Second Lateral Bill Updates

Below is an update of our bill priorities as of second lateral, when bills must move to their final committee in their non-originating chamber.

Carbon Free Hawaiʻi

  • Carbon Pricing

    • HB 1584 – [Support] Office of Planning to conduct a comprehensive study of a statewide carbon tax. WAM.

  • Clean Energy

    • HB 307 – [Oppose] Broadens the definition of "renewable energy" to include other self-replenishing non-fossil fuel resources. EET/CPH.

    • HB 550 – [Support] Amends the definition of "renewable portfolio standard" to more accurately reflect the percentage of renewable energy use in the State. CPH/WAM.

    • HB 556 – [Support] Establishes minimum appliance efficiency standards for certain products sold or installed in the State. Requires the public benefits fee administrator to educate and train appliance manufacturers, distributors, and retailers about the appliance efficiency standards. CPH.

Planning for Rising Seas

  • Strengthening Coastal Zone Management Laws

    • HB 549 – [Support] Requires new developments to plan for the impacts of projected sea level rise and prohibits development in areas significantly affected by projected sea level rise. Amends policies and objectives related to coastal zone management to reduce residential exposure to coastal hazards and protect state beaches and public shoreline access. Defines "beach" and "coastal hazards". JDC/WAM.

  • Sea Level Rise planning

    • HB 461 – [Support] Requires the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission to conduct certain activities to address the impacts of sea level rise and report to the Legislature before the 2021 Regular Session. Appropriates funds for the Commission's activities and to fund the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Coordinator. WAM.

    • HB 765 – [Support] Requires incorporation of sea level rise projections in all new plans and updates to existing state plans generated under the Hawaii State Planning Act. WAM.

    • HB 1487 – [Support] Establishes the Honolulu shoreline climate protection pilot project to develop a plan to protect urban Honolulu from the impacts of sea level rise, floodwater, storms, and other impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Repeals on 6/30/2022. Appropriates funds. WAM.

Protecting Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems

    • HB 1326 – [Oppose] Allows holdover permits for stream diversions to continue until 2026. WTL/WAM.

    • HB 808 – [Support] Establishes an offense of knowingly capturing, taking, possessing, abusing, entangling, or killing a shark in state marine waters, along with penalties and fines. Expands the existing prohibition on knowingly capturing or killing a manta ray in state marine waters to apply to all rays and to also include knowingly taking, possessing, abusing, or entangling a ray. Provides certain exemptions. Effective 7/1/2050. JDC/WAM.

    • HB 551 – [Support] Extends lapse date for funds appropriated to the University of Hawaii to conduct a comprehensive statewide study of sewage contamination in nearshore marine areas. Extends lapse date for funds appropriated to the Department of Health to conduct research or gather technical assistance relating to the cesspool conversion working group's comprehensive cesspool conversion plan. WAM.

    • SCR 35 – [Support] Urging the U.S. EPA and the Hawaii Department of Health to reject the approval of a single wall tank upgrade alternative option for the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and the conclusions presented in the Groundwater Protection and Evaluations Considerations Report dated July 27, 2018.

    • SB 696 – [Support] Extends various reporting deadlines and the sunset date of the cesspool conversion working group established pursuant to Act 132, Session Laws of Hawaii 2018. Extends the lapse dates for funds appropriated to conduct a comprehensive statewide study of sewage contamination in nearshore marine areas and for research and technical assistance necessary for completion of the comprehensive cesspool conversion plan. FIN.

Land Use and Development

    • HB 593 – [Oppose] Authorizes the development of utility scale solar projects on class A agricultural lands, subject to certain requirements. Repeals 6/30/2025. WAM.

    • HB 1403 - [Oppose] Requires approval of a permit application submitted by a housing development project that uses moneys from the rental housing revolving fund if a county does not issue a decision on the application within sixty days, subject to certain requirements. Exempts the foregoing projects from environmental impact statement requirements until an update to administrative rules regarding exemptions to environmental impact statement requirements takes effect. WAM.

Administrative

  • HB 1171 – [Support]. WAM. DLNR-DOFAW operating budget bill that would provide $5M to programs including:

    • Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council (HISC) prevention, early detection-rapid response, control, and outreach projects;

    • Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD) research and response; and

    • Wildfire response.

  • HCR 55 - [Support] Requesting the Governor to convene a working group to make recommendations on the consolidation of state environmental functions and the establishment of a Department of the Environment. FIN.

Waste Reduction

  • Plastics

    • HB 762 – [Support] Prohibits providing straws unless requested. JDC.

    • SCR 31 – [Support] Designating the Hawaii State Capitol building and its grounds as a single-use plastic free zone. WAM.

    • SB 522 – [Support] Single-use Plastics Working Group. FIN.

  • Recycling

    • SB 893 – [Support] Prohibits counties with a population less than 500,000 from rejecting number 1 and 2 plastic bottles presented for recycling solely because the bottles are accompanied by or adjoined to nonrecyclable bottle caps. Requires and appropriates funds for the counties to separate and appropriately dispose of such nonrecyclable bottle caps. Requires the counties to include a feasibility assessment of recycling PP materials. FIN.

Common Good Coalition

  • Automatic Voter Registration

    • HB 1217 – [Support] Automatic Voter Registration for driver's license and identification card applications. JDC.

    • HB 1485 – [Support] Establishes a process for automatically preregistering or registering public school-enrolled students who are at least 16 years old.

    • SB 412 – [Support] Automatic Voter Registration for driver's license and identification card applications. FIN.

  • Taxation of Real Estate Investment Trusts

  • Social Services

    • SB 390 – [Support] Department of Agriculture to create a dollar-for-dollar match program for beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program who purchase Hawaii-grown produce. FIN.

Enact automatic voter registration to modernize elections

EDITORIALISLAND VOICES

by Jodi Malinoski 

When there is virtually no opposition and an outpouring of support for a bill that only promises to improve our civic life, decision-making for our lawmakers should be easy.

The Sierra Club of Hawai‘i, on behalf of its 20,000 members and supporters, joins several other advocates in supporting the enactment of automatic voter registration (AVR) via Senate Bill 412 and House Bill 1217. As an organization that often advocates for underrepresented communities facing environmental challenges and injustices, we see this as progress toward ensuring that those communities where voter turnout has historically been low have an easier path to participating in the democratic process.

By making registration automatic whenever someone gets a driver’s license or updates their address at the DMV, voters are more likely to be ready to vote when Election Day rolls around. We welcome that — and so should our lawmakers.

AVR is the logical next step in modernizing our electoral system by eliminating needless paperwork. It has been estimated that paper registration costs 30 times more than AVR. The possibility of human error in transcribing voter information from paper forms will be reduced and the state could save the nearly $600,000 it spent in 2016 alone in processing paper forms.

These are considerable benefits that should encourage lawmakers to make AVR a reality without delay. And if it also can help restore Hawaii’s once high voter turnout, that alone should make lawmakers run, not walk, to make it happen.

The Sierra Club of Hawai‘i is committed to ensuring a fair, open and transparent democratic process. We encourage our members and supporters to actively protect their right to vote, have their voices heard in government, and consistently engage in the legislative process.

Automatic voter registration would make these efforts just that much easier for many Hawaii residents. It will also give more eligible voters the ability to make sure their voices are heard in pushing back against corporate interests that are seeking to monetize our natural resources at the expense of local communities and the health of our ecosystems.

Having among the lowest voter turnouts in the U.S. for the last 20 years is a distinction we need to shed. Never has it been more important for people — particularly working families, homebound seniors, students, and voters in rural areas — to participate in upholding good governance and advancing sound, informed public policy that reflects the will of the people and not corporate interests.

In a state where the high cost of living results in many workers juggling two or more jobs, any reduction in the bureaucracy surrounding registering to vote is something we should all welcome. Automatic voter registration will strengthen our democracy, increase the security of our elections, and is simply the most cost effective, accurate, modern and efficient system available.

It falls squarely within our elected officials’ public commitment to innovation in government to better serve everyone’s needs.

We commend the lawmakers who are working to expand the electorate by making it simpler for all eligible people to register to vote, no matter where they live, how educated they are, or how much money they make.

It is the duty of all our representatives to enact AVR this session. There is no reason to delay.

Civil Beat: Hawaii lawmakers are considering bills that force sellers to tell prospective owners about vulnerable coastal properties

Buyer Beware: Oceanfront Homes Keep Going Up Despite Rising Seas

By Nathan Eagle 

The waves lap indifferently against the rocky revetment that guards a crumbling stretch of Kamehameha Highway in Kaaawa.

Immediately on the other side of this coastal road that connects several windward Oahu communities, workers are framing up the wooden beams of a new two-story house.

