State, EPA reach agreement on how to implement law aimed at regulating pesticide use

Hawaii became the first state to ban the use of pesticides containing the chemical...
Hawaii became the first state to ban the use of pesticides containing the chemical chlorpyrifos. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Published: Jun. 4, 2019 at 5:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The federal government is making sure Hawaii families can track which pesticides are being used in their communities and exactly where.

The Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with the state Department of Agriculture on how to implement Act 45, which was signed by the governor last year.

The act bans pesticides containing chlorpyrifos from being used, and it established buffer zones around schools, limiting where pesticides can be applied.

The agreement was prompted by a lawsuit from the group Earthjustice. Environmentalists and Native Hawaiian groups claimed pesticides were being used in areas they shouldn’t have been.

“A lot of the major spraying operations were occurring right next to Native Hawaiian communities, include Hawaiian homestead residences on Molokai and West Kauai," said Kylie Wager, Earthjustice attorney.

“And so we think it’s very important that the EPA takes a really close look at the Department of Agriculture’s practices to make sure there are no discriminatory impacts to Native Hawaiian communities.”

The state issued the following statement:

“Following a preliminary inquiry, EPA made no findings of discrimination and did not require HDOA to engage in any substantive corrective actions. 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.”

Earthjustice says the new agreement implements procedures for discrimination grievances, and requires discrimination training for state agriculture workers.

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