing at historic rates and a huge California growing economy depends on these pollinators, we don’t have time to kick this problem that far down the road. We urge Gov. Brown to veto this bill and get to work with the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation and commit to addressing this problem much sooner than 2020.

Since honeybees are essential to the pollination of many crops, including California’s lucrative almond crop, and California is the leading agriculture state in the U.S., the loss of honeybees there would have a widespread impact on U.S. food production.

Read at... http://ecowatch.com/2014/08/22/california-honeybees

Related article... http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/08/26/california-bees-drop-dead?cmpid=foodinc-fb-bees-14

[Note: For an informed opinion on the widespread use of neonicoitinoid pesticides and their effects on bees, please see Randy Oliver's News and Blogs page at http://scientificbeekeeping.com/news-and-blogs-page/]

Take Action Reminder: Deadline June 16, 2014

Highways BEE Act: H.R. 4790 was introduced by Reps Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Jeff Denham (R-CA) on May 30 and is strongly supported by the Pollinator Partnership (P2). Hastings and Denham are co-chairs of the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus (CP2C). 

Click Here for Additional Background. More information is also provided below the letter.

POLLINATOR ACTION REQUEST: You can help honey bees, monarch butterflies and other pollinators by signing on to group letterbelow as ORGANIZATION and/or as INDIVIDUAL.

Deadline ASAP, and by June 16—the first day of National Pollinator Week!

Who Can Sign: 
Organizations at all levels and types (national, state, local)
Companies
Researchers, other individuals

Forward this Opportunity: To others who may be interested. Spreading the word helps! Can either forward this e-mail, or include this link with your personal note: http://pollinator.org/BEEAct.htm 

GROUP LETTER IN SUPPORT OF HIGHWAYS BEE ACT:

The undersigned support H.R. 4790, the Highways Bettering the Economy and Environment Pollinator Protection Act (Highways BEE Act).

Pollinators, such as honey bees and native pollinators, birds, bats, and butterflies, are essential to healthy ecosystems and are vital partners in American agriculture. Honey bees, monarch butterflies and other native pollinators are suffering drastic population losses, due in part to loss of habitat. 

Highway right-of-ways (ROWs) managed by State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs) represent about 17 million acres of opportunity where significant economic and conservation/environmental benefits can be achieved through integrated vegetation management (IVM) practices, that can—

Significantly reduce mowing and maintenance costs for State DOTs, and

Help create habitat, forage and migratory corridors that will contribute to the health of honey bees, monarch butterflies and other native pollinators, as well as ground nesting birds and other small wildlife.

Neighboring agricultural lands and wildlife ecosystems will benefit through improved pollination services.

The Highways BEE Act directs the Secretary of Transportation to use existing authorities, programs and funding to encourage and facilitate IVM and pollinator habitat efforts by willing State DOTs and other transportation ROWs managers, building on innovative IVM efforts in a growing number of State DOTs.

http://pollinator.org/BEEAct.htm

Will California Save the Bees?

Pesticide Action Network By Paul Towers, Media and Organizing Director   10/28/13

Last week I sat through a long hearing in the California legislature, all about bee declines. By the end, I was both excited and frustrated. As I noted in my closing comments at the hearing, California can and must take action to address the dramatic declines.

This is an important opportunity for the state to be a driver of good public policy nationally. And addressing the issue here in California will be good for our business — the benefits of bees to our agricultural economy are tremendous. While it was encouraging to see legislators taking the issue up at the hearing, it was frustrating to see the room filled with pesticide corporations and their allies trying to confuse the discussion and delay action.

California is a already a driver of what happens nationally on bees, just from the reality of how beekeeping works. Many beekeepers pollinate almonds in California, then move on to pollinate other crops — from apples to pumpkins and blueberries — across the country.

So fewer bees in California means fewer bees for the entire food and farming system.

Beekeepers call for action

Bret Adee, a commercial beekeeper who has been pollinating California almonds for over 23 years explained this to legislators last Wednesday:

There’s a great nervousness in the whole industry … The way to have bees for California is that they have to leave California healthier than they came in. Nationwide, we are at the edge of not being able to restock our bees. Beekeeper after beekeeper I’ve talked to this year has less bees than last year, no matter all his efforts to restock.

