Trump’s EPA Greenlighted a Pesticide That Harms Kids’ Brains. Hawaii Just Said, “Hell No.”

The state just enacted a ban on chloripyrifos, a neurotoxic chemical used in agriculture.

In the early months of the Trump Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency reversed an Obama-era proposal to ban the widely used insecticide chlorpyrifos, which has been linked by ample research to inhibited brain development in children. 

On Wednesday, the state of Hawaii pushed back. Gov. David Ige signed Senate Bill 3095 bill into law, banning chlorpyrifos, which is produced by chemical giant DowDuPont, starting on January 1, 2023. Until then, anyone wanting to apply the chemical will have to obtain a temporary permit from the state’s agriculture department.

The bill also places new bans the spraying of “restricted use” pesticides within 100 feet of schools during school hours. Restricted use pesticides are those chemicals deemed by the EPA to be so toxic that can only be used by trained applicators on particular crops. Chlorpyrifos is on the list

The new law was pushed by a coalition of Hawaiian environmental groups. It marks the latest battle in their long conflict with the seed/agrichemical industry, which tests novel crops and pesticides on several of the state’s islands, most prominently Kauai. Back in 2013, the county of Kauai passed an ordinance requiring the industry to maintain buffer zones between between fields where pesticides are applied and neighboring properties, as well as regularly disclose what they’re spraying and where they’re spraying it. Syngenta and other seed companies sued to nix the law, arguing it preempted much looser state restrictions, and ultimately won. 

Leslee Matthews, Honolulu-based policy fellow with Pesticide Action Network, which helped organize support for the chlorpyrifos bill, said the push to ban the chemical will now turn to the mainland. “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,” she said in a statement.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.