Current status and my testimony on SB3095 – Pesticide Disclosure and Buffer Zones

Note: On Monday February 12th the Hawaii State Senate Committees on Agriculture and Health and Consumer Protection held a hearing on SB3095 that proposes to regulate the use of Restricted Use Pesticides by requiring the largest users to disclose that use, and put into place buffer zones around schools (a pilot program involving only 5 schools).  Yesterday, Wednesday February 14th they announced their decision.

The good news is that SB3095 remains alive and will continue to move through the process.  The bad news is that the Senate Committee’s bowed to pressure from the industry and stripped out of the measure all references to disclosure and all other meaningful enforcement provisions, leaving only a one year pilot program for 10 schools and a reference to instructing the Department of Health to conduct some drift monitoring.

Why/How does this happen?  Normally all bills of any significance are guided by “leadership” in the Senate and in the House.  “Leadership” in this case is Senate President Ron Kouchi (from Kauai).  The process would normally be one where “leadership” consults with the committee chairs and with the state departments and with “stake-holders” (chemical companies and big agriculture) – and then makes a recommendation which everyone follows (assuming they want to keep their chairmanships).  In this case, clearly the voices that were heard, were the voices of the corporations.

I am hopeful that in the coming weeks, the voices of the community will grow louder and more insistent, and more persuasive, demanding the protection of health and the environment.  If so, it is possible that the bill can be strengthened again in future committee hearings in the Senate and or in the House, so ultimately it passes into law putting into  place meaningful and reasonable protections.

The original bill, SB3095 can be read here: https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2018/bills/SB3095_.htm

In the next few days the amended bill, SB3095SD1 can be found here along with testimony of all both for and against, and a record of the votes and hearings etc: https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=3095&year=2018

My testimony on the original bill is below.

Testimony in strong support of SB3095 establishing mandatory disclosure and buffer zones for heavy users of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP).

My testimony in strong support focuses on four inarguable facts.

1) The science and research is unequivocal: Pesticides in general and Restricted Use Pesticides in particular cause harm to the people and the environment, especially in areas where they are heavily used.

2) In Hawai’i, because of the existence of 3 growing seasons and the presence of large agrochemical and other industrial agricultural operations, there are areas where communities are exposed daily to the impacts of heavy pesticide use.

3) In order for individuals and for government agencies and organizations to make informed decisions that protect health and the environment, the disclosure of what types of pesticides are used, how much are used and when and where they are used is necessary.  NO ONE KNOWS THIS INFORMATION NOW EXCEPT THE CORPORATIONS USING THESE CHEMICALS.  THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE KNOWS SOME OF THE INFO BUT THE VAST MAJORITY IS KEPT HIDDEN BY THE CORPORATIONS.

4) Pregnant women, and children are especially vulnerable to the negative health impacts that result from long term chronic exposure to heavy pesticide use.

Therefore the strengthening and passage of SB3095 to ensure that there is mandatory disclosure for the largest users of RUPs, and that buffer zones are put into place around ALL schools and other sensitive areas is critically important.

Any legislators who question any of the above statements should review the below information.

 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency:“Exposure to a variety of pesticides have been linked to increased risk of birth defects.” http://bit.ly/2AdzXNK

American Pregnancy Association: “If you discover you are pregnant and you live near an agricultural area where pesticides are being used, it is advised you remove yourself to avoid exposure to these chemicals.”  http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pesticides/

National Institute of Health: “A significant association was found between the season of elevated agrochemicals and birth defects.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2667895/

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Chronic toxicity end points identified in epidemiologic studies include adverse birth outcomes including preterm birth, low birth weight, and congenital anomalies, pediatric cancers, neuro- behavioral and cognitive deficits, and asthma.” http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2012/11/21/peds.2012-2757.full.pdf

Families living near farming areas experience greatly increased rates of health disorders. This is the conclusion from the following report summarizing more than 25 peer reviewed scientific studies on this topic over the past 30 years. Illnesses found to occur at higher rates for people living close to agriculture include birth defects, brain cancer, autism, infertility, miscarriage, Parkinson’s Disease, immune system damage, leukemia, developmental brain damage in children, higher rates of child cancers, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, lupus and diabetes. https://www.chem-tox.com/agriculture/index.htm (cites numerous studies and research)

American Cancer Institute agricultural workers health study. “…the rates for certain diseases, including some types of cancer, appear to be higher among agricultural workers, which may be related to exposures that are common in their work environments. For example, farming communities have higher rates of leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and soft tissue sarcoma, as well as cancers of the skin, lip, stomach, brain, and prostate.”  https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/ahs-fact-sheet

