Does the Kauai County Council have the legal authority to require biotech companies to disclose specifics about their pesticide use?
Can the county require buffer zones between fields that are being sprayed with pesticides and public areas, such as schools and roads?
Can it require studies on the effects of pesticides and GMOs on human health and the environment?
These questions have been at the forefront of the debate over Bill 2491. Attorneys for the bitoech companies have said in past hearings that the county doesn’t have this power and that aspects of the bill could be overturned in a legal battle because they are “vague and ambiguous” or amount to an “illegal taking” of property.
But a cadre of local attorneys are now speaking out in support of the county’s authority to implement the bill, which was amended on Friday to focus more narrowly on pesticides.
In a statement released Wednesday, nine attorneys say that County council members should not be swayed by the biotech industry’s threats of lawsuits.
The statement reads in part:
No thoughtful, experienced attorney will offer blanket assurances about how any lawsuit will be decided, and the bill presents some cutting-edge legal issues. But the State expressly granted the County the authority to protect the health, life, and property of its people from just these kinds of threats. No law expressly prohibits the County from taking this action, and no court cases clearly block the County from passing and implementing this Bill. Moreover, ordinances with similar provisions have been passed elsewhere and have not been successfully challenged.
We believe that Bill 2491 is sound, and the mere threat of a lawsuit by industry interests should not prevent the Council from taking action they believe is