Legislators didn't seem to be getting the message, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. As Assemblymembers Susan Eggman, Luis Alejo and Mariko Yamada probed, the state officials at the hearing failed to share meaningful information.

There isn’t a safe place for bees to be in California without exposure to pesticides

“There isn’t a safe place for bees to be in California without exposure to pesticides,” Susan Kegley, PhD, CEO of Pesticide Research Institute and a consulting scientist for PAN told the legislators.

What seemed remarkable to me from state officials who testified was the lack of urgency and any clear plan of action on pesticides, especially given the scientific evidence on neonicotinoids. Just as Europe has done, California has an opportunity to immediately take steps to protect bees. Yet officials seem to be skirting the issue, passing the buck to an intransigent EPA.

Confusing the issue

Pesticide industry lobbyists and allies tried to divert attention to issues like the pesky Varroa mite and the lack of food or forage for bees. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a common industry tactic to redirect attention away from pesticides to issues that face less opposition. In doing so, they further confuse the problem and limit opportunities for action.

The confusion is largely driven by industrial agriculture lobbyists like Kahn, Soares and Conway (you might remember them from methyl iodide) and AMVAC, a pesticide company known for buying patents for some of the most hazardous pesticides.

Mites and large monocultures — lacking food — have indeed created stress on bees. “We had mites in the country for over 15 years, maybe 16 or 17 years, before we had abnormal failures in the winter time,” Adee explained to legislators at the hearing.

No doubt we can and should find all manner of ways to strengthen the resilience of bees, and we can’t ignore some of the most clear and effective ways to do that. And controls on bee-harming pesticides is the place to start.

What California can do

California has a long tradition of driving pesticide policy reforms — and the need and the opportunity are clear. 

In a letter penned by PAN, beekeepers from Santa Barbara and San Diego, as well partner groups like Beyond Pesticides and Center for Food Safety, we urged state officials to take three steps:

•   Accelerate the timeline for review of neonicotinoids, rather than wait several years for review.

•   Place a moratorium and restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid products until a thorough state review is completed.

•   Comprehensively track all use of bee-harming pesticides, including in homes and gardens and seed treatments used on agricultural crops.

Take action» Send a message to California leaders that they should step up to protect bees, for beekeepers, our food system and the state’s economy. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paultowers/will-california-save-the-bees_b_4164626.html

Bill Seeks To Halt Bee-Killing Pesticides in U.S.

Global Issues  By Matthew Charles Cardinale (Atlanta, Georgia) 7/29/13

ATLANTA, Georgia, Jul 29 (IPS) - Two Congressional Democrats have co-sponsored new legislation called the Save America's Pollinators Act of 2013 to take emergency action to save the remaining bees in the U.S., and in turn, the U.S. food supply.

At issue is the use of toxic insecticides called neonicotinoids. Recent studies suggest that at least four types of these insecticides are a primary cause of the massive decline in bee populations seen in the U.S. in recent years.3

It is estimated over 10 million beehives been wiped out since 2007, as part of a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

"Given that EPA allowed many of these insecticides on the market without adequate safety assessments and without adequate field studies on their impact to pollinator health, we feel it's time that Congress support a bill like the Conyers-Blumenauer bill, which would suspend the use of the neonicotinoids until EPA does the adequate science to prove that these neonicotinoids… are not harmful - and if they are harmful, to keep them off the market," Colin O'Neil, director for government affairs for the Centre for Food Safety, told IPS.

"One-third of food that's reliant on the honeybee pollination is really under threat, and threats to pollinators concern the entire food system," O'Neil said.

During the last winter alone, which began in 2012 and ended early this year, U.S. beekeepers lost 45.1 percent of the colonies they operate, with some beekeepers losing 100 percent, according to a government-sponsored study.

The European Union has already imposed a two-year moratorium on several types of neonicotinoids, after the European Food Safety Authority found in January 2013 that certain neonicotinoids were threatening Europe's bee populations.

In May 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a joint study noting that, "Acute and sublethal effects of pesticides on honey bees have been increasingly documented, and are a primary concern."

