HB 1326 back from the dead! Email the senate TODAY!

We need to act now!  A&B’s senators are pulling out extraordinary measures to pass A&B’s preferred version of the HB1326, which would allow them to continue to divert streams for seven more years and retain $62 million from the sale of their land.  

ICYMI: Thursday, in decision making in its joint hearing in the Senate Committees on Water and Land and Ways and Means, HB 1326—the “Water Theft Bill” was killed… but now it’s possible it’s a zombie and it’s coming back. Click here to take action.

Summary of this week

HB 1326 was heard in its joint WTL/WAM hearing on Tuesday, April 2. After more than 6 hours of testimony—majority in opposition, only 2 in support, and over 700 written testimony submitted—604 against, 100 comments and 40 in support, members of the committees moved to defer decision making until Thursday, April 4th.

Thursday, WTL Chair Kahele introduced an amended bill that would cut out A&B—essentially stopping them from receiving any more extensions on their temporary permits to divert water, while also ensuring that small ranchers and farmers would have access to the water they need. WTL voted 3-2 to pass the amended version (Sen. Kahele, Riviere, and Nishihara in favor; Sen. Fevella and Keith-Agaran against; Sen. English absent).

Quickly after, WAM Chair Dela Cruz called for a recess, counted his votes, reconvened and moved to defer the bill indefinitely. Typically this means that the bill is dead for the session but more shenanigans ensue...

Where we are now

We knew it was possible the bill could come back from the dead, we just didn’t know exactly how. Now we know that A&B’s senators are working to get enough votes to bring HB 1326 to the floor. If A&B’s senators are successful in bringing the bill to the floor, then they will need 13 votes to pass the measure. They will be voting on HB1326 HD2. This is the version that passed over from the House (7-year extension to A&B and farmers), not the version with Sen. Kahele’s thoughtful amendments (3-year extension to only farmers, conditions on DLNR). This is because WAM deferred the bill before they voted on it, so it was not fully amended by the joint committee.

If HB1326 HD2 passes the Senate floor vote, then it will go directly to the Governor for signature. It will bypass the House because HB1326 HD2 is the exact same bill the House already passed out.

Which brings us to… ALL HANDS ON DECK. Let’s flood the senators’ inboxes, asking them to vote down this zombie bill once and for all. Click here to email all 25 senators, urging them to not favor A&B’s financial interests over the best interests of the streams and the people.

We need our senators’ to VOTE NO on HB 1326 HD2. Click here to take action.


OPPOSE HB1326 HD2: Free our streams from corporate water theft


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 

Vice Chair: Cullen, Ty J.K. 

Committee members:
Kitagawa, Lisa (voted with reservations)

Holt, Daniel 

Todd, Chris 

Hashimoto, Troy N. 

Yamashita, Kyle T. 

Nakamura, Nadine K. 

Kobayashi, Bertrand 

Nishimoto, Scott Y. 

McDermott, Bob 

Gates, Cedric Asuega 

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!!


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.


  • 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 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:

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.

2019 State of the State

Governor David Ige and Marti townsend, sierra club of hawaiʻi director

Governor David Ige and Marti townsend, sierra club of hawaiʻi director

In his fifth annual State of the State Address, Governor David Ige came out strong, prioritizing the restructuring of Hawaiʻi’s education system, reallocating the Transient Accommodation Tax, building more affordable housing, and investing in Hawaiʻi’s open spaces and special lands.

Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi issued this response to Gov. Ige’s speech:

“Clearly, Governor Ige is committed to following through on his promises to the people of Hawaiʻi. He laid out a plan to ensure a brighter future for everyone here by preserving Hawaiʻi’s watersheds, investing in state parks, trails, and beaches, exploring innovative technologies in clean energy and carbon sequestration, and increasing local food production.

His well-received speech recognized the interconnectivity of the environment, housing, public infrastructure, and the economy and emphasized a holistic approach to ensuring a sustainable future for us all in Hawaiʻi.

He demonstrated real out-of-the-box leadership by identifying specific creative solutions to long-standing challenges. Although he did not specifically mention the climate change concerns, they appear to be motivating everything he is working towards to protect our collective future.”

Gov. Ige’s commitments include:

  • Increasing funding for land conservation by removing the $6.8 million cap on the 10% conveyance tax to the Legacy Land Conservation Program

  • Committing $3.9 million over two years for Sustainable Hawaiʻi Initiatives to support our biosecurity plan, watershed protection, and the agricultural loan revolving fund.

  • Removing the $103 million cap in the Transient Accommodation Tax—allocating a percentage to the counties and increasing the earmarked $3 million to $10 million for trails, parks, and waters.

  • Exploring innovative technologies in renewable energy, carbon sequestration, and local food production, including sequestering carbon in locally produced concrete.

  • Constructing permanently affordable housing on state land in the urban core of Honolulu and along established public transportation routes.

You can watch the State of the State on Hawaiʻi News Now’s Facebook.

And we're off!

The 2019 Legislative Session is officially underway! Our staff and volunteers had a great time walking the halls on opening day and are geared up for session.

Events Around Opening Day

Get geared up for the 2019 legislative session by attending these upcoming events!

Legislative Preview
Thursday, January 10, 12-1:30pm at Hawaiʻi State Capitol room 329 by Honolulu Civil Beat

Raise Up Hawaiʻi to a Living Wage
Thursday, January 10, 4:45-5:30pm at Hawaiʻi State Capitol by Raise Up Hawaiʻi

Kuʻi 2019
Wednesday, January 16, 9am-3pm at Hawaiʻi State Capitol by Hui Aloha ʻĀina Momona

YPDA Opens Up The Legislature
Wednesday, January 16, 10am-12:30pm at Hawaiʻi State Capitol by YPDA Hawaiʻi

Women’s March - Oʻahu: Women’s Wave
Saturday, January 19, 9:30am-3pm at Hawaiʻi State Capitol by Women’s March Hawaiʻi