I was honored when Lorilani, PAN’s organizer for the Hawai‘i Region, asked if I would write the introduction to this edition of Hawai‘i News. I have had the opportunity to be a guest on the island of Kaua‘i and I take the responsibility (kuleana) that comes with visiting seriously. It is my intent to walk lightly and live respectfully in another’s home.
I call the Land Between Two Rivers (Iowa) my home and I see myself as a child of that land (keiki o ka ‘āina). I do my best to respect and care for the land (mālama i ka ‘āina) as a grower of healthy food and a citizen of my local community. I listen to the Oak and the Goldfinch and I marvel at the life in our soils.
I feel a kinship with Hawai‘i because I feel the goodness of the land when I visit the islands, just as I do when I walk in the woods or cultivate the soil in Iowa. The blue skies beckon me, water brings life from the Earth, and there are good people who seek to honor and protect all of this for their communities and their children.
I also feel the pain when I realize corporations are harming the places we love. I live in a state where we have access to acres and acres of some of the best soil in the world, but we find ourselves importing food for our people at a similar rate as is seen in Hawai‘i. The land is abused, the water and air are polluted, and the people often feel isolated in their efforts to stop the desecration.
This is why I believe the struggles of the people in Hawai‘i are also my struggles. I can stand with you even if I am not of the island, (kamaʻāina) because we are all children of the land. We all have a vision of how much better things could be. Together, we can gain strength and make a difference.
Mahalo nui for being willing to consider my thoughts and words. Be well.
PAN’s Communications Manager
Owner/Operator, Genuine Faux Farm, Tripoli, IA
Pesticides, Public Health and the Right to Know
In January, the Protect Our Keiki Coalition – of which PAN is a member – co-hosted a meeting in Whitmore Village on the island of Oahu with State House Representative Perruso. Approximately fifty community members attended, and discussion focused on Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP) on central and north Oahu.
Recent data shows that central Oahu suffers from the heaviest application rates of these chemicals in all of Hawai‘i. Over 215,000 pounds of RUPs were applied in this region during 2019 alone, approximately 60% of RUPs applied in Hawai‘i during this time period.
There are steps that can be taken to help address this problem:
- Pesticide regulation policies must support additional monitoring and improve existing RUP reporting requirements.
- Greater protections are needed to ensure chemical drift is not impacting public health or sensitive natural areas.
- Pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, must be reclassified as Restricted Use Pesticides.
View the presentation and the meeting in its entirety here, and keep reading to learn about active bills in the legislature that begin to address these issues.
Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) Director, Anne Frederick, welcomes an overflowing room of community members in Whitmore Village. Fern Holland, HAPA’s Organizer, presented on Restricted Use Pesticides to this affected community. Data was collected by the Center for Food Safety and compiled into a report by HAPA. Partners HI Seed and PAN coordinated to provide the organic and farm-cultivated dinner to those in attendance.
2023 Legislative Session
There are several bills of interest in this legislative session that are related to Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP). We encourage you to participate by letting your representatives know that you support the passage of these bills to better protect our keiki, our communities, and the land.
Our partners at Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) are providing website access with links to appropriate legislation and opportunities to speak in support of these bills.
- House Bill 251 (HB251) and Senate Bill 1009 (SB1009) seek to reclassify neonicotinoid pesticides as Restricted Use Pesticides.
- Another bill of interest supports the establishment of a ½ mile buffer zone around schools and public parks. This bill is still active in both the House (HB254) and the Senate (SB1524).
- House Bill 253 (HB253) seeks to improve reporting requirements for Restricted Use Pesticides by including geo-spatial data and monthly reports.
L-R: Lorilani Keohokalole, PAN organizing co-director, Hawai‘i; Welina Wong, 8th grader & community advocate; Megan Wong, Resilience Kaua‘i founder; Bea Ka’aumoana, 8th grader & community advocate; Paulina Barsotti, farm manager and chef; Kaua‘i County Council Member, Felicia Cowden and Joelle Edwards, of Waniha Market and HCAN Kaua‘i. Witnessing the first “in-person” opening of the 2023 Hawai’i State Legislative session in three years. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate swore in their respective leadership and opened their offices up to the public. Our humble wāhine group, all leaders in their communities, were able to join the hundreds of community folks at the State Capitol visiting the offices of many representatives and senators.
West Kaua‘i hydro project
A lawsuit was filed this month by West Kaua‘i kalo farmers and subsistence fishers in response to a hydroelectric project on the Waimea River, as the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) failed to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Instead, the project’s environmental assessment claimed there was a “finding of no significant impact” to the Waimea River and surrounding areas. This assessment was approved by the outgoing DLNR Chairperson without any public hearings.
The project is expected to divert approximately 11 million gallons of water a day from the Waimea River for the next 65 years. The impact of the water discharge onto the Mānā Plain as the water makes its way to the ocean is not discussed in the environmental assessment.
“We’re not opposed to clean energy, but we are opposed to diverting and dumping river water for energy,” said John Aʻana, Pōʻai Wai Ola Vice President and longtime kalo farmer. “Bottom line, an EIS is required for this once-in-a-lifetime project and is needed to disclose and analyze all these details for the community and public.”
PACTPA reintroduced in US Senate
The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act (PACTPA) was reintroduced in the US Senate by Senator Cory Booker on February 6 and is due to be introduced in the House mid-March. We are pleased to announce that PAN is among the organizations that support its passage! This bill would overhaul US pesticide regulations, ultimately mandating new rules to protect people and the environment. The full text of the bill can be found here.
Much of the language found is this bill could provide a template for the upcoming Farm Omnibus Bill. In particular, there is language that would prevent the override of local pesticide restrictions by state governments.
Learn more about PACTPA here, and please take action by asking your Senator to support this important bill!
Each month, progressive action network and phone company CREDO designates three causes to donate to – and this month, PAN has been chosen! But we need your help.
Can you take a minute to vote for PAN? The more votes we get, the greater our share of funding. Your vote would support healthy communities, climate justice, and farming practices that nourish our people and environment.
Thank you for helping us make the most of this opportunity!