California implements STATEWIDE PESTICIDE BUFFER ZONES AROUND SCHOOLS!“Because of health safety concerns, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently adopted rules that prohibit the application of pesticides on crops within a quarter-mile of K- through-12 schools or day care sites during working hours. The statewide regulations, which are similar to but more restrictive than Santa Barbara County’s already existing pesticide conditions, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.”  http://www.santamariasun.com/news/16799/growing-boundaries-state-further-restricts-pesticide-use-near-schools/

Chlorpyrifos-“Brain and Behavioral Effects of Prenatal Exposure to a Widely Used Pesticide” Virginia A. Rauh, ScD. COLUMBIA CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY  https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/translational/peph/webinars/neurodevelopment/brain_and_behavioral_effects_of_prenatal_exposure_to_a_widely_used_pesticide_508.pdf

Chlorpyrifos contaminates fisheries and whales: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/21/trump-administration-lawsuit-pesticide-orca-salmon

A good overview of pesticide impacts: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/dept/comguide/effects_excerpt.pdf

Multiple sources confirm a strong association between pesticide exposure and birth defects:  https://garyhooser.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/pesticides-birth-defects-who-do-you-believe/

The May 25, 2016 State/County Joint Fact Finding Group concluded: “there is simply not enough information to definitively conclude if its [pesticides] use by the seed companies plays any adverse role in the health of Kauai’s residents or environment.”  The report recommendsincreased testing, studies, buffer zones and other common-sense measures.  Testing and proper studies cannot be conducted without disclosure as to what is being used.  https://jffkauai.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/jff-kauai-final-report1.pdf

In Hawaii, those who apply Restricted Use Pesticides in fields near communities, parks, schools and roadways, are not required to disclose which pesticides they are applying, the location, date, or time in which they are applied, thus making it impossible for any individual to make a truly informed decision.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A letter to my granddaughter Isabella.

Dear Isabella,
On this, your very first birthday, I sit here in Hawaii typing you this note while you are in Japan thousands of miles away.
 
Your grandmother and I miss you very much today, and every day. But we see the pictures and videos of your smiling face that are sent to us regularly by your mom and dad.
 
When in the years ahead you look back on this message, the world without question will be very different from what it is today. I suspect FaceBook will be gone and telephone and video/tv communications will be taking place in a form that is unrecognizable and unfathomable to us today.
 
I want you to know that I am working hard today and every day to make sure that when you grow up and have children of your own, that you are able to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat food that is safe and healthy. I work also along with many friends who share the same concerns, to help make the world a little bit more fair for those people who have less and deserve more. I am both fearful of the direction our planet is going, and at the same time optimistic and inspired by the goodness, love and beauty of the world we are blessed to live in. My goal is that the world and the people in my community benefit from the time I have spent here, and I hope as the years unfold ahead of you that perhaps this goal might appeal to you as well.
 
In my dreams, you will return to Hawaii with your mom and dad to live near us and you will be able to enjoy the beauty of Hawaii and perhaps raise your family here as well. Maybe even on Kauai!
 
Until you do return, I hope you enjoy your time traveling the world. Please make sure your mom and dad read aloud to you every night and when it’s time to begin your schooling, please work hard and learn plenty! Your mother and father are great role models for you and I know they will be there for you whenever you need them. Always know also that your grandfather will drop his life in a heart beat to come help you, should you ever need him. Know that I will never be too busy to take your telephone call and be there to support or help, should you ever need me.
 
As you grow up, please set your goals high knowing that you can achieve anything at all that you set your eyes on, and that you are willing to work hard for. But know that success is not measured by money, but in service and in the good that you can accomplish in the world.
 
Your mother will always be my little girl, and you too now share that special place in my heart.
 
Please give your mom and dad a huge hug for me. And don’t forget to call us now and again! And, please call and visit once in a while your great-grandmother and grandfather in Alabama too! Of course, I know we have to share you with the Simmons family as well, and it gives me comfort to know that your circle of love and support is wide and strong.
 
Take care for now.
 
Love you girl.
 
