INDEX - ENVIRONMENT
www.islandbreath.org ID# 0403-08

SUBJECT: ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION

SOURCE: JUDY DALTON dalton@aloha.net

POSTED: JULY 2004 - 2:45pm

2004 Legislature Scorecard

Public gallery in nthe Hawaiian State House

Environmental Scorecard for 2003-2004 Session

The Sierra Club, Hawai`i Chapter unveiled its biennial environmental scorecard today that ranks Hawaii's lawmakers on how they voted for -- and against -- the environment during the 2003 - 2004 legislative sessions.

"This scorecard presents a clear picture of how our state lawmakers voted on important issues impacting Hawaii's environment," said Jeff Mikulina, Director of the Sierra Club, Hawai`i Chapter, "For citizens who feel the process at the State Capitol is too confusing or just too far removed from their daily lives, our scorecard serves as an accurate gauge of how well their elected officials are protecting Hawaii's environment."

In the State House, nine representatives essentially tied for the best score of 93%. Among the nine were newcomers Tommy Waters (D -- Waimanalo), Maile Shimabukuro (D -- Waianae, Makaha), and Kirk Caldwell (D -- Manoa). Energy and Environmental Protection Committee Chair Hermina Morita (D -- North Kauai) shared the top honors again, as she did on the 2002 scorecard. Rep. Morita's advocacy for clean energy, recycling, and species protection was noted by the organization.

In the State Senate, Senator Les Ihara (D -- Palolo) received the only perfect score. The Sierra Club, Hawai`i Chapter noted his "behind-the-scenes advocacy" and willingness to take principled stands as grounds for the perfect score. Sen. Kalani English (D -- Hana, Molokai, Lanai), Sen. Carol Fukunaga (D -- Ala Moana), and freshman Sen. Gary Hooser (D -- Kauai) tied for the second-best score of 92%. "Legislators who rank in the 90's on our scorecard have demonstrated a commitment to Hawaii's sustaining resources, imperiled species, breathtaking beauty" said Mikulina. "They understand that a healthy environment is the foundation of a strong economy."

Representatives Colleen Meyer (R -- Kaneohe) and Mark Jernigan (R -- Kailua-Kona) received the lowest scores in the House. Meyer's consistent votes against strong environmental legislation -- including bills to reduce muddy runoff, increase recycling, and control invasive species -- earned her the lowest score of 7%. Senators Sam Slom and Fred Hemmings each received a score of 15%, tying for the lowest honors in the Senate. "It is disappointing to see some lawmakers consistently voting against common-sense environmental solutions," said Mikulina.

The scorecard was to be used to provide relative comparisons of environmental sensitivity among legislators. While the environmental record of any one legislator can only be judged by all of his or her actions, the Sierra Club's scorecard gives community members a rough guide of each legislator's level of environmental stewardship. The scores were calculated based on a combination of floor votes on environmental bills that were a priority to the Sierra Club. The measures included bills to regulate discharge from cruise ships, repeal automatic permit approval, strengthen the bottle deposit law, fund natural areas, reduce the coastal light pollution impact to birds and turtles, and other green initiatives. In addition to tallying floor votes on these measures, the scores included an "environmental index": a measure of other environmental actions the legislator took during the sessions.

The index used a scale of 0 to 4 (represented on the chart as birds). Each legislator's score is a percentage of the maximum points (13 possible for the Senate; 14 for the House). Senate and House scores are based on different measures, so score comparisons between the two are not valid.

Scores on the 2003-2004 Scorecard were, on average, lower than the group's 2002 report card. The Sierra Club pointed to the lackluster performance of environmental bills over the past two sessions as the reason. "There is no doubt that those ranking low on the scorecard will criticize our methodology," said Mikulina. "But most will agree that those on the bottom of the scorecard have simply placed their priorities elsewhere -- at the expense of environmental protection."

"The process of state lawmaking is largely out of the sight of most citizens," explained Mikulina. "Much of what constituents learn about their lawmakers comes from the lawmakers themselves -- through campaign literature or soundbites. We want to provide a tool that cuts through the rhetoric and reveals the real actions of each legislator. "Constituents have a right to know how their elected officials are voting on issues that impact Hawaii's environment."


