HONOLULU — The House and Senate Conference Committee approved a pesticide regulation bill Friday, two hours before their deadline and after rescheduling the hearing twice.
The vote was unanimous.
“We all know for many years people across the state have been demanding the state take action on pesticide use and environmental health ramifications and we have been slow to act, and I apologize for that,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee.
Rep. Chris Lee said there is no safe use for the pesticide chlorpyrifos and with the lack of federal regulations, now is the time to pass this bill.
“With a lack of federal leadership on this issue, we needed to pass this bill to protect our children and families from possible negative effects of chemical pesticides,” he said. “With careful regulation we can still allow some agricultural businesses to use some pesticides on their farms and away from schools.”
Representatives from the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association say the organization is concerned about the bill.
HCIA members voluntarily cooperate with Hawaii Department of Agriculture programs that are in place that regulate restricted use pesticides, HCIA representatives said, and they hail the bill as having “detrimental, wide-ranging impacts on farm and pesticide users.”
“If signed into law, SB3095 will have a profound impact on everyone who uses any type of pesticide, including using home products to control roaches and ants,” said Scott Ishikawa, communications manager on behalf of HCIA. “Pesticide uses are regulated by the most stringent federal and state standards. Members of our community already comply with these strict regulations, including all applicable buffer zones as mandated by the EPA.”
Gary Hooser, head of Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, says he’s thankful for the hard work of the community and the lawmakers’ decision.
“Today marks an auspicious moment in the legislative history surrounding pesticide regulation,” he said. “The bill passed today contains a first in the nation ban on the use of chlorpyrifos, which is phased in gradually over four years, as well as a comprehensive statewide RUP reporting requirement.”
Some of the changes that are included in the draft include expanding reporting requirements to all users of Restricted Use Pesticides rather than just to commercial agriculture use, extending temporary use permits for chlorpyrifos to Dec. 31, 2022 and requiring the Department of Agriculture to develop pesticide drift monitoring programs by Jan. 1.
“This bill is the first step in the right direction to protect people from these chemicals,” Gabbard said.
The bill is expected to be on the House and Senate floors on Tuesday.
Jessica Else, environmental reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.