Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi's Legislative Priorities in 2018
In addition to being ever-watchful for bills that threaten our public trust resources, this year at the legislature we are following a wide range of proposals related to our mission to help people explore, enjoy, and protect the Hawaiian Islands.
Sea Level Rise - click here to learn more about sea level rise
With sea levels rising quicker than anticipated, lawmakers will consider several pilot approaches to encourage critical infrastructure be relocated inland.
Setbacks: Part of a disaster planning package to encourage high-risk properties to preemptively set-back oceanfront structures before-the-fact, instead of building emergency seawalls and obtaining retro-active permits after-the-fact. Bill priorities: HB 2468, HB 2469, HB 2106, SB 2334, SB 3068, SB 3063
Carbon - click here to learn more about carbon
Carbon dioxide emissions are one of the biggest contributors to global climate change. Hawaiʻi should do more to mitigate the carbon that already exists in our atmosphere.
Carbon Offsets: Establishes programs for state agencies and other businesses that offset their carbon emissions. Bill priorities: HB1986
Carbon sequestration: Helps Hawaiʻi build a resilient clean energy economy that takes in more carbon than it produces by 2045. Bill priorities: HB2724
Infrastructure: Improving aging infrastructure is key to protecting our environment, as well as encouraging affordable housing in the urban core. Several bills will be introduced to improve our aging infrastructure that include:
- Water mains and sewer improvements
Watersheds: While the DLNR budget remains the primary source of funding for watershed protections, we should expect a few bills that fund protections in specific watersheds. Bill priorities: HB 1977, HB 2543, SB 2672, SB 2675, SB 2676, HB 1987
Ban on Killer Sunscreen: Oxybenzone, octinoxate, and other chemicals pose a risk to fragile reef environments and human health. We are continuing to support legislation that prohibits the sale of sunscreen containing these harmful ingredients. Bill priorities: HB 2264, HB 2723, HB 1391, SB 2571, SB 2409
Fishing: There is a new proposal to establish recreational fishing licenses, which seeks to better manage our near-shore fisheries.
Clean ground transportation: We are determined to have a fossil fuel-free ground transportation system by 2045 and will support legislation that aligns with the counties' commitment to achieve this goal.
Distributed renewable energy policies including:
- Imposing performance-based rate standards on Hawaiian Electric Company to bring their private-profit interests in line with the public’s interests
- Authorizing private microgrids
- Improvements to our 100% renewable energy goals
Saying NO to coal: We are also renewing our push for a coal-free Hawaiʻi by 2023 and supporting energy resiliency planning to ensure our electrical grids can rebound after the next hurricane.
Trails and Parks: Our most precious natural areas are chronically underfunded and overused. The Sierra Club looks forward to supporting proposals to dedicate new funding to better manage our trails, parks, and beaches; including bills to improve hiker safety. Bill priorities: HB 479, SB 2331
DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES FUNDING
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is the sole agencies responsible for protecting Hawaiʻi's finite resources. Today, the department functions off of a meer 1.2% of the overall state budget. Bill priorities: SB 2446
Cesspools: The Department of Health is introducing a grant program to support families in converting their cesspools to more sustainable forms of waste management. This is crucial as cesspools in coastal areas pose a major risk to human health as well as the environment. Bill priorities: HB 2268, HB 2626, HB 2732, HB 1722/SB 2717, SB 2567, SB 2117, SB 2642
Single-use plastics & polystyrene: We will be supporting bills to better empower counties to regulate these waste streams, as well as regulate other large-scale consumers of these harmful products. Bill priorities: HB 1937/SB2498, HB 2625/SB 2964, HB 371, HB 2107, SB 2285, SB 2127
Recycling: Expect bills to modify or even end our current recycling programs due to cost. Pressure is increasing to supply the private operator of Hawaiʻi’s waste-to-energy incinerator with more and more burnable trash. While H-Power may reduce the amount of waste going the landfill, it is certainly not clean energy nor is it sustainable. The solution is more on-island recycling facilities so we do not ship our waste to other communities. Bill priorities: HB 1806, HB 1800, HB 2726/SB 3099, HB 184, HB 2025, HB 2095, SB 418, SB 2110, SB 2120
Sustainable agriculture: We will continue to support bills that encourage small-scale diversified agriculture and carbon farming.
We will continue to support bills that regulate industrial agriculture operations, particularly those bills regulating the application of restricted-use pesticides (RUPs) and implementing buffer zones around sensitive areas; which not only protects soil, stream, and nearshore ecosystems, but also human health. Bill priorities: HB 2721, HB 2722, HB 2495/SB 2837, HB 1756/SB 2456, SB 2469, SB 3095, SB 2126
It is important to keep an eye on bills affecting taxes and fees. There are proposals to redirect funds collected via the barrel tax, raise the cap on the conveyance tax—which is used for the protection of important natural areas—and to capture new public income from Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).
HAWAIʻI ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
We support analyzing the opportunity to reorganize state agencies to centralize environmental protection efforts into one agency. Currently several agencies have some level of responsibility for protecting our environment, including the Departments of Health, Agriculture, and Land and Natural Resources. Bill priorities: HB 2026