Nevada Bill to Protect Bees Passes with Broad Bipartisan Support

With broad bi-partisan support, Nevada enacted legislation to make it the third state to ban outdoor, non-agricultural uses of neurotoxic neonic pesticides.

Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Credit: iStock

Following in the footsteps of New Jersey and Maine, Nevada enacted cutting-edge legislation to help protect its people, pollinators, and ecosystems from neurotoxic neonicotinoid insecticides, or “neonics.” AB 162, authored by Assemblymember Michelle Gorelow, prohibits use of these devastating pesticides on lawns, gardens, golf courses, and other non-agricultural settings. The effort was led by local organizations including Reno Food Systems, Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter, and many more, with support from NRDC’s pollinator team. 

Neonics are devastating to bees, aquatic ecosystems, birds, and a wide variety of other wildlife, leading us toward an ecological collapse sometimes referred to as a “Second Silent Spring.” Evidence of their widespread harms continues to mount. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently predicted that continued use of neonics is likely to drive over 200 threatened and endangered species toward extinction

Their use hurts people, too. Researchers recently found that pollinator declines are already reducing production of fruits, vegetables, and nuts by 3-5% and estimated that reduced access to these healthy foods is contributing an additional 427,000 preventable deaths worldwide each year. 

Experts are also increasingly concerned that neonics may be directly harming human health. A recent study found neonics in the bodies of over 95% of pregnant women tested, adding to concerns surrounding other research linking neonic exposure with malformations of the developing heart and brain, as well as autism-like symptoms. 

An aerial view of residential neighborhoods in east Las Vegas, Nevada.

An aerial view of residential neighborhoods in east Las Vegas, Nevada. Neonics are often widely used in suburban areas. 

Credit: Bernhard Lang/Getty Images

Non-agricultural neonic uses are a significant part of the problem. They are often approved at far higher concentrations than in agriculture, meaning they result in intense contamination of urban and suburban areas where many people live, work, and play. Despite their harms, they are used prophylactically on lawns and gardens, even where there is no pest problem. This means that for the vast majority of these uses, the best alternative is nothing—and even where pests exist, there are effective and less harmful alternatives readily available. 

That is why in 2019, NRDC helped advance legislation in New Jersey to eliminate these lawn and garden uses. That bill eventually passed in 2022 and has since served as a model for bills in California, Minnesota, and New York—as well as AB 162 in Nevada. 

Passage of AB 162 marks continued momentum for targeted, common-sense restrictions on unnecessary neonic uses. It also reinforces that protecting pollinators, our food supply, and public health is strongly supported across party lines nationwide. Thanks to broad grassroots support, AB 162 passed unanimously in the Nevada Assembly and by an overwhelming 17-3 margin in the Senate, and was then signed by Republican Governor Joe Lombardo.  As U.S. EPA continues to allow widespread use of neonics, more states need to follow in Nevada’s footsteps to protect their people and pollinators from neonics. 

Related Blogs