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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Advocates urge Gov. Hochul to ban harmful pesticides in NY

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Friday, December 15, 2023   

Wildlife advocates are urging New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign what's known as the Birds and Bees Protection Act.

The bill bans neonicotinoids, a neurotoxic pesticide used to coat plants and seeds, since numerous studies have linked these chemicals to massive bee and pollinator die-offs. Between 2020 and 2021, it is estimated beekeepers lost more than 45% of their colonies.

Daniel Raichel, acting director of the pollinator initiative for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said it is more than a warning.

"Bees are effectively 'canaries in the coal mine' for a much broader hollowing out of ecosystems that we see across the board; basically, hollowing them out from the bottom up," Raichel explained. "We see mass losses of insect life, with ripple effects to birds and fish."

He added the pesticides can affect human health, including muscle tremors, lower testosterone levels and birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than half of the U.S. population has been exposed to neonicotinoids on a regular basis, with the greatest exposure among children ages 3-5.

The bill is expected to be on the governor's desk soon.

The legislation was originally introduced in 2017, with changes made in the years since then. Raichel noted opposition came primarily from the chemical companies manufacturing 'neonic' products, but after a 2021 report from Cornell University explored the issue further, the bill gained traction.

"We were told, 'Hey, the state is looking into the science on this. Let's wait for the science,'" Raichel recounted. "The science came out in 2020. The bill adapted to the science, and here we are, right? The science is clearer than ever."

Raichel added signing the bill would curb improper use in New York of chemicals proven to be highly toxic. One recent study showed neonicotinoids make up 92% of the increase in toxins found in insect populations.

References:  
Report EPA 05/01/2023

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