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Maui Senators Move on Pesticides and Oxybenzone Bills

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Maui Senate Delegation: Sen. Gil Keith-Agara, Sen. Roz Baker and Sen. J Kalani English.

Bills regulating pesticide use and protecting Hawai‘i’s coral reefs advanced in conference committee ahead of Friday’s final decking deadline.

Senate Bill 2571 SD2 HD1 CD1 (Relating to Water Pollution) bans the sale, offer of sale, or distribution in the State of any sunscreen that contains oxybenzone or octinoxate, or both, without a prescription issued by a licensed healthcare provider in order to preserve the State’s marine ecosystems. The bill also delays the effective date of the ban until Jan. 1, 2021 to allow for the reformulation of sunscreen to prevent further increase of skin cancer in Hawaiʻi.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate in the marine environment have been shown to increase coral bleaching and kill developing coral. This measure is a step towards preserving Hawai‘i’s marine ecosystem which is both a cultural foundation and an economic investment.


“Coral reefs are one of Hawaiʻi’s most precious natural resources, ” said Senator Gil Keith-Agaran (Dist. 5 – Central Maui). “Fishing continues to be a means of subsistence for many around the State and this measure ensures that our coral reefs are able to provide food for future generations.”

“Hawaiʻi continues to be a leader in the protection of our environment, ” said Senator Rosalyn Baker (Dist. 6 – South and West Maui). “The delay of the effective date of the ban allows for the reformulation of sunscreen to protect Hawaiʻi’s people from skin cancer.”

“In rural districts such as mine, the ocean continues to be a source of life and sustenance for many,” said Senator J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe). “SB2571 directly aligns with our legislative priority to support policies that aim to reduce pollution and enhance ocean-related management.”


Senate Bill 3095 SD1 HD1 CD1 (Relating to Environmental Protection) addresses a concern that had parents rallying across the state by restricting pesticide use near schools, banning some pesticides completely, and expanding outreach for the proper use of pesticides.

The bill would prohibit the use of pesticides within 100 feet of a school during instructional hours and it would totally ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos effective January 1, 2019. The bill appropriates $300,000 from the Pesticides Revolving Fund for expenses including staffing, education and outreach. It also provides a $300,000 appropriation from general revenues to develop a pesticide drift monitoring study to evaluate pesticide drift at three schools within the state. The bill also requires commercial agricultural entities to regularly report their pesticide use.

“The Senate worked with the community to draft legislation that would ensure that the frail and young would not be overly exposed to toxic pesticides” said Sen. Baker. “We have spent many years working on this particular issue and we appreciate the community support to bring this issue to fruition.”


“Mandatory reporting of pesticide use by commercial agricultural entities was what many people wanted,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran. “Residents have a right to know what chemicals are being sprayed near their homes, schools and in their community.”

“Hawaiʻi will become the first state in the nation to ban the use of chloropyrifos,” said Sen. English. “The community has voiced their concern regarding this particular measure and I am glad that we were able to address it through the passage of SB3095.”

The Senate adopted the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as its legislative priorities for the 2018 session. SB 2571 SD2 HD1 CD1 and SB 3095 SD1 HD1 CD1 are in direct alignment with Goals 14 (Life Below Water) and 15 (Life on Land) of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The two bills now move to both chambers for a final vote.

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