A bill aimed at reducing the interisland spread of invasive species was deferred in a state House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection Tuesday.
Kailua Reps. Chris Lee and Cynthia Thielen, EEP chairmen, voted that Senate Bill 2347 be deferred.
The bill, which included language that would have established a fine to commercial entities that were found transporting the pests equal to the value of the infested shipment, sparked concern among Big Island nurseries.
SB 2347 would have put the state Department of Agriculture in charge of identifying infested areas, providing information about managing and mitigating the pest populations and working with commercial entities to implement the practices.
The DOA filed the following testimony Tuesday:
“The Hawaii Department of Agriculture appreciates the intent of this bill but would ask that the bill be deferred to allow for more discussion with affected industries to come up with a comprehensive approach that will mitigate the effects on industry while still preventing the spread of invasive species. …
“Requirements for intrastate movement of any regulated article may carry pests should be practical while maintaining necessary safeguards and precautions to minimize the further spread of pests and the Department wishes to dialogue with industry to better understand the impact of any new regulations.”
Eric Tanouye, president of Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association and vice president of Green Point Nurseries, said he’s pleased with the decision by the EEP committee.
“I think we all need to work together to solve this community and state and agriculture problem,” he said.
Sen. Russell Ruderman, a Puna Democrat, agreed that the bill be deferred.
“We do need to pay attention that it’s an urgent problem but all the costs fall on the Big Islanders, which are the victims of these invasive species,” he said. “We’re not the one who brought them in, and the cost needs to be shared by the people that are being protected.”
The Department of Land and Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy were among those that issued testimony in support of SB 2347, which also included language about enhancing interstate inspection and designating quarantine areas.
Email Megan Moseley at firstname.lastname@example.org.