Governor Ige signs SB3095 into law, banning all use of chlorpyrifos.


Governor Ige signs SB3095 into law, banning all use of chlorpyrifos.

Hawai‘i does what EPA failed to do: first U.S. ban on chlorpyrifos enacted into law

For immediate release: June 13, 2018

Honolulu, Hawai‘i: Hawai'i made history today when Governor David Ige, watched by representatives of the community from across the islands, signed into law Senate Bill 3095, banning all uses of chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxin that has been banned for home use for over 10 years because of its known impacts on the developing brains of children. This law also mandates 100 foot no-spray buffer zones around schools to protect children from open air spraying of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) during school hours. Chemical companies will have to report regularly on the RUPs they sprayed, when and where they sprayed, and in what quantities. This will allow impacted communities to access information about what they are being exposed to, and regulators to make informed decisions about protecting public health, the environment and endangered ecosystems.

This new law is the culmination of nearly six years of grassroots organizing by small, rural communities facing daily pesticide exposure, fighting lawsuits and millions spent on lobbying by the chemical companies. A coalition of families, teachers, scientists, health professionals, and advocates from the Hawai'i Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.), Hawai'i Center for Food Safety, Hawai‘i SEED, and Pesticide Action Network worked for years to push forward this legislation to protect our keiki, despite millions spent by the agrochemical industry to thwart the democratic process.  For the first time in the United States, this bill said NO to chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that can trace its origin to nerve agents developed by the Nazis in World War II.

“As a mother who agonized about the dangers of sending my children to a school next to Monsanto’s fields where RUPs were sprayed regularly, I am so grateful to see this bill become law,” said Molokai lawyer and activist, Keani Rawlins-Fernandez,

“This law is our message to the EPA and to the chemical companies that we will no longer tolerate being ground zero for the testing of toxic pesticides that are damaging our children’s health and poisoning our environment,” said Gary Hooser, former Majority Leader of the Hawai'i Senate, and founder of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action. Hooser, who lives on Kauai, led the “Protect our Keiki” coalition of diverse residents from across the islands through the complex political process that resulted in this much needed compromise law to regulate how highly toxic chemicals like chlorpyrifos are unleashed on the community.

“Hawaii’s efforts have set a precedent, and we hope this will pave the way for other states that are looking to enact similar legislation,” said  Leslee Matthews from Pesticide Action Network.

A win that will reverberate across the nation

“This is Hawai'i fighting back against the disrespect for science and public health—and winning! In the era of Trump, states must lead,” added Hooser.


Large agrochemical operations operate year round and take advantage of Hawaii’s three growing seasons.  Consequently, there are areas where communities are exposed daily to the impacts of open spraying of Restricted Use Pesticides. Local laws on each island to regulate pesticide use and protect public health were met with lawsuits by the chemical companies. The 9th Circuit court ruled in favor of the chemical companies and invalidated county regulations, arguing that only the state had the authority to pass such laws.

Hawaii sets precedent for other states

Today the state exercised that responsibility to protect its citizens.  Governor David Ige’s decision to sign the bill into law was an affirmation of how government is supposed to work when it listens to what the people need.  Hawai`i did what the Environmental Protection Agency failed to do. It responded to the abundant data and studies that point to the adverse effects of R.U.P.  Scientists, including some who had previously worked for the E.P.A. weighed in. Physicians weighed in, calling for a ban based on clear health impacts that they were seeing. Mothers, in tears about the terrible risk to their children’s health, weighed in. It was time to act. And Hawai`i did, with passage and enactment of SB3095 into law.

Press contacts:

Anne Frederick, Executive Director, H.A.P.A. | 808-212-9616 x1
Dawn Morais Webster: | 808-383-7581

Paul Towers, Organizing Director, PAN: | 916-216-1082


Hawaii Did What Pruitt's EPA Wouldn't.


Hawaii Did What Pruitt's EPA Wouldn't.


Hawaii did what Pruitt’s EPA wouldn’t.

Hawaii did what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Scott Pruitt had failed to do: it banned the neurotoxin chlorpyrifos that can trace its genealogy to nerve agents used in World War 1. It took several years of grassroots activism, ongoing court battles, and a high profile advocacy campaign by a determined coalition, as well as leadership from key legislative champions like Senator Russell Ruderman, Rep. Richard Creagan, Rep.Dee Morikawa, Senator Mike Gabbard, and Representative Chris Lee.