Your grandpa,
Gary Hooser
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Good source documents for pesticide testimony:

 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency: “Exposure to a variety of pesticides have been linked to increased risk of birth defects.” http://bit.ly/2AdzXNK

American Pregnancy Association: “If you discover you are pregnant and you live near an agricultural area where pesticides are being used, it is advised you remove yourself to avoid exposure to these chemicals.”  http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pesticides/

National Institute of Health: “A significant association was found between the season of elevated agrochemicals and birth defects.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2667895/

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Chronic toxicity end points identified in epidemiologic studies include adverse birth outcomes including preterm birth, low birth weight, and congenital anomalies, pediatric cancers, neuro- behavioral and cognitive deficits, and asthma.” http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2012/11/21/peds.2012-2757.full.pdf

Families living near farming areas experience greatly increased rates of health disorders. This is the conclusion from the following report summarizing more than 25 peer reviewed scientific studies on this topic over the past 30 years. Illnesses found to occur at higher rates for people living close to agriculture include birth defects, brain cancer, autism, infertility, miscarriage, Parkinson’s Disease, immune system damage, leukemia, developmental brain damage in children, higher rates of child cancers, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, lupus and diabetes. https://www.chem-tox.com/agriculture/index.htm (cites numerous studies and research)

American Cancer Institute agricultural workers health study. “…the rates for certain diseases, including some types of cancer, appear to be higher among agricultural workers, which may be related to exposures that are common in their work environments. For example, farming communities have higher rates of leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and soft tissue sarcoma, as well as cancers of the skin, lip, stomach, brain, and prostate.”  https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/ahs-fact-sheet

California implements STATEWIDE PESTICIDE BUFFER ZONES AROUND SCHOOLS!“Because of health safety concerns, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently adopted rules that prohibit the application of pesticides on crops within a quarter-mile of K- through-12 schools or day care sites during working hours. The statewide regulations, which are similar to but more restrictive than Santa Barbara County’s already existing pesticide conditions, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.”  http://www.santamariasun.com/news/16799/growing-boundaries-state-further-restricts-pesticide-use-near-schools/

Chlorpyrifos-“Brain and Behavioral Effects of Prenatal Exposure to a Widely Used Pesticide” Virginia A. Rauh, ScD. COLUMBIA CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY  https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/translational/peph/webinars/neurodevelopment/brain_and_behavioral_effects_of_prenatal_exposure_to_a_widely_used_pesticide_508.pdf

Chlorpyrifos contaminates fisheries and whales: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/21/trump-administration-lawsuit-pesticide-orca-salmon

A good overview of pesticide impacts: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/dept/comguide/effects_excerpt.pdf

Multiple sources confirm a strong association between pesticide exposure and birth defects:  https://garyhooser.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/pesticides-birth-defects-who-do-you-believe/

The May 25, 2016 State/County Joint Fact Finding Group concluded: “there is simply not enough information to definitively conclude if its [pesticides] use by the seed companies plays any adverse role in the health of Kauai’s residents or environment.”  The report recommends increased testing, studies, buffer zones and other common-sense measures.  Testing and proper studies cannot be conducted without disclosure as to what is being used.  https://jffkauai.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/jff-kauai-final-report1.pdf

In Hawaii, those who apply Restricted Use Pesticides in fields near communities, parks, schools and roadways, are not required to disclose which pesticides they are applying, the location, date, or time in which they are applied, thus making it impossible for any individual to make a truly informed decision.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Words On Leadership

Hooser long shot on floor

Was invited to offer words of “reflection and contemplation” to the Hawaii State Senate this past Friday February 2, 2018. Mahalo to Senator Ihara for granting me this honor, and to Senate President Ron Kouchi and all of my former colleagues, friends and Senate associates for your gracious reception.

Paraphrase of my remarks:

“We are all leader’s and leadership comes in many forms. I encourage all in attendance today to think about the path of servant leadership. Leadership is about serving others. It is not about power, or money or position, but about helping and serving others.”

I then read aloud –  “A Leader’s Prayer” (no known attribution)

Leadership is hard to define.
Let us be the ones to define it in justice.
Leadership is like a handful of water.
Let us be the people to share it with those that thirst.
Leadership is not about watching and correcting.
Let us remember it is about listening, connecting and acting.
Leadership is not about telling people what to do.
Leadership is about finding out what people want and then helping them and empowering them to achieve that.
Leadership is less about the love of power and more about the power of love.

As we continue to move down the path of leadership, let us learn from and follow in the foot steps of those servant-leaders that have gone before us.

Let our greatest passion be compassion.
Our greatest strength love.
Our greatest victory the reward of peace.

In leading let us never fail to follow.
In loving, let us never fail.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A birthday ask that does not cost any money.