The proposed legislation, by Rep. John Conyers and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, would require the EPA to suspend the use of at least four neonicotinoids, including imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotafuran.

The legislation would prevent the EPA from re-authorising the use of the chemicals as pesticides until the agency conducts a full review of the scientific evidence. It would have to determine there are no unreasonable adverse effects on bees or other pollinators or beneficial insects before allowing them back on the market.

Through their pollination activities, by which bees allow plants to reproduce, bees are responsible for over 125 billion dollars in global food production, including over 20 billion dollars in the U.S., according to the legislation's findings.

"Neonicotinoids cause sublethal effects including impaired foraging and feeding behavior, disorientation, weakened immunity, delayed larval development, and increased susceptibility to viruses, diseases, and parasites and numerous studies have also demonstrated acute, lethal effects from the application of neonicotinoid insecticides," the legislation states.

"Recent science has demonstrated that a single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid is toxic enough to kill a songbird," it says.

In June 2013, over 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Wilsonville, Oregon, as a direct result of exposure to a neonicotinoid that was used not as a pesticide, but to cosmetically improve the appearance of certain trees.

So many bees have already died in the U.S. that just one more bad winter here could cause a major food crisis, one U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist said in the recent report.

O'Neil notes the U.S. House recently approved an amendment to the Farm Bill that would establish an interagency consultation process on pollinator protection, and would establish a task force to address bee decline.

"Passage of that was the first indicator this summer that members of congress were really waking up to this issue," O'Neil said.

"We feel this bill is necessary because the bees are dying now, and we can't wait four years down the road to come to the conclusion that pesticides are killing bees," he said.

The Centre for Food Safety recently sent an email to their members asking them to contact Gina McCarthy, the new head of the EPA, to encourage her to take action to benefit bees. McCarthy is believed to be a strong proponent of environmental stewardship.

"We're hoping she's going to be a better steward of bee health at the EPA than her predecessor was," O'Neil said.

One of the neonicotinoids was conditionally registered for agricultural uses by the EPA in 2003, based on the fact that it was already registered as an insecticide for non-agricultural uses.

"So they allowed it to be conditionally registered without a field study on the condition this field study would still be received. Ten years later this requirement has never been met and the EPA continues to allow the use," O'Neil said.

Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerxes Society, an organisation that advocates on behalf of invertebrates, told IPS, "The important fact about , they're systemic, they're inside the plant. Others go straight on the plant, and the rain would wash it off after. It's in the roots, it's in the stem, it's in the flower, it's in the flower nectar."

When asked what would happen to te U.S. diet if there was a bee collapse large enough to eliminate pollination across the nation, Hoffman Black said that crops like wheat and corn, which do not require pollination, would still be available.

"Vegetables, fruits, nuts, all things that are highly nutritious and taste really good," would be eliminated, Hoffman Black said. "We would have rice and wheat.

"Our ecosystems are based on pollination of native bees; everything from grizzly bears to songbirds rely on food that rely on pollination," he said.

Read... http://www.globalissues.org/news/2013/07/29/17162

© Inter Press Service (2013) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Michelle Obama, Tell Barack to Honor His Campaign Promise to Label GMO's

By Organic Consumers Association (Contact)

To be delivered to: Michelle Obama, First Lady

Michelle, tell President Obama to honor his campaign promise to require GMO labeling and ask him to endorse California's Proposition 37, a citizens' ballot initiative to label GMOs. Michelle Obama is a champion of better nutrition in school lunches and of ending childhood obesity. Which makes it all the more disappointing that her husband, President Obama, has failed to keep his campaign promise to support GMO labeling. 

On the campaign trail in 2007, candidate Barack Obama said: “We’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified because Americans should know what they’re buying.” 

But since becoming President, Obama has...

US Representative Markey Calls on EPA to Step Up Protection for Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2012) U.S. Representative Edward Markey, (D-MA) has sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging it to investigate a possible link between the use of common pesticides and reductions in honey bee populations. The letter comes as EPA is accepting public comments on a legal petition filed by beekeepers and environmental groups seeking to suspend the use of the neonicotinoidpesticide clothianidin, which has been linked to serious...