The 2003-2004 Legislative Scorecard is available online at
http://www.hi.sierraclub.org/scorecards/

http://www.mac.com//redirect/

http://www.hi.sierraclub.org/scorecards/


by Jeffrey Mikulina: Director, Sierra Club, Hawai'i Chapter
tel: 808.538.6616
j.mikulina@lava.net

www.hi.sierraclub.org


SUBJECT: ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION

SOURCE: JEFFREY MIKULINA j.mikulina@lava.net

2004 Legislature Environmental Wrap-up

May 2004 - 4:00pm

Interiorer of Hawaiian State House in Honolulu
 
Success at the state capitol is a moving target. I think it’s fair to say that slight progress was made this session, although the legislature missed many opportunities this year to advance island sustainability. Below is a recap of environmental measures that passed or failed (and why) during the 2004 legislature. Mahalo to everyone who made a difference by calling or emailing lawmakers throughout the session.
 
If you would like to send a message to state legislators thanking them for passing environmental measures and asking for progress on environmental measures that failed this year, send a letter to all House members by clicking here, and all Senate members by clicking here.
 
Good bills passed and enacted.
 
HB 2498 HD1, Emergency endangered species rulemaking. Allows the Department of Land and Natural Resources to fast-track interim rules to protect native species threatened with imminent extirpation or extinction.
 
HB 1294 SD1 CD1, Strengthening environmental review process.
This decent bill requires an environmental review for wastewater facilities, waste-to-energy facilities, landfills, oil refineries, and power-generating facilities. The measure also, however, allows county planning departments to be accepting authorities for completed environmental impact statements, possibly reducing public input on the acceptance process.
 
HB 1800 CD1, Land acquisitions - State supplemental budget. The legislature appropriated funds for a number of land acquisition projects statewide. $1 million was made available for the purchase of 1100 acres at Pupukea-Paumalu, in hopes to leverage additional county and federal funds. $300,000 was appropriated to help with the acquisition of Mu`olea Point near Hana on Maui. $500,000 was made available for plans and acquisition of private lands on the Big Island in the South Kona Wilderness Park.
 
HB 1800 CD1, Invasive species programs - State supplemental budget. $4 million was appropriated for invasive species prevention, control, and research programs for 2004-2005.
 
Good bills passed by the legislature (awaiting Governor’s signature)
 
SB 1611 CD1, Bottle law improvements and rules. In veto-resistant votes, both the House and the Senate reaffirmed their commitment to the bottle law, an initiative which promises to vastly decrease litter in Hawai`i and increase recycling of beverage containers. The law will take effect on schedule, January 1st, 2005. This bill makes a few adjustments to the bottle bill law that was passed two years ago by improving the system for reporting and redeeming beverage containers for retailers and redemption centers. The bill also contains the rules that were drafted in the past two years by the Health Department, thereby eliminating the administrative rulemaking process that was being slowed by the beverage industry and the Lingle Administration.
 
HB 1743 HD2 SD2, Stopping coastal light pollution. This important bill to prohibit large floodlights from shining onto the ocean water was introduced at the request of a fisherman who witnessed a decrease in fish where bright lights were. Such artificial lights have been documented as causing the death of hatching sea turtles, fledgling shearwaters, nocturnal flying sea birds and migratory birds. The bill is tailored to prohibit lights that are clearly intended to illuminate coastal waters for aesthetic purposes, not lights for safety or ocean navigation (lighthouses are exempt). The final bill does, however, exempt coastal lighting from hotels and hotel condos that shines up to 30 feet from the coastline.
 
HB 2048 HD1 SD1, Net energy metering expansion. This clean energy bill allows larger renewable energy devices to be “net metered”—that is, hooked up to the electrical grid in a way that allows the owner to effectively “sell” their surplus power in order to reduce their power bill. The bill increases the allowable system size from 10 kilowatts to 50 kW, encouraging more individuals and businesses to invest in clean energy. Of the 34 states that allow net metering, 13 allow systems of 100 kW or larger. The final bill unfortunately includes additional requirements on generators with systems between 10 and 50 kW.
 
