EPA Takes Up Hawaii Pesticide Discrimination Case

March 9, 2017, 11:17 PM

The EPA has pledged to investigate allegations that Hawaii’s agriculture department discriminated against Native Hawaiians by neglecting to investigate pesticide poisonings in poor communities.

The agency will specifically look into whether the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corp. violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act in leasing lands to agricultural companies growing seed corn in West Kaua’i and Moloka’i, where farmworkers and residents living nearby can be exposed to drifting pesticide spray.

The Environmental Protection Agency also will investigate whether the department—which receives nearly $800,000 annually in federal funding—failed to implement required anti-discrimination policies.

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