Governor Neil Abercrombie's Announcement on Bill 2491 Called Weak
Governor’s Announcement Raises Concern and Suspicion by Kauai Residents. “Voluntary Disclosure” of Pesticide Use Called “Weak,” and “Not A Substitute” for Strong County Mandates of Bill 2491.
Kauai residents reacted strongly to Governor Neil Abercrombie’s announcement on September 23, which requests agricultural entities to voluntarily disclose their “aggregated usage” of Restricted Use Pesticides until such time as rules and legislation are developed in the future. The Governor also stated that he would generally work with the State Legislature to seek funding for state agencies to address pesticide use compliance, without any further specific commitment.
This announcement comes days before the Kauai County Council is set to deliberate on Bill 2491, which provides for mandatory disclosure of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) by Kauai’s heaviest agricultural users, along with specific protections for Kauai children and families against the risks of pesticide exposure. These protections include buffer zones, a health and environmental study on the specific impacts of seed/agrochemical industry practices on Kauai, temporary moratoria on expansion, and other provisions.
Entities regulated under Bill 2491 are the agrochemical companies Dow Agrosciences, Syngenta, BASF and Pioneer (DuPont), along with one food-producing entity, Kauai Coffee.
“It seems that the Governor has started to realize the seriousness of the pesticide issues on Kauai,” said Gary Hooser, Kauai County Council Member and co-sponsor of Kauai County Bill 2491. “But the measures announced by the Governor are woefully inadequate to properly protect the people of Kauai. The Governor’s unspecific promises are certainly not a replacement for the strong set of mandates and protections that would be guaranteed under Bill 2491.”
While the Governor’s announcement states that his office collaborated with a “Kauai Legislative Delegation” and “farmers,” to date, none of the many leaders active in promoting Bill 2491 were consulted or solicited for feedback on the Governor’s proposed “steps to address the concerns of the community.” Council Member Hooser expressed surprise and disappointment that neither he nor Bill 2491 co-sponsor, Council Member Tim Bynum were consulted by the Governor’s office regarding the September 23 announcement.
“There was no transparency by the Governor here,” said Fern Rosensteil of Ohana O Kauai. “There has been a continual lack of responsiveness from the state until now, when the people of Kauai are finally taking matters into their own hands. We can only conclude that the Governor’s announcement is a purposeful attempt to undermine the momentum of our people.”
“The people of Kauai cannot wait for the State’s wheels to turn on weak, undefined promises,” said Andrea Brower, an advocate and researcher on sustainability and food security issues on Kauai. “There have been serious health and environmental concerns in regards to the pesticide-seed industry for years. When the County is finally making progress on beginning to address the issue, the sudden move by the Governor for ‘voluntary action’ is weak at best, and a derailment at worst.”
From 2010-2012, Dow, Syngenta, BASF and Pioneer have collectively applied over 98-percent of the total RUPs used in the agricultural sector. Since the launch of Bill 2491, doctors and medical professionals have testified about elevated incidents of birth defects, respiratory and endocrine abnormalities and elevated rates of cancer, particularly in areas of heaviest RUP use in west Kauai. Citizen testing of waters near west Kauai agricultural fields have revealed levels of Atrazine in excess of regulatory limits.
The time for state gesturing and political maneuvering is over,” said activist Dustin Barca, a leader in the efforts to educate communities on pesticide use on Kauai, “Real, firm mandates on pesticide disclosure are close at hand. We will press on for County Council approval for Bill 2491 because our children and the aina (land) cannot and will not wait.”
Are you disappointed by this attempted derailment of Bill 2491 by the Governor? Then take action. Contact Kauai council members and tell them, “We are not doing business as usual.” and that, “The council needs to pass Bill 2491.”
1. Write again to Council Members Mel Rapozo, Ross Kagawa, Nadine Nakamura, JoAnn Yukimura and Jay Furfaro at [email protected].
Urge them to press on with Bill 2491 and show us what they are made of. Urge Council Members not to bow their heads, wipe their hands of direct responsibility, or collaborate with weak attempts by the Governor to derail the biggest, most effective people’s movement in Kauai’s recent history.
Tell Council Members that the Governor’s announcement for “voluntary disclosure” is not a replacement for the real provisions of Bill 2491 and not to shortchange our keiki and the future of our island with weak excuses for inaction.
2. Sign this E-Petition on the Pesticide Action Network and send it to at least 10 friends far and wide. Post this petition link to your Facebook page, blog, website and e-lists. We’re counting on our friends now more than ever!