HB 2074 CD1, Environmental violations. This common sense measure ensures that penalties for businesses that violate environmental or cultural laws are not automatically waived or reduced (something that is currently required for small business).
 
SB 2968 CD1, “Traffic court” for natural resource law violations. This bill creates a civil natural resource violations system within the Department of Land and Natural Resources to expedite the enforcement of environmental laws within their jurisdiction. The bill also increases the ability to enforce cave protection and historic resources statewide.
 
SB 3044 HD1, Misdemeanor for obstructing public access. This bill creates a misdemeanor offense for obstructing public access to the sea, the shoreline, any inland recreational area by way of or through any of the public rights-of-way, transit areas, or public transit corridors, and sets minimum fines.  
 
HB 2375 HD1 SD1, Felony for chronic or major dumpers. This waste control bill makes it a class C felony offense to knowingly dump of certain amounts of solid waste outside of a landfill. The felony charge only applies after the individual is busted twice before or they dump greater than ten cubic yards of waste or the cost of cleaning it up is over $1500.
 
SB 3092 CD1, Bounty for busting dumpers
. This bill will help to prevent the illegal dumping that is occurring statewide by allowing for a “bounty” of 50% of the fines collected to a person who reported the dumping if a conviction should result. The remainder of the fine would go to the agency that enforced the dumping law.
 
HB 2049 CD1, Increasing government energy efficiency funding options. This good bill encourages energy conservation by government agencies by increasing the allowable length of “energy performance contracts” from 15 years to 20 years and broadening financing options.
 
SB 2134 HD1, Emergency environmental workforce. This bill permanently establishes the emergency environmental workforce to assist the counties in their fight against invasive species, albeit with no appropriation. Some of the $4 million invasive species funds from the budget could be used for the environmental workforce through the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai`i.
 
SB 2474 SD3 HD2, Electricity Standards (MIXED BAG). Ideally this measure would require our electric utilities to provide ten percent renewable energy by 2010, 15% by 2015, and 20% by 2020. Such a clean energy mandate—albeit with smaller percentages—is supported by Governor Lingle. Setting a policy on the amount of clean energy production in the state protects consumers from the vagaries of the future oil market, keeps dollars within the state, and improves our environment. But the measure that passed the legislature (HD2)—while it would reduce our dependence on oil and reduce the need to develop new fossil fuel powerplants—is troublesome because it defines certain fossil fuel electricity generators as “renewable,” requires the clean energy sources to be at or below the utilities “avoided cost” (ignoring possible future oil price increases), and asks various departments to “expedite” permits for renewable projects—which under this bill might not be clean sources as traditionally defined.
 
Bad bills that failed
 
SB 2949 SD2, Weakening state superfund law. This bill would have amended the state superfund law by making changes to the requirements that property owners need to complete in order to be exempt from future liability. These changes may allow exemptions from liability for actions that merely “contain”—instead of “clean up”—hazardous substances or pollutants. Containment may not last forever. If future liability is going to be waived, the Sierra Club believes that hazardous waste or toxic substances should be cleaned up, not merely “contained” on site.
 
SB1611 Bottle bill delay. One of the earlier drafts of SB1611 would have delayed implementation of the bottle bill by at least 6 months.The beverage industry nearly convinced House lawmakers that they need more time to implement the beverage container recycling law. But the truth is, two and one half years was plenty of time to develop a strategy for beginning the recycling law (and some bottles at the store already have HI 5-cent labels), but retailers and the beverage industry kept on fighting the law’s implementation.
 
HB 2344, Weakening the State Water Code. This measure attempted to make an end run around the public trust doctrine by amending the water code to provide that the protection of agricultural uses of water is in the public interest. 
 
SB 2405, Landfill bill. This suspicious bill may have allowed the development of a landfill over our aquifer.
 
SB 1491 SD1, Raiding the environmental funds. This bill transfers $2 million out of the Natural Area Reserves fund (used for various conservation programs statewide) and nearly $2 million from the state parks special fund. Hawaii’s environment has been shortchanged for too long—now the legislature tried to raid what little they have left!
 
