The House committees on Agriculture and Energy & Environmental Protection advanced a bill for a complete ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos during a hearing at the State Capitol on Thursday.
HB 1756 bans the import, use, manufacture, sale, and storage of chlorpyrifos in the state. The bill also seeks to protect workers who mix and apply the chemical and are exposed to unsafe levels of the pesticide.
“The profits of the chemical companies are going up and the IQs of our babies, of our keiki, are going down,” said Agriculture Committee Chair Rep. Richard P. Creagan (Nāʻālehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakehua, Kailua-Kona). “We have an epidemic of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders in children and chlorpyrifos is one of the contributing factors.”
Energy & Environmental Protection Chair Rep. Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimānalo) said there are passionate opinions on both sides of the pesticide debate.
“What we need to do is have respect for each other, find out the facts, and do what is best for the people of Hawaiʻi,” Rep. Lee said. “Farmers want to protect their livelihoods, but families have a right to live free from the harmful effects of pesticides.”
Hawaiʻi Island Rep. Creagan said some farmers don’t support this ban because they want to continue using a pesticide they have become accustomed to, but he said this chemical is proven to be dangerous.
“The EPA banned chlorpyrifos for indoor use over a decade ago,” Creagan said. “The EPA in our country had thousands of pages of damning evidence and were ready to ban chlorpyrifos for all food uses when Scott Pruitt was appointed (EPA Administrator) by President Trump and scrapped that plan. Enough is enough! We cannot wait for a compromised EPA to act. It is time to ban this close cousin of the nerve agent Sarin. We are treating our babies like the Syrian dictator Assad is treating his own civilians. It is time we stop bowing to the dictates of the chemical companies. We need to draw our own line in the sand that surrounds our islands.”
The bill now moves to the Consumer Protections & Commerce, and Finance committees.