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Priorities of the Environmental Caucus include emissions reduction, sustainable agriculture, Red Hill, and Red Hill.

Priorities of the Environmental Caucus include emissions reduction, sustainable agriculture, Red Hill, and Red Hill.

Environmental Caucus priorities include emissions reduction, sustainable ag, Red Hill

Pacific Biodiesel sunflower crop. PC: file Maui Now image.

The Hawaii State Legislature’s Environmental Legislative Caucus is entering its third year with policy proposals that aim to address the state’s pressing environmental issues.

The package includes an amendment to the State Constitution’s Bill of Rights to include:

  • You have the right to a healthy and clean environment.
  • Implementation of energy efficiency measures that are cost-effective for state facilities.
  • Updated decarbonization targets.
  • Regenerative agriculture and soil health initiatives.
  • Conversion requirements for cesspools and tax credits.
  • Visitors will be charged green fees to help fund programs and services that promote conservation, natural resource protection, management of state parks, and trails.
  • Establishment of the Hawaii agriculture carbon positive incentive program
  • Provide emergency medical and rehabilitation services to native wildlife that has been negatively affected by activities within habitat conservation areas.
  • A carbon fee and a dividend program
  • Red Hill continues to leak fuel.

“The climate crisis is one of Hawaii’s most pressing issues, and the clock is ticking for Hawaii to take bold action,” said Rep. Nicole E. Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokhau), Co-Chair of the Environmental Caucus. “The bills in this package propose solutions to reduce our carbon footprint, protect Hawaii’s natural resources, and improve the quality of life for residents. This package is a collaborative effort and builds from the work and priorities set forth by the Majority Caucus.”

Sen. Mike Gabbard (Kapolei, Makakilo, portions of Ewa, Kalaeloa, Waipahu), Co-Chair of the Environmental Caucus, said “Hawaii is in a unique position to set the standard for environmental legislation. If the green amendment is approved, it would give a solid foundation to push for more climate and environmental action in the future. The two bills related to regenerative farming will ensure that we are mindful of the environment as we diversify our economy from tourism. The coronavirus pandemic has emphasized the need to diversify Hawaii’s economy to decrease our reliance on the tourism industry. Increasing soil health and supporting local agriculture is one way that we can do that.”

One of the supported bills aims to establish a carbon tax on fossil fuels, which would return the money to Hawaii residents. “Dozens of eminent economists have endorsed a policy that taxes carbon and returns revenues to taxpayers,” said Sen. Karl Rhoads (Dowsett Highlands, Puunui, Nuuanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl, Plama, Liliha, Iwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown). “A recent study by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization on how this carbon tax and dividend policy would affect Hawaii shows that it would reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, while financially benefiting most Hawaii households. Low-income households would experience the greatest financial benefit.”

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A resolution which urges the United States Navy to decommission and prepare remediation efforts for the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility is also on the ELC’s priority list. “The Red Hill facility sits over the ground aquifer which provides almost all of Oahu’s drinking water. In the next five years, there is an estimated 80% chance of another leak occurring,” said Rep. Sonny Ganaden (Kalihi Kai, Sand Island, Hickam, Pearl Harbor, Ford Island, and Hlawa Valley Estate). “We must take immediate action. It simply cannot be overstated how important water is for us here on the islands and it is our kuleana to protect it.”

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The Package of the 2022 Environmental Legislative Caucus Bill Bill includes the following measures:

This bill will update the state’s decarbonization goals, requiring that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by 70% by 2030. It will also direct the Hawaii State Energy office (Hawaii State Energy office) to examine pathways and make recommendations for achieving this goal.

This bill will add a section to the Bill of Rights section of constitution to recognize and protect all people’s rights to clean water, air, stable climate, and a healthy environment.

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This bill will promote soil health-enhancing agricultural practices. These practices will increase soil health, sequester carbon, increase water infiltration, enhance wildlife and pollinator habitat, and result in higher profits and sometimes better yields.

This bill will create fees for non-resident environmental users who visit Hawaii to use public beaches and parks. This fee will fund workforce programs and services that focus on conservation, natural resources protection, and management state parks and trails.

This law will require state facilities implement cost-effective energy efficiency measures. It also requires that all new state buildings be designed to maximize energy and water efficiency and use materials that reduce the project’s carbon footprint.

This resolution asks the United States Navy for a plan to decommission Red Hill Bulk fuel Storage Facility, store its fuel in safe conditions to avoid contamination, and create a new water-treatment facility.

This bill will require cesspool transformation at the point where a property is sold. It also establishes a tax credit to assist with cesspool converts.

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This bill requires that all activities that have a high probability of causing injury to or death to wildlife protected by law develop habitat conservation plans to ensure that wildlife is cared for and rehabilitation.

  • Carbon positive incentive program

This measure establishes Hawaii’s agriculture and forest carbon positive incentive programs. This will ensure that forests and working agricultural lands are preserved. This will encourage farmers to adopt practices that capture carbon and support local agriculture.

This measure establishes an amount per metric ton carbon and creates a market-based mechanism to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Hawaii residents will get a dividend or tax credit from the generated revenue.

The Environmental Legislative Caucus is made up of 19 representatives and 14 senators.

Representatives include Nicole E. Lowen (Co-Chair), Patrick Pihana Branco, Sonny Ganaden, Troy N. Hashimoto, Linda Ichiyama, Jeanne Kapela, Bertrand Kobayashi, Matthew S. LoPresti, Lisa Marten, Angus L.K. McKelvey McKelvey, Nadine K. Nakamura Takashi Ohno Amy A. Perruso Sean Quinlan Adrian K. Tam David A. Tarnas Chris Todd Tina Wildberger and Justin H. Woodson

Senators include Mike Gabbard (Co-Chair), Laura Acasio, Rosalyn H. Baker, Stanley Chang, Lynn DeCoite, Donovan M. Dela Cruz, Les Ihara, Jr., Dru Mamo Kanuha, Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran, Jarrett Keohokalole, Chris Lee, Karl Rhoads, Gil Riviere, Joy A. San Buenaventura.

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