Good Bills that failed
 
HB 2924 HD1, Stopping muddy runoff. This measure would have helped to prevent the muddy runoff events that happen statewide after a rain. The bill would have clarified that developers have to take all reasonably precautions to prevent muddy runoff, codified that citizens to bring suit for state water law violations, and increased penalties. The bill died in House Judiciary Committee (Rep. Eric Hamakawa, Chair).
 
SB 1556 SD2 HD2, Fixing shoreline determination process. This great bill helped fix the process by which Hawaii’s shorelines are identified and certified when determining the setback for coastal developments. The bill clarifies that the shoreline is at the highest wash of waves during the season when the highest wave wash occurs or the vegetation line (whichever is further mauka), increases public notification of shoreline certifications, and prohibits manipulation of the vegetation line. The bill died in conference committee when differences couldn’t be worked out between the strong House draft (above) and the weaker Senate version, which was being pushed by Sen. Lorraine Inouye.
 
HB 2166 HD1, Protecting ag lands from luxury sprawl. This great bill would help to prevent luxury subdivision sprawl by establishing a presumption that a house is not a “farm dwelling” if certain nonagricultural features in a subdivision or development are determined to be present (eg. security gates, country club facilities). The bill died in Sen. Lorraine Inouye’s Water, Land, and Agriculture Committee.
 
SB 3116 SD2, Cruise discharge regulation. This important measure attempted to codify the existing voluntary agreement between the cruise industry and the State regarding cruise ship discharge. While the bill allows for penalties and sets up a monitoring and inspection program funded through a small passenger fee, this measure really didn’t go far enough to protect Hawaii’s coastal waters. The bill should have prohibited all sewage and greywater (galley and shower wastes) from being discharged into Hawaii’s state waters. While the industry touts its latest “advanced wastewater treatment systems,” such equipment may not adequately remove nutrients from the effluent, possibly causing problems if it is discharged into nearshore waters. The measure died when Rep. Joe Souki and Rep. Jerry Chang refused to hear the bill in a joint committee hearing.
 
HB 2937, Appropriate permitting. This bill would have repealed the existing “automatic permit approval” law that allows permits or rezonings to be approved by default if a deadline passes while a government agency or board is still deliberating the application. Automatic approval jeopardizes our coastal resources, scenic vistas and native Hawaiian rights. This repeal bill was supported by the Lingle Administration. The measure failed to receive a hearing in Rep. Dwight Takamine’s Finance Committee. (The measure from last year remained stuck in Sen. Cal Kawamoto’s Committee.)
 
HB 1951 HD1, Dedicated funding for open space and coastal land acquisition
. This measure would have established a 1% set-aside from the state capital improvement project budget (used for building infrastructure and other projects) to fund coastal land and special place acquisition. Considering the importance of Hawaii’s wild coastal lands for recreation, habitat, tourism, and the scenic beauty, a dedicated source of funding to protect them is badly needed. Failed to receive a hearingin Rep. Dwight Takamine’s House Finance Committee.
 
SB 2125 SD1, Funding for the Natural Area Reserves. This measure would have helped to fund the environmental programs with a slight increase the conveyance tax for high-end property conveyances. The measure should be amended to allow the increased conveyance tax to fund the Natural Area Reserve System. While sensitive native habitats in the NAR System are degrading due to inadequate management and invasion from non-native pests, sales of luxury homes are skyrocketing—largely to buyers from outside the state. Yet Hawai`i currently has one of lowest conveyance tax rates in the nation. Failed to receive a hearing in the House Water, Land, and Hawaiian Affairs Committee (Rep. Ezra Kanoho).
 
HB 2969 SD1, Allowing solar panels on condos
. This clean energy bill was the result of an individual in Ewa, O`ahu, who had the gall to install a solar water heater on the garage of his condo. The homeowners association told him to take it down because it violated their bylaws. This bill would ensure that individuals will not be restricted from doing the right thing by unfair association bylaws, covenants, or conditions. Died in Sen. Ron Menor’s Consumer Protection and Housing Committee.
 
