HONOLULU — Hawaii’s Legislature has approved the first chlorpyrifos ban in the nation as a component of a pesticide disclosure bill approved by both the Senate and the House Tuesday.
“This was a law that was years in the making. Its time had come.” said Sen. Russell Ruderman, the bill’s primary introducer, who along with co-introducers Sen. Josh Green and Rep. Karl Rhoads were among the earliest supporters of the bill. “We have been guided by the belief that we must always put our keiki first. On that we should all agree.”
If approved by Gov. David Ige, the SB 3095 also will establish a 100-foot buffer zone for restricted-use pesticide use around schools during instructional hours, and require commercial agriculture entities to regularly report their pesticide use.
The chlorpyrifos ban will take effect in January. Companies that need more time to respond to the chlorpyrifos ban may apply for extensions via temporary permits, which will be available only until Dec. 31, 2022. After this date there will be no exceptions and chlorpyrifos will be banned in the state of Hawaii.
The bill will also provide $300,000 from the Pesticides Revolving Fund for staffing, education and outreach as well as $300,000 from general revenues to develop a pesticide drift monitoring study at three schools within the state.
“Today we moved a step closer to addressing the huge risk posed by the spraying of restricted use pesticides. This is real progress in safeguarding the health of the community,” said Gary Hooser of Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action. “We thank the legislators for doing the right thing to protect public health and we count on their continuing vigilance in managing and reining in reckless corporate behavior.”
And while supporters of the bill are celebrating, some farmers are wondering what that means for Hawaii’s agriculture industry.
“While our member companies already participate in good neighbor programs that address many of the proposed requirements in SB 3095, we are concerned that other farmers statewide may be negatively impacted by the bill,” said Bennette Misalucha, executive director, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association.
HCIA’s members are committed to being responsible farmers, she said, and do regard the health of keiki, neighbors and employees as being “the highest of importance.”
“We support public policies that promote and encourage Hawaii’s entire agriculture industry, along with legislation that is firmly rooted in science and facts,” she said.
The bill has been worked over by both the House and the Senate and was recently voted upon unanimously in a House and Senate Conference Committee.
Supporters say it represents years of collaboration with scientists and doctors who have studied pesticides, as well as hard work from the community.
“There is much to celebrate,” Hooser said. “This was a compromise in which everyone’s voice was heard, and most importantly, the community’s well-founded fears about their health were addressed. Our families have some much-needed protections against powerful neurotoxins that we know are harming our children, pregnant women and families living close to test fields.”