Sturdy Foundations, a Honolulu residential development company owned by Amanda and Michael Gregg, bought the empty 6,000-square-foot lot in October for $410,000 and by November had a permit to build a 1,700-square-foot home on it.

No one from the company returned a call seeking comment for this story. But it’s clear they plan to sell the property as soon as it’s done. The Sturdy Foundations website advertises an oceanfront home, just steps from Kaaawa Beach. A slideshow features artist’s renderings and photos of a palm leaning over a smooth stretch of sand.

But on a recent Monday morning, there is little to no beach. The tides fluctuate, and there is sand at certain times, but the beach is disappearing as sea levels rise and erosion intensifies.

Scientists have projected that this stretch of highway will be at least partially flooded with just a half foot of sea level rise, forecast for 2030. When it rises 3 feet, expected by the end of this century or sooner, mapping tools show the whole road and entire property will be underwater.

Now, Hawaii lawmakers are considering whether homeowners should have to tell buyers that their property is in a sea level rise exposure area — or SLR-XA as planners call it.

The state Climate Commission and top climate experts have all recommended mandatory disclosure.

Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case told a Senate panel last month that it is critical for buyers to understand the hazards and risks they are assuming in purchasing oceanfront property, “in the spirit of transparency and disclosure and to support informed decision-making by buyers and government agencies.”

But the Hawaii Association of Realtors, representing 9,500 members, wants disclosure to remain voluntary.

Ken Hiraki, the group’s lobbyist, told lawmakers that the association opposed the bills because it would create an “unreasonable burden” on the typical seller, who he said lacks the capacity or ability to know if the property is in a sea level rise exposure area.

He also noted that the association already has an oceanfront property addendum to disclose pertinent information about owning a coastal home. He did not return a message seeking comment for this story.

Environmental groups, lawmakers and others note that publicly available online mapping tools show the scale of potential flooding and erosion with sea level rise.

The Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report, published in December 2017 and adopted by the Climate Commission, includes a map viewer that lets users see the projected exposure areas at a half foot on up to 3.2 feet of sea level rise, as well as potential economic loss and flooded highways, passive flooding and coastal erosion.

Under legislation put forward this session, the Climate Commission would officially designate the exposure areas based on these maps.

It’s not unlike other disclosures that must be made when selling residential property, including special flood hazard areas, noise exposure areas and tsunami inundation zones.

Sen. Karl Rhoads, who introduced one of the mandatory disclosure bills, said he did not see the big deal in accessing a website to see if you live near an exposure area and having the buyers and sellers acknowledge that during the sale.

“Our whole response to global warming is a bit baffling to me,” he said. “It’s as close to an existential crisis as we’re likely to see, absent a nuclear exchange, and it just doesn’t feel like we’re taking it very serious.”

There’s a lot of coastal property at stake in Hawaii. The sea level rise report estimates the value of all structures and land projected to be flooded by a 3.2 foot rise in sea level at more than $20 billion.

The Gregg’s property in Kaaawa is hardly the only oceanfront home under construction. There’s one just up the road and many others around the state. 

And people are continuing to buy oceanfront properties. Angela and Guy Farr bought the home next door to the Sturdy Foundations lot two years ago for $728,000, records show. They could not be reached for comment.

But not everyone dreams of living by the sea anymore.

Just up the road in Hauula, residents like Maureen Malanaphy are wondering how they will protect their properties from rising seas, more frequent storms and chronic erosion. Some neighbors are actively looking for places to move farther inland after spending a generation living on the coast and seeing firsthand how the environment has changed in recent years.

It’s spurred requests for seawalls and other emergency shoreline hardening. The DLNR has been under intense pressure from landowners, Case said, to permit shoreline protection such as seawalls and rock revetments, even though such armoring is discouraged by state laws, departmental administrative rules and county rules.

“The science is clear that installing coastal armoring on a chronically eroding beach typically leads to beach narrowing and loss,” she told lawmakers in testimony supporting the mandatory disclosure bills.

“There’s no escaping the fact that we’re going to have to deal with sea level rise in Hawaii.” — Rep. Nicole Lowen

Coastal changes aren’t just affecting homes and roads. Kualoa Regional Park, a couple miles south of Kaaawa, was once lined with postcard-perfect palms. The city cut many of them down when the erosion became too much to control. Stumpy root balls dot the shoreline instead. It’s a similar story on the North Shore.

University of Hawaii climate scientist Chip Fletcher, a lead author of the sea level rise report who’s been researching the issue for nearly three decades, said it’s incumbent upon lawmakers to have a greater sense of urgency in tackling the many problems related to sea level rise.

“It all boils down to we have to get out of the way,” Fletcher said. “And the longer you stay, the longer you are economically committed to this patch of ground which is in the end doomed.”

From year to year or even decade to decade, Fletcher said beaches change and sand moves. But he described that as noise superimposed on a trend.

“The beaches are going and going and going,” he said. “The trend is clearly shoreline recession.”

Senate Bill 1126, introduced by Rhoads and four colleagues, would require all vulnerable coastal property sales or transfers to include a sea level rise hazard exposure statement to ensure new owners understand the risks. The latest draft had the law taking effect Nov. 1.

It passed the Senate unanimously and crossed over to the House last week. The bill’s road to passage was rough though, with three committee hurdles to jump before a final vote by the 51-member chamber.

Two related measures, Senate bills 1340 and 1339, introduced by Sens. Gil Keith-Agaran and Jarrett Keohokalole, also crossed over to the House. House leaders referred them to four committees and while that can provide a more thorough vetting it’s often a kiss of death for bills.

The legislative session ends May 2, but the internal deadlines to keep the bills moving forward are coming up soon. It’s too late for many, absent some legislative maneuvering.

Thursday was the deadline for triple referral bills. Re-referrals, where committees are added or subtracted or redirected, are still possible though.

Senate Bill 1126 initially only had a double referral, which would have given the measure another week to have a hearing and pass out to the last committee, but then a third committee was added Tuesday. That moved the deadline up and gave the chairs of two committees just two days to hold a joint hearing, which didn’t happen.

Jodi Malinoski, policy advocate for the Sierra Club, said it’s still possible but unlikely a mandatory disclosure bill will pass this session as it’s just not a priority for House leaders.

“We’re not trying to push some grand obtuse idea. This is a priority for the Climate Commission,” she said. “But we’re a grassroots organization going up against a big association, and frankly big bags of money and political influence.”

The Hawaii Association of Realtors has donated more than $500,000 to at least 130 candidates over the past decade, campaign spending data show. The Sierra Club has given less than $500 to two candidates.

The House had moved forward with its version of a mandatory disclosure bill earlier this session but that one fizzled out in February.

Rep. Nicole Lowen, who co-introduced the measure and moved it through the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee she chairs, said she still supports mandatory disclosure but noted the testimony that contends disclosure may already be happening.

“Whether we need legislation or not is one question,” she said, adding that creating awareness about problems that might arise in the future is a first step toward implementing policies that encourage retreat from the shoreline in certain areas.

“There’s no escaping the fact that we’re going to have to deal with sea level rise in Hawaii,” she said.

Red Hill Resolution

Your voice is needed now to show strong support for the protection of Oʻahu’s drinking water from any further fuel contamination by the fragile, massive tanks at Red Hill. SCR 35—urging the Hawaiʻi Department of Health and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reject single walled tank upgrades at Red Hill—has a joint hearing in the Senate AEN/PSM Committee’s on Wednesday, March 20th @ 1:15 PM.

This resolution adds an additional layer of heavy public pressure for the State Health Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take a stronger stance for the health of Oʻahu’s water. The U.S. Navy is currently considering the lowest cost and least protective option to upgrade the Red Hill tanks. The Navy themselves has stated that “this alternative is nearly identical to the efforts conducted to inspect and repair the Red Hill tanks over the last 13 years.” This includes tank 5 that leaked 27,000 gallons of jet fuel in 2014.

Status quo is not acceptable—the tanks at Red Hill should be fitted with secondary containment or the tanks should be retired and the fuel moved to a location that does not risk Oʻahu’s main drinking water resource.

Last week, the Honolulu City Council adopted a similar Resolution. Let’s keep the momentum going! We are asking for your written testimony in support of SCR 35. Please use the form below or submit testimony via your account at the capitol.hawaii.gov website.

Testimony Needed for Friday, March 15th: Climate Change and Coalition Bills

Below are priority bills for the Sierra Club and our Coalition partners that have hearings sprinkled throughout Friday, March 15th. Please take a few minutes to login into the Capitol website and show your support!