Aloha Friends,

I just completed my 64th trip around the sun and a big mahalo to all who sent birthday greetings!

I am making one more birthday ask today and it is not for money.  

Please contact your State Senator or State House Representative and let them know of your support of expanded pesticide regulation today, and if at all possible no later than the end of the day Wednesday January 31!

Your active participation is more important than a donation at this point.  Can you do this, please?

If you are unsure of who your Senator or Representative is or need their email address, click here and see in the upper right hand corner “Find your legislator”.  https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/members/legislators.aspx?chamber=all

A short note to TO YOUR DISTRICT SENATOR and REPRESENTATIVE requesting their support for increased pesticide regulation would be a huge help.

Our over-all goal with regards to pesticide regulation is to pass into law mandatory disclosure of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP’s), school pesticide free buffer zones, increased soil/water/air testing and a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos (a neurotoxin).   Please reference these items if possible, plus any other special concerns you might have.

Please do not underestimate the power you have to influence the Senator and Representative that lives and represents you, in your District.  Your call or email can make a difference.

I am also working on a variety of economic justice issues including; Increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, establishing paid family leave programs and blocking the tax loophole for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) and using the funds for affordable housing.  More on these later!

Oh…and that faux missile attack?  Please read here my thoughts on what Hawaii’s response should and must be…and the 6,000 lb. gorilla in the room that we must, as a community, begin discussing, soon.
https://garyhooser.wordpress.com/2018/01/19/4-things-hawaii-must-do-in-response-to-recent-ballistic-missile-scare/

Thank you!

Gary Hooser
http://www.garyhooser.com
Mahalo to all who have given those $64 donations!  I am trying to get out individual thank you letters, but the darn State legislature keeps getting in the way!
http://www.hapahi.org
https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

4 things Hawaii must do in response to recent ballistic missile scare

Providing leadership and support for a strong and conscientious movement toward global peace and the dismantling of all nuclear weaponry, must be Hawaii’s response to the events of this past Saturday morning.

To be clear, I believe in having a strong national defense. I know there are bad people in the world who want to hurt us, and we need to protect ourselves from those threats.

But hosting a vast nuclear arsenal is not the answer. And neither is it necessary for the United States to be the largest exporter of guns, tanks, bombs and military weapons in the world, supplying our enemies as well as our friends.

My father was a career Navy man and I grew up on military bases.  Members of my family currently serve in the military, and I am proud and thankful for their service.  But our national conversation needs to shift from investing in guns, bullets and missiles toward investing in diplomacy, human rights and the alleviation of poverty.

The ballistic missile attack that did not happen, should be our call to action.  Knowing we are personally vulnerable to the narcissistic and delusional games played by our obviously unstable so-called world leaders, is more than sufficient justification to at least try to take away their ballistic nuclear missiles.

Hawaii can lead the world conversation by starting here at home with an honest and open discussion about the large military presence in our islands and its impact on the environment, on our economy, and on our core value systems.

As the military presence in Hawaii grows, so does our attraction as a target.  When the testing and tracking of missiles transitions into the establishment of a launching site for missiles, our risk factor jumps exponentially.

This is our 6,000 lb gorilla in the room, and this is a conversation that must occur

As Ikaika Hussey tweeted on the day the missiles were not launched, “The world should remember that we’re not a target because of our unique history or cultures, but because of the way that the US has turned our islands into the command center for the Pacific fleet. Militarism is reducing, not enhancing, our security.”

Hawaii must seize this moment.

The launching of the ballistic missile that never happened, can, bizarrely enough, be the catalyst needed to propel our state forward as a leader in the effort to bring sanity and peace to the world.

Both local and global conversations must occur, and Hawaii can play a unique and important role in hosting and convening those discussions.  If we are serious about pulling our planet back from the edge we only recently had a taste of, we must embrace an active and leadership role toward peace.

Hawaii’s leaders at all levels must immediately and loudly proclaim their resolute support for a diplomatic resolution to the situation in North Korea. Our voices in Hawaii must unite with a message to all who hold the levers of global power to “stand down,” cease their military bluster and posturing, and come to the table of diplomacy and reason.

Hawaii as a “Geneva of the Pacific” is not a new idea and it is time now to breathe fresh life into it.

The University of Hawaii, Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution http://www.peaceinstitute.hawaii.edu was established in 1986.  This body has the potential to convene and host both local and global conversations to promote peace and the ultimate dismantling of nuclear weapons through-out the world.

