Communities in Action

South Portland, ME: Protecting Southern Maine from Harmful Pesticides:
Tar sands group turns attention to toxic pesticides

After their historic victory to keep tar sands out of Casco Bay, the people of South Portland are not resting on their laurels. Protect South Portland, the local community group that stood up to ExxonMobil and their dirty oil pipeline proposal, has started a new project to end the use of toxic pesticides in their city.

Every day, more studies are linking pesticide exposure to serious health problems. Pesticides also take a huge toll on the health of our friendly pollinators like honeybees, and for coastal cities like South Portland, toxic runoff jeopardizes the health of lobsters and other marine life.

Rachel Burger, founder of Protect South Portland, knew something had to be done. She reached out to her experienced team of friends and neighbors from the tar sands fight to start a new campaign called Bees, Bays, and Backyards. She also reached out to Toxics Action Center.

Thanks to support from members like you, Toxics Action Center has been working to curb pesticide spraying in communities across Maine for more than 15 years. Our community organizer Andy Jones connected group members with national experts and worked with them to come up with a campaign plan. He then reached out to other organizations to lend support to the local effort.

Protect South Portland has convinced the City Council to hold two separate workshops to explore the issue of reducing pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Despite pushback from the chemical industry, the City Council knows they have the support of voters and are moving ahead with a plan to protect the health of bees, the bay and their residents.

Rachel knows the stakes are high. “It’s hard to imagine Maine without lobsters and blueberries,” she says. “With bee die-offs and increasing acidity in Casco Bay that is causing clams to dissolve, both are in danger.” Toxics Action Center plans to use the momentum in South Portland to organize surrounding towns and win a larger victory for the health of Casco Bay and beyond.