High priority bills for the Sierra Club:

Sea level rise and climate change planning bills: HB 461HB 549HB 765, and HB 1487. These bills are slightly different but the same draft testimony below can be used for all four:

I support this bill. Climate Change impacts, especially sea level rise, create a new type of coastal hazard affecting coastal areas now and increasingly in the future. Policy and permitting decisions with long-term effects related to sea level rise are happening now, including approvals of structures with long life spans, siting of utilities and other capital improvements, and other actions with long-range consequences. We need to be incorporating sea level rise projections into our state plans, avoiding construction within hazardous coastal areas to protect our beaches, and supporting innovative solutions to address climate change.

HB 1584 - Carbon tax study

I support HB 1584 HD2. Both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission support carbon pricing as the most effective action to reduce emissions. However, no state has adopted a carbon tax and Hawai‘i's carbon tax could disproportionately affect low and moderate income communities if not implemented correctly. A study on a carbon tax is warranted and will provide clear policy guidance for how future carbon tax proposals can be both effective and equitable.

 

Coalition Priorities: These bills also warrant your quick support!

HB 1217 - Automatic Voter Registration

I support HB 1217 HD1. This bill would automatically register eligible citizens to vote when they apply or renew their State ID or Driver’s License, unless they opt-out. It’s time to modernize our registration process and increase convenience and access to voting. Automatic voter registration has already been approved in 17 states and is efficient, secure, and can help improve voter turnout in Hawai‘i.

HB 808 - Sharks and Rays Protection

I support HB 808 HD1. This bill outlaws the intentional killing, capture, abuse, or entanglement of sharks and rays in state marine waters. Sharks and rays are culturally significant species that keep our ocean ecosystems in balance and healthy. These important species deserve our protection.

SB 390 - SNAP “double bucks”

I support SB 390 SD2. This bill would double the value of SNAP (food stamps) when used to purchase Hawai‘i grown produce. Giving “double bucks” for Hawai‘i-grown produce incentivizes SNAP beneficiaries to purchase nutritious fruits and vegetables- which in turn helps local farmers and our agricultural economy, improves SNAP participants’ health, and supports greater local food production into the future.

 

Please login here, enter the bill number, and use the draft testimony provided to quickly show your support for these bills before Friday. Mahalo.

 

Civil Beat: End The Trafficking Of Hawaii’s Reef Wildlife

Aquarium pet trade proponents are not telling the truth about industry practices.

By Inga Gibson  Gail Grabowsky  

Unprecedented national discourse generated by misleading statements and alternative truths reminds us of one important aspect of policymaking at all levels, and one that we must never forget: Facts matter.

In the long-fought battle to keep Hawaii’s fragile reef wildlife out of mainland hobby tanks and on their native reefs, aquarium pet trade proponents often use false or subjective buzzwords such as “sustainable” and “most regulated” when referring to this decades-long destructive activity. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One day in 2014 stands out in demonstrating this point. That was the day that the then-Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources administrator resigned — but not before testifying before the Board of Land and Natural Resources in opposition to faux aquarium trade rules proposed by collectors. The testimony explained that the rules were inconsistent with good natural resource management, not based on science and developed in a flawed process where important stakeholders had been excluded.

BLNR ignored these concerns, instead voting with their then-chair, a former aquarium collector himself. However, an important set of facts emerged from the one meeting BLNR did subsequently require DAR hold with scientists: Where the aquarium trade was concerned, “sustainable” had not been defined, and neither had the means to measure it, the state’s management goals, or the metrics for meeting those goals.

In 2017, Senate Bill 1240 attempted to once again define sustainable, but DLNR again opposed it, claiming it was unnecessary and too costly. Gov. David Ige vetoed the bill.

No one disputes that fish populations are increasing in the areas closed to take — that is the expectation in closing an area to commercial extraction. But this is surely not the case for the 60-90 percent reduction in fishes and other creatures taken for the pet trade in areas that remain open to collection.

The Threat Of Climate Change

Further, while some off-shore food fisheries routinely deplete fish populations by upwards of 80 percent and are referred to as sustainable, this is not the case for near-shore coral reef ecosystems now threatened with extinction as a result of climate change.

This is sadly not hyperbole. For those who missed Civil Beat’s Hawaii 2040 coverage, without a drastic reduction in the greenhouse gases that are driving climate change, 70 percent of Hawaii’s coral reefs are projected to be dead in 30 years, with just 1 percent remaining by the end of the century, in a process that will occur right before our eyes, and may begin as early as 2030.

Experts urge we must turn our focus to restoring abundance, removing stressors, and building resilience within these ecosystems. Prior to the 2017 Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that shut down the aquarium trade in West Hawaii, pending proper environmental review, nearly two times more fish were taken from West Hawaii reefs for the aquarium pet trade than were taken by all fishers for food.

We agree with scientists who state there are many threats to our ocean ecosystems including pollution and other forms of over-fishing, however, this doesn’t excuse the impacts of the aquarium industry, with mortality rates that would never be accepted in any other “pet trade,” and that economically benefit so few in Hawaii.

One need only look to Florida, with a smaller aquarium trade, to see that Hawaii’s trade is poorly regulated with minimal laws and rules that are virtually unenforceable. Unlike Florida, where aquarium collection permits are capped and can cost tens of thousands of dollars, DLNR has never set a limit on the number of (free) aquarium permits issued nor on the number of animals that can be taken. Lacking resources and will, DLNR is unable to provide even the most basic enforcement, and so the trade continues, business as usual, despite the court ruling.

Hawaii prohibited the take of coral, rock and sand in 1986 yet 30-plus years later continues to allow unlimited extraction of our critical marine life. In the words of my dear, late colleague, Marjorie Ziegler, in her long opposition to the trade — would the state similarly allow our native birds and other animals to be taken and sold for mainland profits?

DLNR is unable to provide even the most basic enforcement, and so the aquarium trade continues.

Which brings us to Senate Bill 931, which just crossed to the House for consideration. Thus far the bill has received testimony, 4:1, in support, which mirrors a scientific poll showing 84 percent of residents want to see an end to the trade.

The bill faces some major hurdles, but is worth fighting for. It includes important exemptions for public aquariums, education, research and aquaculture purposes — a growing sector with job opportunities for local collectors.

Further, with an effective date of 2024, it also gives the trade five years to phase out, an important compromise that, while bringing us dangerously close to the start of the projected annual severe coral bleaching events, should give our marine animals and their reef homes time to build resilience as they face an ever-increasing battle for their very survival.

Don't Pump the Brakes on Rooftop Solar!

Don't Pump the Brakes on Rooftop Solar!

Oppose SB 1163 SD 2, which has a hearing in EEP on Tuesday, March 12th at 8:30 AM.

While the rest of the country is trying to address climate change and pushing the idea of a federal "Green New Deal," the Hawaii Legislature is bizarrely moving in the opposite direction. SB 1163 SD2 would slash Hawaii's renewable energy tax credit by more than half starting next year. This would drastically halt or slow the growth of rooftop solar and home batteries, ironically at a time when climate scientists are telling us we need to accelerate the transition to clean energy.  

The Hawaii Legislature's proposal would happen at the same time as the federal income tax credit is stepping down, meaning a double whammy on customers wanting to do the right thing. We'd leave federal money on the table instead of helping the transition to a clean energy future. 

What you can do:

  1. Please email or call (808.586.8400) Rep. Lowen, the Chair of the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, and ask her to defer SB 1163 in Tuesday’s EEP committee hearing.

  2. Submit written testimony in OPPOSITION to SB 1163 via the Capitol Website by Monday, March 11th @ 3 PM.

While prudently reducing Hawaii's renewable energy tax credit over time may be reasonable, slashing the incentive by over half with less than six months of notice sends a signal that Hawaii doesn't care about climate change or market stability. Another part of SB 1163 prevents customers from "going off the grid" and installing grid-disconnected solar and storage, something some legislators have called a blatant "give to Hawaiian Electric."

Talking Points:

  • Rooftop solar has helped Hawaii residents save billions of dollars and reduced the need for dirty, fossil fuels. This helps everyone.

  • The impacts of climate change loom ever larger, with threats such as an iceberg twice the size of New York about to break off and potentially destabilize the Antarctic, and natural disasters hitting with more and more regularity. Hawaii is uniquely vulnerable to these impacts and should be accelerating its efforts to reduce emissions, not slowing down.

  • Cutting the residential and commercial cap by more than half effectively cuts the tax credit by the end of this year, despite disingenuous language elsewhere in the bill. This is poor policy and sends a terrible signal to the market -- don't invest in Hawaii, they don't care about market stability. 

  • Support Hawaii residents who are trying to do the right thing for our environment and economy, and defer this bill.

Read More

Priorities at First Crossover

Below is an update of our bill priorities as of first crossover, when bills that were introduced in the House “crossover” to the Senate and vice versa. Crossover is often used like a halfway point in session, as the bills introduced in one chamber are now up for consideration in their non-originating chamber.

Carbon Free Hawaiʻi

  • Carbon Pricing

    • HB 1584 - [Support] University of Hawaiʻi to conduct a comprehensive study of a statewide carbon tax. HRE/EET, WAM.

  • Clean Energy

    • HB 307 - [Oppose] Broadens the definition of "renewable energy" to include other self-replenishing non-fossil fuel resources. EET/CPH.

    • HB 550 - [Support] Public Utilities Commission to study implementing Renewable Portfolio Standards for gas utility companies. Accelerates the renewable energy goals for 2030 and 2040. EET, CPH/WAM.

    • HB 556 - [Support] State to adopt appliance efficiency standards. EET, CPH.

    • SB 1323 - [Support] State to adopt appliance efficiency standards. EEP/EDB, CPC, FIN.

Planning for Rising Seas

  • Mandatory sea level rise exposure area disclosure in real estate transactions

    • SB 1126 - [Support] Requires seller disclosures in sea level rise exposure areas to ensure that new property owners and transferees understand the special hazards, requirements, and limitations that may affect the property. WLH/EEP, JUD.

    • SB 1339 - [Support] Requires a purchaser statement with the sale or transfer of vulnerable coastal real estate. WLH/EEP, CPC, FIN.

    • SB 1340 - [Support] Requires mandatory seller disclosures in real estate transactions within a sea level rise exposure area. WLH/EEP, CPC, FIN.

  • Strengthening Coastal Zone Management Laws

    • HB 549 - [Support] Requires new developments to plan for the impacts of projected sea level rise and prohibits development in areas significantly affected by projected sea level rise. AEN/WTL, JDC/WAM.

    • SB 393 - [Support] Amends coastal zone management laws to further protect against impacts of sea level rise and coastal erosion. Requires new developments to plan for the impacts of projected sea level rise. Prohibits development in areas significantly affected by projected sea level rise. EEP/WLH, FIN.

  • Sea Level Rise planning

    • HB 461 - [Support] Requires the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission to conduct certain activities to address the impacts of sea level rise and report to the Legislature before the 2021 Regular Session. AEN/WTL, WAM.

    • HB 765 - [Support] Requires incorporation of sea level rise projections in all new plans and updates to existing state plans generated under the Hawaiʻi State Planning Act. WTL/AEN, WAM.

    • HB 1487 - [Support] Establishes the Honolulu shoreline climate protection pilot project to develop a plan to protect urban Honolulu from the acute impacts of sea level rise, floodwater, storms, and other impacts of a rapidly changing climate. AEN/WTL, WAM.

    • SB 944 - [Support] Requires the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission to prioritize nature-based solutions in its climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts and assess risk transfer market mechanisms that promote investments in nature to reduce the risks of climate change. EEP, WLH, FIN.

    • SB 1054 - [Support] Requires the State and counties to incorporate sea level rise and other climate change hazards and mitigation opportunities into applicable plans, strategies, and mapping. Requires the PUC to consider the findings in the Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report. EEP/WLH, CPC, FIN.

Protecting Streams and Marine Ecosystems

    • HB 1326 - [Oppose] Allows holdover permits for stream diversions to continue. WTL, WAM.

    • HB 808/SB 489 - [Support] Prohibits and establishes penalties for any person who knowingly captures, possesses, abuses, entangles, or kills any shark within state waters. Expands the existing protection for rays within state waters.

    • HB 551 - [Support] Extends lapse date for a study of sewage contamination in nearshore marine areas and the cesspool conversion working group's comprehensive cesspool conversion plan. AEN/CPH/HRE, WAM.

    • SB 696- [Support] Extends the life of the cesspool conversion working group and provides additional funds for the study of sewage contamination in nearshore marine areas and completion of the comprehensive cesspool conversion plan. EEP, FIN.

Land Use and Development

    • HB 593 - [Oppose] Authorizes the development of utility scale solar projects on “A” rated agricultural lands, subject to certain requirements. WTL/EET, WAM.

    • SB 379 - [Support] Allows the governor to negotiate land exchanges to acquire lands suitable for long-term diversified agricultural production in return for state lands to be developed for housing. WLH/AGR/HSG, FIN.
       

Administrative

  • Creation of State Department of Environment

    • HB 1586 - [Support] Establishes and transfers to a “Department of Environment” certain programs administered by various state agencies. EET/AEN, WAM.

  • Department of Land and Natural Resources funding

    • HB1171 - [Support]. WTL, WAM. DLNR-DOFAW operating budget bill that would provide $5M to programs including:

      • Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council (HISC) prevention, early detection-rapid response, control, and outreach projects;

      • Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD) research and response; and

      • Wildfire response.

    • SB923 / SB924 / SB1490 - [Support] DLNR operating budget bills with duplicative parts. All include funding for HISC, ROD, Legacy Land Conservation Fund, and other DLNR priorities. WLH, FIN.

Waste Reduction

  • Plastics

    • HB 762 – [Support] Prohibits providing straws unless requested. AEN/CPH, JDC.

    • SB 11 – [Support] Polystyrene Foam Ban. EEP/EDB, CPC/JUD, FIN.

    • SB 367 – [Support] Single-use Plastics Ban. EEP, CPC/JUD, FIN.

    • SB 522 – [Support] Single-use Plastics Ban and Working Group. EEP/EDB, CPC/JUD, FIN.

  • Recycling

    • HB 630 - [Oppose] Repeal Glass Container Program. AEN, WAM.

    • SB 893 – [Support] Recycling 1 & 2 bottle caps. EEP, FIN.

Common Good Coalition

  • Automatic Voter Registration

    • HB 1217 - [Support] Automatic Voter Registration for driver's license and identification card applications. TRS, JDC.

    • HB 1485 - [Support] Establishes a process for automatically preregistering or registering public school-enrolled students who are at least 16 years old. EDU/JDC.

    • SB 412 - [Support] Automatic Voter Registration for driver's license and identification card applications. JUD, FIN.

  • Taxation of Real Estate Investment Trusts

  • Social Services

    • SB 390 - [Support] Department of Agriculture to create a dollar-for-dollar match program for beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program who purchase Hawaii-grown produce. AGR, FIN.

Civil Beat: Many Climate Change Bills Are Still Alive, Including A Carbon Tax

At the session’s halfway point, several new measures have support. But some current initiatives will expire if action isn’t taken.

By Nathan Eagle 

Sam Lemmo is ready for Hawaii to take its effort to combat climate change to the next level.

The head of the state Office of Coastal and Conservation Lands wants the Legislature to empower the executive branch so it can address the myriad threats facing Hawaii when it comes to global warming.

That means making temporary institutions permanent, like the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission. It means updating laws to reflect the latest projections of rising sea levels, more hurricanes, shifting rainfall patterns and hotter weather. And it means money for technical services that enable agencies to do detailed vulnerability assessments and develop programs that actively deal with these issues.

“We need a Climate 3.0 now,” Lemmo said. “Then we can begin the slow process of digging out of this mess.”

Lawmakers have moved a suite of climate-related bills forward this session, which reached its midpoint this week. Several other measures have died, such as mandating an assessment of the environmental impacts of tourism, but more than two dozen have cleared the House or Senate.

The deadline for bills to cross over from one chamber to the other is Thursday. Measures that didn’t make the cut are technically dead this session but can be taken up again next year. It’s also possible to revive them by stuffing their contents into other bills in the coming weeks through legislative maneuvering.

Lemmo considers Act 83, which the Legislature passed in 2014, to be the Hawaii version of Climate 1.0.

When then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed it, he said it provided “a road map for Hawaii to be able to deal with the questions of climate change and global warming.” It created an interagency committee to assess the effects of sea level rise in particular.

Climate 2.0 came in 2017 when the Legislature passed a bill, signed by Gov. David Ige, to ratchet that work up a notch. It expanded strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and aligned Hawaii with the goals adopted in the Paris Agreement. It also renamed the committee the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission.

But there is uncertainty about the future of the commission, co-chaired by the heads of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Office of Planning. The commission is set to terminate July 1, 2023, and funding expires for its sole coordinator position in June.

Other environmental programs that would help the state adapt to a changing climate and mitigate its many effects are similarly in search of additional funding. The DLNR has asked for more money to fight increasingly destructive wildfires, rebuild coral reefs that are bleaching from warmer ocean waters and respond to biosecurity threats in watersheds and native forests.

“I want to implore the legislators to trust us — give us the opportunity to take it to the next level with implementation,” Lemmo said.