This really is the only answer to the madness that engulfed us this past Saturday morning.

We can demand the firing, transfer, or forced retirement of all responsible for the debacle that occurred that day, and we should, for the mismanagement is inexcusable.

We can redesign the early warning systems and policies, and we should, as they were clearly inadequate.

We can blast President Trump for his irresponsible actions and comments that have exacerbated and unnecessarily inflamed the tension between North Korea and the United States, and yes we absolutely should as his conduct is also inexcusable.

But at the end of the day, we must work toward ending the constant escalation of conflict in the world, and certainly we must strive to rid the planet of nuclear weapons.

While it might sound pollyanna-ish to some, think about it for a moment.  What else are we going to do?  There are not enough storm drains in Hawaii to hold all of us.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

A Practical Guide To Problem Solving At The County Level

Problem solving and decision making by elected bodies can be complex, convoluted, and to some, a veritable conundrum.

Needless to say, in a political environment, the dynamics and pressures inhibiting the introduction of new out-of-the-box solutions are significant.

The most limiting factors involve money and risk. If a proposal costs money, it is always vigorously challenged. If it is a new idea and thus unproven, by definition it involves some risk, and will often be dead on arrival.

There is good news and bad news here. The bad news is that bold proposals and out of the box thinking are hard to come by in a political setting. The good news is that policy makers are forced to come up with solutions and ideas that minimize both expense and risk.

I believe Bill 2627, which is now before the Council Planning Committee, is such a measure. Full Disclosure: While on the Council in 2016, I was an original co-introducer, along with councilmember Mason Chock.

Bill 2627 deals with expanding affordable housing and represents a “pure policy” strategy that costs the County almost nothing. It is a strategy in place in other municipalities in Hawaii and the continental U.S. It therefore, seems to overcome the most significant roadblocks to lawmaking: cost and risk.

Alleviating the current severe lack of affordable housing is the goal. Housing availability, especially at the very low income levels is minimal to non-existent and affordable rentals near job centers are in huge demand.

While there are many strategies to address this issue, Bill 2627 deals with increasing the affordable housing inventory by allowing current homeowners in Lihue to build an Additional Rental Unit (ARU). If passed into law, it would allow existing homeowners in Lihue to build an additional unit, limited in size and intended as a rental to local residents. This additional unit could not be sold as a separate parcel or CPR.

Included in Bill 2627 are requirements and conditions intended to minimize negative or unintended consequences. Anyone desiring to build an ARU must be connected to a sewer system (no cesspool or septic systems allowed) and the homeowner must add at least one additional “off street” parking stall to their property.

Lihue is the targeted area for this proposal primarily because its development plan calls for increased density, and the town’s transportation infrastructure is being consciously developed in a “multi-modal” manner, with accommodations for walking and bike-riding.  Lihue is a “job center”, with the airport, harbor, hotels, government, and major shopping areas all located within relatively close proximity. In addition, Lihue has a “flow through” traffic design, offering drivers multiple options through town, thus lessening the gridlock that now occurs in many other areas.

Since this area has historically been a home for local residents and not a haven for tourists, vacation renters, or offshore investors, the majority of renters who eventually move into the ARU’s that are built will likely be local residents.

The results of this type of proposal in other municipalities have been mixed. Some additional housing has been added as intended, but there has not been a flood of units constructed. The risks of excessive density, additional cars and parking problems, have not been realized due to the slow implementation by the homeowners who qualify to build the new units. Some municipalities are considering offering further “incentives” to homeowners designed to encourage more rapid construction of the new rental units.

Even if only a modest amount of new rentals are added to Kauai’s housing inventory, that effort and policy change could be beneficial. For those worried that passing Bill 2627 could be too successful and result in the building of too many new rentals, I would argue further that this would be a good problem to have. However, in order to prevent that risk, the Council could put a “cap” on new units and/or a “sunset” on the legislation.

For further perspective consider that the raw cost of developing a single affordable unit by a private developer will range from $200,000 to $300,000 per unit thus the costs to the County, or any private developer, to create 100 new affordable units would be about $20 to $30 million. Bill 2627 has the potential to create that same 100 affordable rental units at almost zero cost to the county and the taxpayer.

The results if successful would be that 100 families have new affordable rental housing, 100 homeowners have new rental income, and 100 building crews have jobs and income while they build those homes. Again, this is all at no to minimal cost to the taxpayer. And if Bill 2627 is not successful? The only price is the cost of the Councilmembers’ time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment