Syngenta Seeds, Inc. v. County of Kauai, No. 14-16833 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
After Kauai County passed Ordinance 960 to regulate pesticides and genetically engineered (GE) plants, plaintiffs filed suit challenging the Ordinance. Plaintiffs are companies that supply seed for GE plants. The Ordinance requires commercial farmers to maintain “buffer zones” between crops to which pesticides are applied and certain surrounding properties, provide notifications before and after applying pesticides, and file annual reports disclosing the cultivation of GE crops. The Hawaii Pesticides Law, HRS Ch. 149A, and its implementing rules also regulate pesticides, including by imposing notification requirements and conditions of use, such as locations of permissible use. The district court held that the Ordinance's pesticide provisions are preempted by Hawaii state law. The court concluded that the Hawaii Pesticides Law preempts Ordinance 960's pesticide provisions because both address the same subject matter, the State's scheme for the regulation of pesticides is comprehensive; and the legislature clearly intended for the State’s regulation of pesticides to be uniform and exclusive. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendants’ motion to certify the preemption issues to the Hawaii Supreme Court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's conclusion that the Hawaii Pesticides Law impliedly preempts Ordinance 960’s pesticide provisions; affirmed the district court’s conclusion that Hawaii law impliedly preempts Ordinance 960’s GE crop reporting provision in a concurrently filed memorandum disposition; and affirmed the district court’s denial of defendants’ motion to certify.