To many, the climate commission’s work has only begun. The 20-member group has adopted a landmark sea level rise report, which includes online mapping tools for the public and state agencies to use for planning. In November, it unanimously called on the Legislature to pass a carbon tax to incentivize people to change their habits for the planet’s well-being.

The House and Senate have killed bills to make the coordinator position permanent and further fund the commission’s work. Case has asked for $205,000 for the position and planning and administration costs for the commission.

It’s something that Senate Ways and Means Chair Donovan Dela Cruz and his counterpart in the House, Finance Chair Sylvia Luke, will hash out as they work on the overall state spending plan.

Dela Cruz said he supports the concept but would rather work on broad-based policies to change the culture and regulatory practices around climate change than hire one person to advocate for the issue.

“I have mixed feelings about these positions,” he said Wednesday.

Still, he and Luke have shepherded through several bills, with costs still to be determined, that approach climate change challenges from a variety of angles.

Carbon Tax Bills Dwindle

On the Senate side, the biggest is a proposed carbon tax — a sweeping environmental policy reform that would affect virtually everyone in Hawaii.

Senate Bill 1463, introduced by Sen. Karl Rhoads and six colleagues, unanimously passed the 25-member chamber. It was transmitted to the 51-member House on Tuesday.

It’s the only version of a carbon tax still alive. Two House bills, far different than Rhoads’ proposal, died without a hearing. One related measure, House Bill 1584, is still moving forward but it only calls for a study by the University of Hawaii.

SB 1463 would replace the environmental response, energy and food security tax — commonly known as the barrel tax — with a carbon emissions tax equivalent to $6.25 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels sold by a distributor to any retail dealer or end user of the fuel, other than a refiner. It would be paid by the distributor.

It has received lukewarm support from environmental groups and state agencies. Concerns remain over its regressiveness and effect on highway funds, which depend on money from the barrel tax.

The Tax Foundation of Hawaii, led by Tom Yamachika, testified last month that the social change the tax encourages may help stave off the dire consequences of global warming. But it cautioned that its constituents are worried less about the end of the world than the end of next week.

“Will their paychecks be enough to pay the rent, keep the lights on, or feed the family?” Yamachika said. “If the cost of simply driving to work from the suburbs is horrible now, just wait until the tax kicks in.”

Yamachika warned that businesses will pass on any increased costs to consumers to continue providing their products and services.

“If you think the hammer of a carbon tax will fall most heavily on huge, faceless corporations like the electric company, the airlines, or the shippers, think again,” he said. “Our already astronomical cost of living could head further up into the stratosphere.”

Yamakchika did recognize that the bill is revenue-neutral. Increased taxes on carbon-related entities would be offset elsewhere. But he’s worried the tax rates would change over time.

Hawaiian Electric Co. estimates that the carbon tax could add more than $19 million in costs each year to customers across the islands. Scott Seu, HECO spokesman, said in his testimony last month that the company supports doing a study first.

The Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, which has made a carbon tax a top priority this session, suggested amending the bill. The group proposed drastically increasing the price per ton of CO2 for all fossil fuels, increasing it steadily till the state meets its net zero emissions goal by 2045, and giving a dividend to consumers to offset the disproportionate impact on low- to moderate-income residents.

The bill now rests with the House, which will refer it to committees to consider in the coming days.

“It’s Hawaii’s attempt to get its foot in the door to initiate a carbon tax or pricing scheme,” Lemmo said.

Coastal Development

Lawmakers are trying to figure out how which roads, homes, hotels and businesses should be set back farther from the ocean and which ones should be protected from rising seas, increasing floods and other impacts.

House Bill 549, introduced by Rep. Nicole Lowen and 15 fellow House members, would require new developments to plan for the impacts of projected sea level rise and prohibit development in areas significantly affected.

The measure, which cleared the chamber unanimously, highlights the inadequacies of the current coastal zone management policies and regulations with respect to the protection of beaches. It would work to strengthen efforts to conserve beaches while also reducing shorefront communities’ exposure to hazard.

House Bill 1487, which also passed unanimously, creates a shoreline pilot project to develop a plan to protect urban Honolulu from the acute impacts of climate change. It’s about flood-proofing the urban core.

It underscores how a direct hit from a hurricane — severe storms are increasing in frequency due to climate change — could cost an estimated $40 billion in damage to Hawaii’s infrastructure and economy.

The bill, introduced by Lowen and Rep. Chris Lee, calls on the climate commission to plan for protection of low-lying areas between the Honolulu airport and Diamond Head. “Protection compartments” along that stretch would include flood-protection zones, a continuous shoreline path that could be used for emergencies, and steps to make each area self-reliant if it became isolated.

A separate measure that would have directed the climate commission to determine areas in each county to designate for either armoring or managed retreat died last month, but elements of it are still alive in other bills.

Senate Bill 644 had cleared its first hurdle, with Sens. Kai Kahele and Mike Gabbard moving it through their Agriculture and Environment and Water and Land committees. The committees found it “imperative” for the Legislature to start implementing the climate commission’s recommendations from the sea-level rise report, which include planning and funding coastal adaptations to sea-level rise now to avoid crises in the next decade.

In a joint committee report, Kahele and Gabbard said identification and determination of shoreline armoring and retreat should be prioritized.

Lawmakers are moving on another coastal matter backed by the climate commission.

A couple bills would require some form of mandatory disclosure when selling coastal property that is vulnerable to sea level rise exposure areas as designated by the Climate Commission.

Senate Bill 1126 and Senate Bill 1340 crossed over to the House, which did not move forward with its version of the measure.

“These bills are critically important for complementing our adaptation effort,” Lemmo said.

‘Pleasantly Surprised’

One of the broader policy bills that’s moving forward this session is Dela Cruz’s Senate Bill 393, which amends the Coastal Zone Management Act.

Lemmo said he particularly likes how it identifies sea level rise now as one of the coastal hazards that must be considered.

He said it also amends language regarding shoreline armoring to improve protection of sandy beaches by putting the onus on the regulatory agency and the applicants to prove that what they are proposing will not have negative consequences.

Another bill that could have broad implications is also still alive. House Bill 461 directs the climate commission to prioritize infrastructure and identify vulnerable roads, bridges and other properties based on exposure to sea level rise. It also calls for funding the climate coordinator position.

“I’m sort of pleasantly surprised at this point with respect to what I see in play still,” Lemmo said. “I’m also pleasantly surprised that they have taken our amendments and have incorporated many of them into the measures.”

Lawmakers are also looking at climate change from an organizational standpoint. House Bill 1586 would create a new Department of the Environment, incorporating the Office of Environmental Quality Control (now under the Department of Health) and state energy office (now under the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism).

Bills to create a statewide sustainability division within the Office of Planning and create a Hawaii Energy and Climate Change Office are also still alive, though the latter was amended to no longer include the words “climate change” in the title.

Measures to mandate an update to the Hawaii Sustainability 2050 Plan and prioritize nature-based solutions are also still alive.

While Hawaii is moving forward with its legal requirement to producing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045, the concept of becoming carbon-neutral by the same time looks more difficult.

Shifting the transportation sector, which accounts for about a quarter of the state’s fossil fuel use, to clean energy has run into conflicting policy proposals.

There are bills, for instance, to make it more affordable for residents to install electric vehicle charging stations at their homes. But there are also bills adding a surcharge to registration fees for electric vehicles and ending programs to incentivize their use, like free parking.

Sen. Russell Ruderman took up the issue on the Senate floor Wednesday when Senate Bill 409 came up. The measure, in its latest form, adds a $15 surcharge for EV registration.

Supporters of the bill, introduced by Sen. Lorraine Inouye, argue that people who drive electric vehicles or hybrids pay less in gas taxes so they are not paying their fair share for the upkeep of highways.

Ruderman and other critics of the bill point out that electric vehicles and hybrids have far less impact on the roads. They’re lighter than SUVs, for instance, and the heaviest trucks that cause the vast majority of damage.

He questioned instituting a policy that de-incentivizes switching to electric and hybrid vehicles, which only account for 1 percent of the registered automobiles in Hawaii.

“I realize that most of you folks today are not going to change your vote based on what I say,” Ruderman said. “But I’m asking you that next time we are faced with a decision of whether we are to take action on the greatest crisis facing our generation or not, that you turn over a new leaf and prioritize climate change as a matter of public policy.”

Ruderman and Sen. Donna Mercado Kim cast the lone “no” votes. The measure now heads to the House.

Lemmo said he recognizes the balance that lawmakers must find in tackling climate change.

“Everyone is feeling the burn of climate change, and feeling the pressure not to go so far that it damages our ability to meet our requirements day in and day out,” he said.

But he underscored the mounting pressure to act now, and the mounting scientific evidence to support that.

A study published last week in the journal Nature Climate Change found there is a 99.9999 percent change that humans are the cause of global warming. That’s the “gold standard” statistical measure for certainty.

“I’m really just hopeful that we can make some progress on the adaptation and mitigation fronts,” Lemmo said.

3 sea level rise bills need your testimony!

3 bills relating to disclosure of sea level rise areas for real estate transactions need your support!

SB 1126 / SB 1339 / SB 1340

SB 1126 is scheduled in CPH on Tuesday, 2/26 at 9:30 AM and SB 1139 and SB 1340 is scheduled in JUD/CPH on Wednesday, 2/27 at 9:35 AM. The three bills are similar and would require mandatory disclosure to be given for any real estate transaction that occurs within the 2 feet of sea level rise exposure area. We are asking the committees to increase this to 3.2 feet, which is the latest science/projections adopted by our State’s Climate Change Commission. Only written testimony will be accepted for these hearings, so please use BOTH click-and-submit forms below to testify in support of the three bills.

Mahalo!

FIN Hearing Fri, Feb. 22: Clean Energy and Climate bills

The House Committee on Finance has scheduled a public hearing for several environmental bills on Friday, February 22nd at 11 AM in Room 308. The meeting agenda has a handful of bills worthy for your time and support, but here’s a few that we really like with sample testimony to use or customize.

Login into your Capitol account HERE to submit your support for these clean energy and climate change bills:

HB 549, HD1 RELATING TO THE ENVIRONMENT - Requires new developments to plan for the impacts of projected sea level rise and prohibits development in areas significantly affected by projected sea level rise.

“I support HB 549 HD 1, which updates Chapter 205A-the Coastal Zone Management Act, to incorporate sea level rise within its objectives, policies, and permitting processes. This bill will help prevent the loss of beaches and public access caused in large part by granting of shoreline setback variances, especially as we enter a new era of sea level rise. As the sea level rises we can expect a increase in the number of applications to armor coastal properties with seawalls and revetments. Please pass this bill to guard against further shoreline hardening and protect our coastal ecosystems.”

 

HB 1584, HD2 RELATING TO CARBON EMISSIONS - Appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii to conduct a comprehensive study of a statewide carbon tax.

“I support HB 1584 HD 2, a bill that is dedicated to studying the feasibility and impacts of carbon pricing. The way we design and implement a carbon tax is critical to its effectiveness. A carbon tax needs to strike the right balance- it needs to be equitable for low-income households, result in significant carbon emissions reductions, and help Hawai‘i fund investments in clean energy and climate adaptation. A study bill is a critical first step to provide policy guidance on how Hawai‘i’s carbon tax should be structured.“

HB 1487, HD1 RELATING TO CLIMATE CHANGE - Establishes the Honolulu shoreline climate protection pilot project to develop a plan to protect urban Honolulu from the acute impacts of sea level rise, floodwater, storms, and other impacts of a rapidly changing climate.  Appropriates funds. 

“I support HB 1487 HD 1, which establishes and appropriates funds for the Honolulu shoreline climate protection pilot project to develop a plan to protect urban Honolulu from the acute impacts of sea level rise, floodwater, storms, and other impacts of a rapidly changing climate. The coastline of urban Honolulu will be a particularly important and challenging area to protect in the face of rising seas and more frequent flooding and inland inundation. HB 1487 directs the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission to plan a system of coastal protection for the “low-lying topography” of urban Honolulu, creating a shoreline buffer from the Honolulu International Airport to the Diamond Head State Monument.“

HB 1586, HD1 RELATING TO THE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT - Establishes and transfers to a Department of Environment certain agencies and programs administered by the Department of Health (the Office of Environmental Quality Control and the Environmental Council) and the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (the Energy Office and programs relating to climate adaptation planning in the Office of Planning) on July 1, 2021.

“I support this bill to create a new “Department of Environment” for the state of Hawai‘i. It would be beneficial to combine the existing state agencies dealing with environmental issues into a new agency that is streamlined and action-oriented. A Department of Environment could help to facilitate discussion about the impacts of climate change, breakdown departmental silos, and initiate sustainability and clean energy projects that will encourage conservation jobs, stimulate our economy, and protect Hawai‘i’s natural resources for future generations.”

Submit testimony for HB 549, HB 1487, HB 1584, and HB 1586 by logging into your capitol.hawaii.gov account, entering in the bill number, and clicking submit testimony.

OPPOSE HB1326 HD2: Free our streams from corporate water theft

ACT NOW TO #FREETHESTREAMS! HB 1326 HD2 IS VOTED ON IN THE HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE ON WEDNESDAY, 2/27 at 11:30AM.

The last committee changed the “unlimited” timeline to 7 years—but that is not enough. The corporate water diverters have already received an extra 3 year extension in 2016 to finish environmental impact statements that were required 15 years ago and completing the long term lease application.


CALL NOW Representative Luke and the members of the Finance Committee and ask them to vote NO on HB1326.

HB1326 was heard in the Finance committee last week. Call and email the committee and ask them to VOTE NO on HB1326. 

Email: FINtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov

Chair: Luke, Sylvia 
808-586-6200
repluke@capitol.hawaii.gov

Vice Chair: Cullen, Ty J.K. 
808-586-8490
repcullen@capitol.hawaii.gov

Committee members:
Kitagawa, Lisa (voted with reservations)
808-586-8540
repkitagawa@capitol.hawaii.gov

Holt, Daniel 
808-586-6180
repholt@capitol.hawaii.gov

Todd, Chris 
808-586-8480
reptodd@capitol.hawaii.gov

Hashimoto, Troy N. 
808-586-9444
rephashimoto@capitol.hawaii.gov

Yamashita, Kyle T. 
808-586-6330
repyamashita@capitol.hawaii.gov

Nakamura, Nadine K. 
808-586-8435
repnakamura@capitol.hawaii.gov


Kobayashi, Bertrand 
808-586-6310
repkobayashi@capitol.hawaii.gov

Nishimoto, Scott Y. 
808-586-8515
repnishimoto@capitol.hawaii.gov

McDermott, Bob 
808-586-9730
repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov

Gates, Cedric Asuega 
808-586-8460
repgates@capitol.hawaii.gov

Matayoshi , Scot Z. 
808-586-8470 repmatayoshi@capitol.hawaii.gov


HB1326 gives water diverters—like A&B (now Mahi Pono) and KIUC—an UNLIMITED amount of water, for an INDEFINITE amount of time, for UNKNOWN uses. This bill provides no standards or criteria for ensuring that stream ecosystems are protected from excessive water diversions.

A&B is asking lawmakers to pass HB1326—because they promised in its sale agreement with Mahi Pono that the state would give them 30 million gallons of water a day—or else A&B will have to pay Mahi Pono $62 million. But it will impact more than just East Maui. This bill would also extend temporary water permits held by others, like Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative for diverting sacred waters of Waiʻaleʻale and Waikoko.

Lawmakers are often quick to criticize DLNR for mismanagement but then turnaround and support bills like this that ensure the mismanagement could only get worse. There is no criteria or oversight written into this bill that protects streams, its native ecosystems, or the communities that depend on them for basic necessities.

There are bills in front of the legislature that set a good example of how things should be done. Bills like HB848—that provide for the protection of stream resources, while allowing stream diversions for diversified agriculture so long as it does not harm the health of the streams. However, HB848 has yet to get scheduled for a hearing.

There is enough water for everyone to prosper, it is just a matter of striking the right balance. HB1326 is basically a blank check to Mahi Pono, A&B, KIUC and others to continue the unjust practice of taking unlimited amounts of water from Hawaiʻi’s streams—to the detriment of our native ecosystems and the people that depend on them. E ola i kai wai!! Water is life!!


HB1326 WAS HEARD AND PASSED OUT OF WLH WITH A 5-TO-1 VOTE ON FEB 8.

Mahalo nui to EVERYONE who submitted testimony in opposition to this terrible bill. There were over 600 testimonies submitted, most in opposition, with over a dozen verbal testimonies provided at the hearing. The bill was amended from providing diverters the ability to take water for an indefinite about of time to seven years, including authorization to continue diverting while permits are challenged in court.

Voting for the bill were: Committee Chairperson Ryan Yamane from Mililani, Vice Chair Chris Todd, and members Rep. Nicole Lowen, and Rep. David Tarnas, all from the Big Island, and Rep. Sharon Har, representing Kapolei. Rep. Thielen from Kailua/Kaneohe was absent and excused. Rep. Tina Wildberger from Maui was the sole no vote.