“There is much to celebrate,” said Gary Hooser, Founder President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.). “This was a compromise in which everyone’s voice was heard, and most importantly, the community’s well-founded fears about their health were addressed. Our families have some much-needed protections against powerful neurotoxins that we know are harming our children, pregnant women and families living close to test fields.”  

“In addition to banning chlorpyrifos, we fought hard for comprehensive reporting and no spray zones, and I am so pleased we got them,” said Lauryn Rego who serves on the advisory board of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety. “We have shown that toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos can and should be phased out of our environment. And agrichemical companies that use Hawaii as their open laboratory now must report to the Department of Agriculture what is being sprayed, how much is being sprayed, and when and where those applications occur. This reporting will create a wealth of valuable data for decision-makers and researchers. What we have had so far has been woefully inadequate,” she said.

Molokai mother, lawyer, activist, Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, whose child goes to an immersion school on Molokai that is across from Monsanto fields, welcomed the news. “At last! This is the beginning of the end of our worries about what our children are being exposed to,” she said.

The ban will take effect in January 2019. Companies that need more time to respond to the chlorpyrifos ban may apply for extensions via temporary permits which will be available only until 12/31/2022. After this date there will be no exceptions and chlorpyrifos will be banned from all use in the state of Hawaii. 

Legislators listened to scientists and doctors

In the lead up to this vote, the coalition had showcased the views of several scientists who have studied these pesticides, and doctors who have long advocated for a ban on chlorpyrifos. Doctors wrote and spoke of their first-hand encounters with various health conditions known to be linked to pesticide exposure in large studies.   Several physicians last year co-signed an appeal to the governor urging a ban on chlorpyrifos based on their concerns. They cited the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who noted that “the risk to infant and children’s health and development is unambiguous.” The Hawaii chapter of the Academy offered testimony in support of this measure.

Robust reporting requirements and public disclosure will enable better research and improved protections for public health and the environment.

The quantity and quality of the “individual entity reporting data” gathered annually has significant potential value for research, studies, and testing needs.  The Public Report Summary itself will provide the average resident and visitor with data to make basic decisions such as where to live or where their children should attend school.

“We have moved a step closer to addressing the huge risk posed by the spraying of restricted use pesticides. This is real progress in safeguarding the health of the community,” said Hooser. “We thank the legislators for doing the right thing to protect public health and we count on their continuing vigilance in managing and reining in reckless corporate behavior,” he said.  

“This was a law that was years in the making. Its time had come.” said Senator Ruderman, the bill's primary introducer, who along with co-introducers Senators Josh Green and Rep. Karl Rhoads, were among the earliest supporters of the bill.  “We have been guided by the belief that we must always put our keiki first. On that we should all agree.”

SB 3095 represents a turning point for Hawaii, and marks a new chapter for its residents and advocates in the Protect Our Keiki coalition who have repeatedly demanded protection against pesticide harms. The world’s largest agrichemical companies, such as Monsanto, Dow, and Syngenta, experiment and develop their genetically engineered crops in Hawaii. Because the majority of these crops are engineered to resist herbicides and pesticides, testing and development of these crops result in repeated spraying of dangerous chemicals. Many of their operations are adjacent to schools and residential areas, putting children and public health at risk. Voluntarily reported pesticide use data shows that these companies apply thousands of gallons and pounds of RUPs in Hawaii each year.




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DowDuPont is sponsoring a conversation on the future of food at the Atlantic

I recently learned that the Atlantic, a publication which I read on a regular basis, is hosting a conversation on the future of food called, Harvest: Transforming the Food We Eat sponsored by DowDuPont. We at HAPA felt that it was important to express our frustrations to the Atlantic that a publication with such high journalistic integrity would choose to align itself with DowDupont, a company that has so recklessly endangered members of our community, by spraying large quantities of restricted use pesticides next to homes, schools and other sensitive areas. Below is our response in a letter to the editor: 

February 11th, 2018

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to express my concern about an event this week, hosted by The Atlantic and underwritten by DowDuPont. The event is billed as a conversation about the future of food called Harvest: Transforming the Food We Eat

I am the Executive Director of the Hawai`i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA). HAPA is a statewide organization HAPA that emerged out of the community-led movement on Kaua`i to enact greater regulations around pesticide use and disclosure.