Massachusetts Congressman keeps on the EPA about neonics with a requested 9/9/12 response deadline:

3 Million Bees Seized from NY Beekeeper's Home

ABC News  By Kevin Dolak  8/23/12

A New York City neighborhood was abuzz when nearly three million bees were seized from a beekeeper in Queens who violated urban beekeeping rules.

Beekeepers descended on the Corona , New York home of Yi Gin Chen Wednesday night to collect the hives in the 58-year-old man’s driveway and yard.

Police say that the man began his hobby with one hive two years ago, but since then his swarm has grown out of control, to 45 hives and millions of bees.

New York City’s board of health lifted a ban on beekeeping in March of 2010, which opened the door for many fans of the insect to keep Apis mellifera — the non-aggressive honeybee.  The bee population has been dwindling.

Beekeepers in New York City are required to register with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and to adhere to appropriate practices.

“I think he violated a lot of common sense doctrine. He was a bad steward to the bees,” Andrew Corte, president of the New York City Beeekeepers Association, told ABC News.

“Being a beekeeper is to be sure bees are placed in a manner that doesn’t harm neighbors. This man had several hives within of a few feet of his neighbors,” he said.

ABC News was unable to reach Chen for comment.

Best practices for urban beekeeping include maintain a docile and non-defensive colony, ensuring neighbors are not outside when the hive is opened,  and meticulous record keeping, according to the Beeekeepers Association.

Read source...

8/24/12 UPDATE:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/bee_man_accused_of_funny_honey_scam_absQ02ySIcP3AKLEbffJHP

Urban Beekeeping Feeling the Sting of Cities Rules

Deseret News  By Amy Joi O'Donoghue  8/20/12

"The swarm of conflict surrounding urban beekeeping is leading to conflict in several Wasatch cities."

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The swarm of popularity surrounding urban beekeeping is leading to conflict in several Wasatch Front cities, where leaders are contemplating imposing restrictions, revisiting outright bans or simply trying to learn what it means to have honeybee hives in neighborhood backyards.

Earlier this month, West Jordan officials held off passing an ordinance that would have added restrictions that beekeepers say are unfair. On Tuesday, Saratoga Springs officials are meeting to consider revising restrictions put on city beekeepers about a year ago. Similar discussions on beekeeping are happening in Murray and in the Weber County community of Roy.

This past weekend, Saratoga Springs beekeeper...

Read more... 

"I think it is a matter of just being able to get out and educate people that the domestic bee is not out to get them.” Beekeeper Ryan Murdock

EPA Does Not Suspend Clothianidin & Releases Petition for Public Review

(The following is brought us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.) 

The EPA is denying a petition requesting emergency suspension of clothianidin based on imminent hazard. The agency will, however, be taking comment  from the public for 60 days on the petition’s request for cancellation of clothianidin. The agency received the petition from a group of beekeepers, Beyond Pesticides, Pesticide Action Network of North America and others on March 20, 2012. The petition alleges that clothianidin poses an “imminent hazard,” requiring swift regulatory action to protect bees. After considering the petition and the supporting information, the EPA is denying the request to suspend clothianidin use because the petition fails to show that an imminent hazard to bees exists.  Under the FIFRA standard, suspension is appropriate only if there exists a substantial likelihood of serious, imminent harm. Having reviewed the peti tion and supporting information, the EPA does not believe there is a substantial likelihood of imminent serious harm from the use of clothianidin. Specifically, the EPA does not believe the petition demonstrates that the use of clothianidin is causing or will cause:

. significant reduction in populations of domestic bees or native pollinators,
. significant decreases in honey production,
. serious effects on other agricultural systems as a result of decreases in pollination services or
. a reduction in pollination of wild plants in a way that may alter ecosystems. 

EPA is continuing its comprehensive scientific evaluation on all the neonicotinoid pesticides, including clothianidin. This extensive review will determine if any restrictions are necessary to protect people, the environment, or pollinators.  Also, in September, EPA will seek independent scientific peer review on how to better assess the risks of pesticides to pollinators.  This effort will improve our understanding and strengthen the scientific and regulatory process to protect honey bees and other pollinators.  