First Lateral Update

Today is first lateral, which is the last day for a bill that was referred to more than one committee to move into its final committee. Out of the 600 environmental bills that Sierra Club was tracking, over half did not have a hearing or were deferred in committee and are no longer alive for the 2019 session. An updated spreadsheet of the bills still moving through the legislative process can be viewed on our updated Hawaii 2019 Capitol Watch bill sheet. Below is a list of the bills that we have testified on and are still alive:

Carbon Free Hawaiʻi

  • Carbon Pricing

    • HB 1584 - [Support] University of Hawaiʻi to conduct a comprehensive study of a statewide carbon tax.

    • SB 1463 - [Comments] Replaces the environmental response, energy, and food security tax with a carbon emissions tax. Repeals state fuel taxes under the fuel tax law.

  • Clean Energy

    • SB 1289 - [Support] Requires a rooftop solar energy generation system to be installed on all new single-family residential dwellings that are not granted a variance beginning on 1/1/2022.

    • HB 550 - [Support] Requires the PUC to study the feasibility of implementing RPS to encourage the use of renewable energy by gas utility companies. Amends the RPS interim goals for 2030 and 2040 to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy.

Free the Streams

    • HB 1326 - [Oppose] Allows holdover permits for stream diversions to continue.

Planning for Rising Seas

  • Mandatory sea level rise exposure area disclosure in real estate transactions

    • HB 565 - [Support] Mandatory seller/purchaser disclosures within a sea level rise exposure area.

    • SB 1339 - [Support] Requires a purchaser statement with the sale or transfer of vulnerable coastal real estate.

    • SB 1340 - [Support] Requires mandatory seller disclosures in real estate transactions within a sea level rise exposure area.

    • SB 1126 - [Support] Requires seller disclosures in sea level rise exposure areas to ensure that new property owners and transferees understand the special hazards, requirements, and limitations that may affect the property.

  • Strengthening Coastal Zone Management Laws

    • HB 549 - [Support] Requires new developments to plan for the impacts of projected sea level rise and prohibits development in areas significantly affected by projected sea level rise.

    • SB 393 - [Support] Amends coastal zone management laws to further protect against impacts of sea level rise and coastal erosion. Requires new developments to plan for the impacts of projected sea level rise. Prohibits development in areas significantly affected by projected sea level rise.

    • SB 1113 - [Support] Amends policies and objectives related to coastal zone management to reduce residential exposure to coastal hazards and protect state beaches and public shoreline access.

  • Sea Level Rise planning

    • HB 765 - [Support] Requires incorporation of sea level rise projections in all new plans and updates to existing state plans generated under the Hawaiʻi State Planning Act.

    • HB 1487 - [Support] Establishes the Honolulu shoreline climate protection pilot project to develop a plan to protect urban Honolulu from the acute impacts of sea level rise, floodwater, storms, and other impacts of a rapidly changing climate.

    • SB 690 - [Support] Implements the recommendations of the Hawai‘i Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report issued by the Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission.

    • SB 1054 - [Support] Requires the State and counties to incorporate sea level rise and other climate change hazards and mitigation opportunities into applicable plans, strategies, and mapping. Requires the PUC to consider the findings in the Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report.

Administrative

  • Creation of State Department of Environment

    • HB 1586 - [Support] Establishes and transfers to a “Department of Environment” certain programs administered by various state agencies.

    • SB 1529 - [Comments] Establishes the Hawaii state energy office within the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism.

  • Department of Land and Natural Resources funding

    • HB 125 - [Oppose] Abolishes various non-general funds (Natural Area Reserves Funds) and accounts of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and transfers the balances to the general fund.

    • SB 1068 - [Support] Makes an appropriation to improve na ala hele, the Hawaii statewide trail and access program, by improving access to and maintaining state controlled recreational trails statewide and promoting hiker safety and hiker etiquette education and outreach.

    • SB 1262 - [Support] Adjusts the proportion of conveyance tax revenues deposited into the Land Conservation Fund.

    • SB 1386 - [Support] Requires DLNR to develop a state 2030 natural resources conservation goal action plan and allocates 1% of the transient accommodations tax to be used for the development, submission, and evaluation of progress of the action plan.

  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission Funding

    • SB 930 - [Support] Requires the climate change commission and coordinator to assist the State/counties with various sea level rise adaptation plans and climate change mitigation efforts.

    • SB 944 - [Support] Requires the Climate Change Commission to prioritize nature-based solutions in its climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts

  • Rules

    • HB 1403 - [Oppose] Exempts housing projects from environmental impact statement requirements.

Waste Reduction

  • Plastics

    • HB 717 – [Support] Creates Plastic Pollution Initiative

    • HB 762 – [Support] Prohibits providing straws unless requested

    • SB 11 – [Support] Polystyrene Foam Ban

    • SB 367 – [Support] Polystyrene Foam Ban

    • SB 521 – [Support] Creates Plastic Marine Debris Working Group

    • SB 522 – [Support] Single-use Plastics Ban

  • Recycling

    • HB 630 - [Oppose] Repeal Glass Container Program

    • SB 422 - [Support] Implements recycling audit recommendations

    • SB 893 – [Support] Recycling 1 & 2 bottle caps

    • SB 1527 – [Support] Beverage container plastic rings

  • Solid Waste

    • HB 562 – [Support] Construction Waste Working Group

    • HB 1016 – [Support] Implements Aloha+ Challenge Solid Waste Goals

    • SB 1242 – [Support] Implements Aloha+ Challenge Solid Waste Goals

Common Good Coalition

  • Automatic Voter Registration

    • HB 1217 - [Support] Automatic Voter Registration for driver's license and identification card applications.

    • HB 1485 - [Support] Establishes a process, beginning on January 1, 2020, for automatically preregistering or registering public school-enrolled students who are at least 16 years old.

    • HB 1544 - [Support] Establishes a task force to examine the implementation of an automatic voter registration system in the State.

    • SB 412 - [Support] Automatic Voter Registration for driver's license and identification card applications.

  • Taxation of Real Estate Investment Trusts

  • Social Services

    • HB 262 - [Support] Department of Agriculture to create a dollar-for-dollar matching program for beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program who use their benefits to purchase Hawaii-grown produce.

    • SB 390 - [Support] Department of Agriculture to create a dollar-for-dollar matching program for beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program who use their benefits to purchase Hawaii-grown produce.

Support HB 563: Coal Free by 2023

Do your part to make Hawaiʻi coal free by 2023! HB 563 prohibits the burning of coal in Hawaiʻi after 2022.

Call and email Representative Takumi TODAY and ask him to schedule HB 563 to be heard by FRIDAY 2/15. Call his office at 808-586-6170 and email him at reptakumi@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the world—responsible for one third of US carbon emissions. Burning coal is literally fueling climate change. Burning coal also has a devastating impact on public health, leading to as many as 13,000 premature deaths every year and more than $100 billion in annual health costs. Several principal emissions result from coal combustion, including:

  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2), which contributes to acid rain and respiratory illnesses

  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses

  • Particulates, which contribute to smog, haze, and respiratory illnesses and lung disease

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the primary greenhouse gas produced from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas)

  • Mercury and other heavy metals, which have been linked to both neurological and developmental damage in humans and other animals

  • Fly ash and bottom ash, which are residues created when power plants burn coal

Hawai‘i has only one coal-fired power plant remaining in service. The AES plant on O‘ahu has a power purchase agreement that is already set to expire in 2022. Passage of this bill ensures that Hawai‘i will be “coal-free by 2023”, solidifying plans to transition Hawai‘i from dirty energy and encouraging AES and Hawaiian Electric Company to redirect its focus to clean energy and battery storage projects. AES and the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative recently broke ground on Hawai‘i’s largest hybrid solar and battery storage system on Kaua‘i’s south shore, so we know that this company has great potential to also make the transition away from coal on the island of O‘ahu.

HB 563 furthers Hawai‘i’s commitment to 100% clean energy by 2045 and sets another example of the legislature’s ambitious leadership to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change.

Past hearings:

Support SB 1289: Solar-Ready New Homes

The Senate Committee’s on Housing and Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism is hearing SB 1289- Relating to Rooftop Solar Installation on Wednesday, February 13th at 3:15 PM.

This bill, also known as the Solar Ready Homes bill, is one of the most progressive and important pieces of legislation being heard at the legislature this year. The bill would require a solar energy generation system be installed on every new single-family home constructed after January 1, 2022. As you may know, last year California adopted a similar piece of policy that would require all new homes to have a solar energy system installed after 2020. They estimated that the cost of a new solar system actually saved a home-buyer money over a 30-year mortgage, saving the homeowner almost $20,000 over that same time period.

