By Cathy Allen, Special to the AFRO

Last week I was on social media and ran across a post with a lovely picture of a honey bee covered in pollen inside a flower bloom with the caption, “Maryland will be the first state to ban pesticides and save the bees.’

Unfortunately, that is environmental fake news.

Here’s the truth. On May 1, 2018 the state of Hawaii came close to making history by becoming the first state in our nation to ban the harmful chlorpyrifos pesticide in all agriculture use, a rule started under the Obama administration.

Cathy Allen, award-winning Urban Environmentalist. (Courtesy Photo)

Our current Scott Pruitt-led EPA reversed that pledge. Hawaii bill SB3095 requires all users of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) to report usage of chlorpyrifos pesticide and mandates minimum 100-foot no-spray zones for RUPs around schools during school hours.

Maryland 2018 Environmental Legislative Session proposed bill (HB116/SB500) This bill would have banned chlorpyrifos in that state for agriculture use. It is already banned for residential use. Chlorpyrifos is a toxic nerve agent pesticide proven to cause brain damage in children and known to harm the environment (honey bees) and wildlife.  This bill raised concerns on the Senate floor, and the House bill was withdrawn by the sponsors, Delegate Stein/Senator Nathan-Pulliam.

Maryland is moving forward in other important environmental matters such as these environmental wins in the 2018 Environmental Legislative Session.

 (HB003/SB0138) This bill passed both chambers and requires Governor Hogan to include the state as a member of the U.S. Climate Alliance on or before July 18, 2018 and mandates that only the General Assembly may withdraw that state from the U.S. Climate Alliance. It also requires Governor Hogan to provide an annual report on the activities of U.S. Climate Alliance to the General Assembly. This bill is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Sponsored by: Delegate Stein/Senator Conway.

(HB1350/SB1006) This bill advances efforts to adapt to climate change and passed the House and Senate and is currently awaiting Governor Hogan’s signature. Sponsored by: Delegate Stein/Senator Pinsky.

 (HB1135/SB1058) This bill would have halted the development of offshore wind projects by moving them at least 26 nautical miles off the coast of the state and halt offshore wind projects. This bill was voted down in the House Economic Matters committee and securing the future of offshore wind in Maryland. Sponsored by: Delegate Adams/Senator Hershey.

 (HB0744/SB0850) These bills created a “Complete Street Program” on both a state and local level. The first bill provides grants to local governments to encourage their adoption of complete streets policies. The second: requires that the state Department of Transportation to adopt and implement a ‘complete streets policy.” These policies seek to make walking and bicycling safer and more attractive. Both bills are awaiting the Governor’s signature. Sponsored by: Delegate Lafferty/Senator Mathias.

 (HB993/SB0898) This passed bill will require the Board of Trustees for the state Retirement and Pension System to conduct a climate risk assessment of investments in the pension system every four years consistent with its fiduciary duties. The bill awaits Governor Hogan’s signature. Sponsored by: Delegate Adams/Senator Korman.

Fake news has become the ‘norm’ in our society, so much so that it is now spreading into the environmental sector. Check your facts.

Cathy Allen is an award-winning Urban Environmentalist, the co-creator of G.R.A.S.S. (Growing Resources After Sowing Seed) as well as Chair of the “Grow-It Eat It” campaign. G.R.A.S.S. is an environmental entrepreneurial nonprofit program based on the fundamentals of gardening, agriculture and ecology. In conjunction with Baltimore City Public Schools, Allen’s campaign has planted over a half-million trees on the lawns of Baltimore City public schools.