HDOA, EPA reach resolution about impact of chemicals

LIHUE — Environmental Protection Agency and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture are working together to better regulate pesticide applications in West Kauai and on Molokai.

It’s a result of a 2016 Earthjustice complaint against HDOA for not doing everything in its power to limit pesticide exposure in Hawaii communities — particularly within Native Hawaiian communities.

Makaweli Valley kalo farmer John A’ana is part of “Po’ai Wai Ola,” one of the two groups — the other was “Moms On A Mission” — that were represented by Earthjustice in the complaint.

A’ana said Tuesday the watershed group hopes the agreement spurs HDOA to “stop poisoning the land and waters we rely upon to feed our families”.

“At the very least, HDOA can no longer ignore its responsibility to ensure that Native Hawaiians aren’t bearing the brunt of the harmful effects of industrial pesticide use on our islands,” A’ana said.

Tuesday, Earthjustice announced an informal resolution agreement between the two agencies, one that forces HDOA to start implementing restricted-use pesticide reporting, annual public disclosure of the reports, maps that indicate buffer zones around schools and public notice of the prohibition of chlorpyrifos use.

“Although HDOA has broad powers to limit communities’ pesticide exposure — through enacting regulations, restricting pesticide registrations, and enforcing pesticide use laws — it has made very little effort to do so,” according to an Earthjustice press release.

“Instead, it routinely registers pesticides for local use without considering their impacts on Native Hawaiians, is lax in monitoring and enforcing against harmful practices, and has failed to enact or support protections such as buffer zones and pesticide disclosure,” the release states.

HDOA made its own announcement as well on Tuesday, stating the agency is pleased about their agreement with EPA, and that HDOA agreed “to continue to comply with existing federal and state laws, including an agreement to ensure that proper notices are posted and accessible describing people’s right to be free from discrimination and HDOA’s process for handling discrimination complaints.”

“We appreciate EPA’s cooperation and professionalism in working with us to find an amicable and fair resolution,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.

Since the complaint was filed, the Hawaii Legislature passed Act 45, which bans pesticides that contain chlorpyrifos and requires buffer zones around schools for pesticide applications.

Tuesday’s agreement directs HDOA on how to fulfill those obligations — annual reporting of restricted use pesticides; permits for application of the pesticide, chlorpyrifos; and 100-foot buffer zones. Act 45 also required HDOA to post aggregated data on restricted use pesticides.

“The department remains committed to the enforcement of these laws, and the enhancement of its nondiscrimination programs,” HDOA said in a Tuesday statement.

Earthjustice attorney Kylie Wager Cruz represented Po’ai Wai Ola and Moms On A Mission and said the EPA response is a good start.

“We hope HDOA will make good on its commitments under the agreement and take further steps well within its current powers, such as placing buffer zones around medical facilities and residential and commercial areas where pesticide applications can expose innocent people to toxic substances,” Cruz said.


Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com

  1. Charlie Chimknee June 5, 2019 8:01 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    This well written article makes it evident that issues over Ag poison use are divided by 2 camps: those concerned for human safety and the health of children and adults whether or not they are of Hawaiian ancestry or any other ancestry, all being humans, and in America being entitled to the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…which if you are poisoned Ag Poison, you are denied all 3 liberties, and would make you have to wait in line for your $Billion Ag Poison Judgement by the Court.

    The other camp is populated by those who seemingly think poison is…well, not poison…or simply do not care while individually carelessly polluting themselves and the environment; perhaps from lack of education which is ignorance; including those educated about the fragility of our environment and are either too stupid to care or are vicious, or unethical, or deceitful, or cannot pass up the profits they are making from the poison and pollution.

    Wars have been fought over lesser things than the accumulative effects of pollution.perhaps the future needs a warning.

    It is possible to be born and raised in polluted Cities like Mexico City, Bangkok, Beijing, and Los Angeles, etc., (or living near the seed companies’ fields in Kekaha)…engulfed in pollution poison smog or Ag poisoned spraying most of your days and just seemingly have to live your life in it…powerless and/or too ignorant to know how to, or be able to, change it. All the while giving up anywhere between 10% and 70% of your life to cancer and a myriad of other diseases, if your God Given potential was to have a life of 100 years lkee some others have. And that is another discussion.

    There are no degrees of death, it is 100%. But life can be stymied or crushed at any % caused by Ag poisons…how much can one tolerate…we shouldn’t have to tolerate any poison…how odd and dangerous too many powerful profiteers and those lost in government jobs disagree.

    Alone you can do nothing against Big Oil, Big Petrochemicals, Big Farming, Big Industrial Food, and Big Industrial Disease Care; They are Big Profiteers of today.

    United you can protect yours and your childrens’ lives via Education, Protest, and Legislation. Democracy allows this without violence. Support those in every way you can who stand up for the safety of life itself whether it is us and other sentient beings, or the air, waters, and land.

    Mahalo for reading,


    1. 1 question June 5, 2019 1:46 pm Reply

      do robinson lease a lot of the land to these fakas? do robinson no care?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.