Hawaiʻi House Finance Committee Advances Landmark Pesticide Regulation Bill
The Hawaiʻi House Finance Committee strengthened and unanimously passed SB 3095 SD1 HD1, the pesticide regulation bill, yesterday. If the bill becomes law, Hawaiʻi will make history as the first state in the nation to take decisive action to restrict public exposure to chlorpyrifos. In introducing the amendment to ban chlorpyrifos in a phased process over three years, Chair Sylvia Luke said this action was necessary in light of the reversal in course by the Environmental Protection Agency under Scott Pruitt. The federal agency had been on the verge of banning the highly toxic chemical until he took the reins.
Gary Hooser, Founder/President of the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.), from Kauaʻi, and advocates from the Hawaiʻi Center for Food Safety, Autumn Ness and Lauryn Rego of Maui, were among those who were at the Capitol to watch the decision-making process in the House Finance Committee.
All three long-time advocates for pesticide regulation welcomed today's development as real progress. "We are really pleased that the House Finance Committee passed this solid and comprehensive bill," said Hooser. "While it could be stronger in some areas, it is clearly a significant step in the right direction. It also speaks to the hard work of many around the state to protect the health and environment of our communities from the effects of large scale pesticide use," he added. The former Majority leader of the Senate, and Kauaʻi County Council member has been deeply involved for several years in grassroots efforts to educate and move legislation on this issue.
Autumn Ness, Advisory Board member of the Hawaiʻi Center for Food Safety, echoed the same sentiment: "Today's bill amendments acknowledged the necessary protection that the State must give to our people to protect them from the harms of pesticide use on the Islands. We are glad the Committee Members heard the powerful voice of the community, and are grateful for everything Chair Luke did to address our concerns," said Ness, as she thanked the Chair after the hearing. Hawai'i Center for Food Safety has advocated for stronger pesticide legislation in the state for years.
The amendments to SB3095 SD HD1, as described at the hearing, include:
1) Notification: Annual mandatory reporting by those who apply over 35lbs/35gal of undiluted Restricted Use Pesticides, effective one year after passing. Users at or above the 35/35 threshold will be required to disclose the following: list of pesticides used, total amount used, and a general description of location where the pesticides were applied.
2) Restrictions on the application of Restricted Use Pesticides during school hours to a distance not less than 100 feet of any school. Dr. Milton Clark, retired EPA scientist who testified at a recent hearing, welcomed the bill's progress. He noted: "This is better than a pilot program for a few schools, or a vegetative buffer, but it is 13 times less than the 1/4 mile distance now required by California. The California law is based upon known adverse effects to children living close to agricultural operations."
3) A ban on the use of chlorpyrifos, phased out over three years. Anyone wanting to use chlorpyrifos would have to apply for an exemption, and that exemption would be public knowledge.
4) An increase in the pesticide-use revolving fund from $250K to $1M annually to address outreach and education efforts.
The bill has to be accepted by the Senate and be passed in a floor vote before it heads to the Governor's desk.