Submit testimony IN SUPPORT for SB 1259 by logging into your capitol.hawaii.gov account and clicking “submit testimony”. Sample testimony below:

Aloha Chair Chang, Chair Wakai, and Members of the Committees,

I STRONGLY SUPPORT SB 1289. This measure requires a rooftop solar energy generation system to be installed on all new single-family residential dwellings that are not granted a variance beginning on 1/1/2022.

Solar energy technology, such as solar photovoltaic and solar hot water, are proven to help people save money on their energy bill, reduce electrical demand and the use of fossil fuels, and combat climate change. With some of the highest amount of solar energy installations per capita, bills like SB1289 are well in line with Hawaii’s renewable energy goals and should be passed immediately. 

Hawaii still gets over 80% of its energy from dirty fossil fuels, and consumers are paying the price through high energy bills and carbon emissions. In the last 20 years, the price of solar energy has dropped to all time lows and it gets more affordable every single day. Rolling the cost of a solar system into the price of a new home makes it even more affordable. Similar policy enacted last year in California found that a homeowner would actually save almost $20,000 in energy and maintenance costs over the life of a 30 year mortgage.

Thank you for supporting clean solar energy and for the opportunity to testify in support of SB 1289. 

Support HB 1584 HD1: Carbon Pricing Study

Pacific Islands are amongst the first to see hard-hitting impacts of climate change—and Hawaiʻi is no exception. We are already seeing the impacts of climate change: eroding beaches and coastal roads, rain bombs and detrimental flooding, and rising sea levels and temperatures. These impacts can no longer be ignored and we are now at a critical time where we must massively reduce fossil fuel emissions. In 2015, Hawaiʻi committed to relying on 100% renewable energy sources by 2045. Then we upped the ante in 2018 by committing to be 100% carbon neutral by 2045. We must work hard to reach these goals and do more to ensure the transition to clean energy is accelerated and equitable.

Both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission support carbon pricing as the most effective action to reduce emissions. However, no state has adopted a carbon tax and Hawai‘i's carbon tax could disproportionately affect low and moderate income communities if not implemented correctly. We feel the urgency of climate change but believe that whatever carbon tax is implemented needs to be the right fit for Hawai‘i. Any proposal must integrate environmental and economic justice principles while achieving measurable carbon emissions reductions. That is why one of our top priorities this session is HB 1584 - Carbon Pricing Study.

HB 1584 HD1 is being heard Wednesday, 2/13 at 2pm in room 329 in the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. Please take a couple minutes to submit your testimony today!

There are a lot of different carbon pricing options, read about some of the options in the Civil Beat today.

Past hearings:

HB 1326- Stream Diversion Bill, Passes House Committee

Advocates stand with Rep. Tina Wildberger, South Maui District 11 Representative, after the hearing for hb 1326. Rep. Wildberger was the only Committee member to vote “no” on allowing unrestricted stream diversions to continue for another seven years.

Advocates stand with Rep. Tina Wildberger, South Maui District 11 Representative, after the hearing for hb 1326. Rep. Wildberger was the only Committee member to vote “no” on allowing unrestricted stream diversions to continue for another seven years.

HONOLULU, HAWAIʻI (February 11, 2019) -- Friday, the House Committee on Water, Land, and Hawaiian Affairs voted 5-to-1 in support of HB1326, which seeks to expand the temporary water diversion permits that were the source of immense controversy in 2016.

“Yep, here we go again,” said Marti Townsend. “Just as like HB2501 three years ago, this bill today favors wealthy corporations profiting at the expense of the people of Hawaiʻi by taking more than their fair share of water with no oversight and no accountability. There has been no substantive change in the three years since the last extension was passed.”

More than 600 people submitted written testimony, most in opposition, and more than a dozen people testified in person against the bill.  Many of these testifiers were from Kauaʻi and Maui, and suffer direct harm from the excessive diversion of streams in their communities.

“The level of injustice here is just outrageous,” said Nani Rogers, an elder Hawaiian activist from Kauaʻi.  “These diversions have been breaking the law -- and hurting our people, our neighbors -- for decades. We cannot build trust with each other and solve the problems we are facing, when we start with a hewa like this bill.”

Also testifying in opposition were the Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Earthjustice, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action, Sierra Club, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and Young Progressives Demanding Action.

HB1326 proposed to give diverters unlimited, unconditional permission to divert stream water indefinitely.  It was amended to reduce the time frame for unlimited diversions to 7 years, including authorization to continue diverting while permits are challenged in court.

Voting for the bill were: Committee Chairperson Ryan Yamane from Mililani, Vice Chair Chris Todd, and members Rep. Nicole Lowen, and Rep. David Tarnas, all from the Big Island, and Rep. Sharon Har, representing Kapolei. Rep. Thielen from Kailua/Kaneohe was absent and excused. Rep. Tina Wildberger from Maui was the sole no vote.

Testifying in support of the excessive stream diversions were major corporations and their supporters such as Mahi Pono (the new owner of A&B land in Central Maui), Grove Farms, the Hawaiʻi Crop Improvement Association, Land Use Research Foundation, Hawaiʻi Agriculture Research Corporation, and several chambers of commerce. There were no constituents at the hearing from the Big Island.

Former Lt. Governor-turned lobbyist, Shan Tsutsui testified on behalf of Mahi Pono in support of the bill.  When asked if Mahi Pono could support limitations on future stream diversions, Tsutsui did not commit. He only promised to read other bills, like HB848, that seek to share stream water more fairly.

Kauaʻi Island Utility Co-op and Grove Farms did not testify in person at the hearing.  KIUC diverts nearly all of Waiʻaleʻale stream for hydropower plants that produce 1% of the energy used on Kauaʻi before sending it to Grove Farms, who sells the water back to the county.  They have been diverting water on month-to-month permits for 15 years. No Environmental Impact Statement has been completed.

Several small farmers and ranchers also submitted testimony in support of the bill out of fear that current diversified agricultural efforts might be harmed by reduced stream diversions.

“It feels like the small farmers and ranchers that rely on relatively small amounts of water, often not sourced from streams, are being used as a cover for these large stream diverters that have been breaking the law for a very long time and are really damaging public streams and the communities that rely on them,” said Anne Frederick, Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action.  “No one is against local food production and clean energy, we just want the streams to be protected and the water more fairly shared.”


Contact House Water, Land, and Hawaiian Affairs Committee members:

Chair Ryan Yamane: 808-586-6150, repyamane@capitol.hawaii.gov

Vice Chair Chris Todd: 808-586-8480, reptodd@capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Sharon Har: 808-586-8500, rephar@capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Nicole Lowen: 808-586-8400, replowen@capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. David Tarnas: 808-586-8510, reptarnas@capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Tina Wildberger: 808-586-8525, repwildberger@capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Cynthia Thielen: 808-586-6480, repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov

Link to HB1326 testimony

Link to additional information on WaiForAll.com

Support SB 1339 & SB 1340: Mandatory Sea Level Rise Disclosure

Two priority bills relating to mandatory sea level rise disclosure for real estate transactions will be heard by WTL on Friday, 2/8/19 @ 1:20 PM in Room 229. Please use our testimony form below to click-and-submit testimony in support of SB 1339 and SB 1340.

SB 1339 - [Support] Requires a vulnerable coastal property purchaser statement to be executed by the purchaser or transferee with the sale or transfer of vulnerable coastal real estate.

SB 1340 - [Support] Requires that mandatory seller disclosures in real estate transactions include identification of residential real properties lying within a sea level rise exposure area.

We are also supporting HB 565, a similar House bill that combines both seller/purchaser disclosures and has already had its first committee hearing.

Support SB1068: Na Ala Hele Funding

Like to hike? Support this bill that provides funding to the Department of Land and Natural Resources Na Ala Hele Program. Na Ala Hele is a state trail and access program that managing over 128 trails that span 850 miles throughout Hawai‘i.

SB1068 has a hearing this Friday—please submit written testimony in SUPPORT of this bill. You can copy and paste the below testimony for quick action and can submit this through your capitol account or via email to WTLtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov (make sure to include your name and contact information if submitted via email).

Sample testimony:

Subject: Testimony in support of SB1068 - WTL hearing on Friday 2/1 at 1:15pm


“Aloha Chair Kahele, Vice Chair Keith-Agaran, and members of the Senate Water and Land Committee. I’m writing in strong support of SB1068, which appropriates funding for Na Ala Hele, the State’s Trail and Access Program. Keeping up with the increasing impacts on our beloved hiking trails is a constant challenge. This bill would provide critical funds for improving access and maintaining state controlled recreational trails statewide and promoting hiker safety, hiker etiquette education, and outreach. Please support SB1068 and pass this bill.”

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of SB1068.