The EPA's response denying the petition is available at regulations.gov <http://www.regulations.gov/#!home;tab=search>  under docket EPA HQ-OPP-2012-0334 <http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2012-0334;dct=FR%252BPR%252BN%252BO%252BSR> .

A Federal Register notice next week will open a 60-day comment period on the remaining issues in the petition. The EPA will respond to the entirety of the petition at a later date after it has obtained and reviewed any public comments.

In the same Federal Register notice, the EPA will announce the availability of the final work plan for clothianidin’s re-evaluation under Registration Review and its response to comments received during the initial public comment period for the registration review of clothianidin.

 *For information about this pesticide and access to the documents being announced see:  http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/reregistration/status.htm

**For information about this pesticide and access to the documents being announced see: http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/registration_review/reg_review_status.htm

Related article: Beyond Pesticides (July 20, 2012) On Thursday, July 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it had formally refused to recognize that honey bees face an “imminent hazard” and denied a request by beekeepers to immediately suspend the use of pesticides that pose harm to pollinators. The decision comes in response to a legal petition filed earlier this year by twenty-five beekeepers and environmental organizations, citing significant acute and chronic bee kills across the United States linked to neonicotinoid pesticides, particularly clothianidin...(Read more) 

For more info see:
EPA Sidesteps chance to protet bees: (Also read the Comment by Sky's Alive Apiary (Jacqueline Burns-Walters) http://www.panna.org/blog/epa-sidesteps-chance-protect-bees 
Watch Beyond Pesticides Executive Director Jay Feldman's interview on Link TV/Earth Focus discussing pesticides and the decline of bee populations. (June 22, 2012)

Bee Fans Try to Get Los Angeles to Allow Hives in Residential Areas

By John Hoeffel    (Los Angeles Times)    July 14, 2012

Rob and Chelsea McFarland are leading an effort to make beekeeping legal in Los Angeles. They have won the support of Councilman Bill Rosendahl and eight neighborhood councils so far.

Rob McFarland was in his florally vivacious backyard, tending his vegetable plot, when he noticed some honeybees buzzing around a tree. A few minutes later some bees had become tens of thousands.

"The sky was sort of darkened out," he recalled. "It was kind of a presence that I couldn't ignore."

McFarland, a social media entrepreneur and avid gardener, was intrigued by honeybees and aware that hives have been dying from a mysterious cause labeled colony collapse disorder.
 
"I knew enough about honeybees to know they were in real trouble...Read more...

Rob and Chelsea McFarland started HoneyLove, a Los Angeles based non-profit conservation organization with a mission to protect the honeybees and inspire and educate new urban beekeepers. Contact http://honeylove.org/

Cottage Food Bill Passes

4/19/12 (TotalCapital.com)

AB1616 Digest:  Existing law, the Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law (Sherman Law), requires the State Department of Public Health to regulate the manufacture, sale, labeling, and advertising activities related to food, drugs, devices, and cosmetics in conformity with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The Sherman Law makes it unlawful to manufacture, sell, deliver, hold, or offer for sale any food that is misbranded. Food is misbranded if its labeling does not conform to specified federal labeling requirements regarding nutrition, nutrient content or health claims, and food allergens. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor. The existing California Retail Food Code provides for the regulation of health and sanitation standards for retail food facilities, as defined, by the State Department of Public Health. Under existing law, local health agencies are primarily responsible for enforcing the California Retail Food Code. That law exempts private homes from the definition of a food facility, and prohibits food stored or prepared in a private home from being used or offered for sale in a food facility. A violation of these provisions is a misdemeanor. This bill would include a cottage food operation, as defined, that is registered or has a permit within the private home exemption of the California Retail Food Code. The bill would also exclude a cottage food operation from specified food processing establishment and Sherman Law requirements. This bill would require a cottage food operation to meet specified requirements relating to training, sanitation, preparation, labeling, and permissible types of sales. The bill would establish various zoning and permit requirements relating to cottage food operations. By imposing duties on local officials and adding new crimes, this bill would create a state-mandated local program. The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that with regard to certain mandates no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason. With regard to any other mandates, this bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs so mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.