If they really wanted to, the Hawaii legislature and/or the Department of Agriculture could ban chlorpyrifos today.
In yesterdays April 2nd Honolulu Star-Advertiser headlined “Push to ban insecticide builds at Legislature, Rep. Chris Lee Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee is quoted as saying “We have an obligation as elected officials at the state level to take action to protect our people when the federal government won’t.”
Not to be left out of the good intentions, Senator Mike Gabbard Chair of the Senate Agriculture said according to the newspaper article “that he would support an effort to ban chlorpyrifos.”
The story further reported that even the Director of Agriculture, Scott Enright was jumping on the ban chlorpyrifos bandwagon and now also supports banning this nasty neurotoxin that has already been banned nationally for residential use.
But of course the touch of reality came from Representative Richard Creagan Chair of the House Agriculture Committee saying, “As much as I would like to ban chlorpyrifos this year, I don’t anticipate that happening.” He called the EPA decision not to ban this restricted use pesticide “egregious”.
So key leaders in both the House and the Senate, plus the Director of Agriculture all support the banning of chlorpyrifos but yet the conclusion is, not now maybe later.
It seems our legislative leaders have concluded that we have run out of time and the rules don’t allow making an actual ban happen this year. Maybe next year is the thought.
I beg to differ. There is a vehicle in SB804HD1 which is still alive awaiting a hearing in House Finance.
SB804HD1 contains language pertaining to chlorpyrifos and is titled Relating To Pesticides and could be amended in House Finance to become a ban, if there was the political will do do so.
If the legislatures rules prevent this measure from being the vehicle for any reason, the House and the Senate can change the rules. They do this all the time.
But they won’t. Because as nice as the words sound and as sincere as the intent might be, the leadership in the Hawaii House and Senate operate on a premise that the industry position is the one that prevails. And House/Senate leadership is supported/enabled by the majority.
If Speaker of the House Joe Souki and President of the Senate Ron Kouchi wanted to pass a ban on chlorpyrifos and protect our health and environment it could happen this year.
As things now stand given the current makeup of the House and Senate, it will not happen this year or next because the driving force behind all of this is the corporate power and influence of the 4 companies that actually make, sell and use the vast majority of this chlorpyrifos in Hawaii – Dow AgroScience, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.
The industry drives the agenda. Zero Bills ever pass that attempt to regulate them, even those as embarrassingly weak as the existing language contained within SB804HD1. The industry is in charge and the industry will have none of it. Nothing, zero, nada.
If the Governor and his Department of Agriculture head Scott Enright really wanted to ban chlorpyrifos they don’t even have to wait for the legislature as this could also be accomplished via executive order and rule-making. The truth is they don’t really want to ban or regulate anything against the wishes of these large companies, and these companies do not support and will not support ANY attempts to increase their regulation.
So with all due respect to my friends at the legislature and at the governors office, this is all shibai – kabuki smoke and mirrors political bullshit.
Chlorpyrifos is a known neurotoxin used by the ton in Hawaii, banned in many other countries, and banned already in America for residential use. This is the same restricted use pesticide that Syngenta workers were hospitalized for after being exposed on Kauai resulting in a $4.8 million civil action against the company by the EPA. It is also the same chemical that was being sprayed in the fields directly next to the Waimea Canyon Middle School the day the kids got sick. Chlorpyrifos has been detected in air and water samples and even in a bee hive recently tested on Kauai.
Chlorpyrifos is used on all islands and the science is unequivocal. This is a nasty, nasty pesticide that has been proven to inhibit the brain development of the developing fetus as well as a long list of other severely negative health impacts – EVEN WHEN EXPOSED TO VERY SMALL AMOUNTS.
The legislature and/or the governor could take action to ban chlorpyrifos today. Please take the time today to call your district House Representative (look it up) and House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke 808-586-6200 and ask that SB804HD1 be scheduled and amended to ban chlorpyrifos. Please call BOTH as BOTH are responsible.
When your district Rep tells you “There is nothing I can do as it is up to the House Finance Chair.” Please confirm that they do in fact support banning chlorpyrifos, and then ask them to also call the House Finance Chair and request a hearing. An individual House member calling the House Finance Chair to request a hearing is common practice and they should not resist this simple act (if they are sincere in their support of a ban).
Finally, when they tell you “we missed the deadline” or, “the rules don’t allow that” – Please remind them gently but firmly that “you guys make the rules” and “you guys can change the deadlines”.