You may not be aware that Hawai`i, and in particular the island of Kaua`i, where we are headquartered, is the world epicenter for the testing of pesticides and genetically engineered seeds. The largest chemical corporations in the world, including DowDuPont, are using lands across Hawai`i to test pesticides and genetically engineered seeds near residential communities, schools, streams and the ocean. In many cases fields dedicated to generating experimental pesticide-resistant crops sit directly adjacent to schoolyards. Native Hawaiian communities are disproportionately impacted.

At this time, our communities do not have the most basic right to know what pesticides we are being exposed to, and when. We do not have the right to protect our children from Dow manufactured chemicals known to cause developmental delays by enacting modest buffer zones around our schools. Our communities located adjacent to Dowʻs test fields suffer disproportionately higher level of health impacts associated with pesticide exposure.

There are at least 27 schools in Hawai`i within a mile of commercial agricultural operations that apply large volumes of restricted-use pesticides (RUP), including DowDuPont’s. The American Academy of Pediatrics has found there to be a significantly increased health risk for children exposed to pesticides, and additional precautions must be taken to protect them from unintended exposure.

Your event sponsor, DowDuPont, is the lead manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, a dangerous neurotoxin. This pesticide is particularly concerning because several peer reviewed epidemiological studies have found that chlorpyrifos causes neurodevelopmental delays in fetuses and children. There is no safe level of exposure for children. This pesticide and many dangerous pesticides linked to adverse health outcomes are sprayed in large quantities next to schools, residences, waterways and other sensitive areas. In fact, the EPA was poised to ban chlorpyrifos for agricultural use prior to the Trump administration.

On two separate occasions in 2006 and 2008 Waimea Canyon Middle School on the Westside of Kaua`i was evacuated, and approximately 60 students were hospitalized, demonstrating symptoms of acute chlorpyrifos exposure. On each of those days, the pesticide application was so close to the school that teachers were able to capture cellphone videos of spray trucks from their classroom windows. In 2015, farmworkers on Kaua`i were sent to the hospital for chlorpyrifos exposure, leading the EPA to levy fines of $4.8M for farmworker safety violations.

Our community has repeatedly attempted to enact common sense regulations at the county and state level, only to be thwarted by DowDuPont and the agrochemical industry. In 2014, thousands of residents rallied on Kaua`i, Maui and Hawai`i Island to pass county level ordinances to regulate the agrochemical industry.

These regulations were not radical. For example, on Kaua`i, Bill 2491 required the largest users of restricted use pesticides to simply disclose what pesticides they use, to provide pre-notification prior to application, to respect modest buffer zones around schools and other sensitive areas, and to conduct environmental impact and health studies.

Following the passage of these county ordinances, DowDuPont and other agrochemical companies sued to overturn these regulations. In 2016, the Ninth Circuit court determined that only our state has the ability to regulate pesticides.

Our communities, healthcare providers, scientists and public health organizations continue to advocate at our state legislature for the basic right to know what pesticides we are exposed to and to protect our children and precious natural resources. However, this industry wields powerful political influence in our state government. Industry lobbyists outspend our grassroots community advocacy efforts and run their own slate of candidates. Industry representatives hold powerful positions in local government and on important regulatory boards and commissions.

As a reader of your publication, it is unsettling to learn that The Atlantic would align its brand with an industry that has so recklessly endangered the health and safety of our communities. I hope you will reconsider DowDuPont’s sponsorship, and stand in solidarity with our communities who are living on the frontline of these environmental injustices.

Thank you for your consideration.


Anne Frederick, Executive Director

Hawai`i Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A)


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Federal Court Ruling Places Responsibility on State to Protect Communities from Pesticides: Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals invalidated county ordinances in Kaua‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i Counties that sought to enforce public health protections associated with the high volumes of pesticides used by experimental genetically engineered seed operations in the Hawaiian islands. We expect immediate action from both the State legislature and the governor to enact protections. All of the energy that went into passing these laws on the neighbor islands will now be united and directed to the State.  People aren't going to stop until our islands and the people are protected.  READ MORE.

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