SB 2682 SD2, Solar for all new homes. This bill would have required solar hot water heaters for all new residential developments—something that Israel has mandated since 1957. Unfortunately, this bill also allows installation of a propane heater to meet the “solar” requirement, a concession to the Gas Company who lobbied for the amendment. Measure died in Rep. Hermina Morita’s Energy and Environmental Protection Committee.
 
HB 2167, Ensuring public access. This good bill would prohibit gated communities that deny public access to any coastal shoreline or mountain or inland areas used for recreational or cultural purposes. With the proliferation of gated luxury subdivisions statewide, this measure is needed to protect the interests of the public. Senator Cal Kawamoto’s and Sen. Lorraine Inouye’s committees voted the bill down.
 
SB 643 SD2 HD3, Protecting Hawaii’s rights to biodiversity. This bill would have started the process to address the issue of bioprospecting in Hawai`i—the exploration of wild plants, animals and marine life for commercially valuable genetic and biochemical resources. This bill sets up a fairly balanced commission to address environmental and cultural concerns surrounding bioprospecting, including equitable benefit sharing. The bill never received a conference committee hearing, which was chaired by Rep. Ezra Kanoho and Sen. Lorraine Inouye.
 
HB 2495 HD1, Ungulate control in sensitive areas. This bill would have allowed federal agencies to conduct animal control activities from aircraft or conservation programs on state, county, or private land. The Department of Land and Natural Resources is also required to develop rules to minimize animal suffering from such activities. The bill failed to receive a joint committee hearing chaired by Sen. Lorraine Inouye and Sen. Cal Kawamoto.
 
SB 2477 SD1, HD1, Guam Inspections. This bill would help to prevent the introduction of the brown tree snake or other invasive species by encouraging the inspection of cargo that is being exported from Guam to Hawai`i. The brown tree snake decimated Guam's native bird species and has had significant negative impact on the territory's economy. The bill was held by the House Judiciary Committee (chaired by Rep. Eric Hamakawa).
 
SB 2417 SD2, Big box recycling. This good recycling bill would have reduced the burden on Hawaii’s landfills by requiring large retailers and wholesalers to send at least 75% their shipping materials and pallets back to where they came from. The measure died in Rep. Morita’s Energy and Environmental Protection Committee.
  
HB 2964 HD1, Aquatic inspections. This bill would have helped protect our coastal waters from illegal fishing by allowing state inspectors to inspect any bag, vehicle, or container used to carry aquatic life. Currently inspectors must have “probable cause” to inspect. Privacy is protected because consent to inspection is already an integral part of the terms of any permit or license issued for fishing. The bill was held by Sen. Colleen Hanbusa’s Judiciary Committee.
  
HB 2314 HD2, Reducing environmental review conflict of interest. This bill allows the Office of Environmental Quality Control to make a final acceptance determination of environmental review statements. Frequently, the same agency proposing an activity is also the “accepting authority.” The conflict of interest is clear. The Office has the familiarity and the expertise to make a proper, objective determination of the disclosure of impact from a particular proposal. The measure failed to receive a joint committee hearing chaired by Sen. Kalani English and Sen. Cal Kawamoto.
 
SB 3052, HD2, Identifying important agricultural lands. (MIXED BAG) This bill attempts to set up a system to identify agricultural lands of importance to Hawai`i, fulfilling the constitutional requirement. While it contains some of the good components that were developed by the “Ag Working Group” over the past year, such as diverse criteria for what constitutes “important” agricultural lands (IAL), retaining the existing Land Use Commission (LUC) process, and eliminating the 15-acre exemption for IAL, the bill contains a number of flaws that are unlikely to be fixed this session. The bill requires the LUC to adopt IAL within 120 days, and it expands the allowable uses of ag lands to include ag tourism dwellings—a loophole that surely would be exploited. The bill also does not acknowledge the important natural and cultural resources that are frequently found on agricultural lands (eg. Hokulia). Failed in conference committee.
 
Regulating Genetically modified organism testing HB 2053, HB 2054, HB 2055. HB 2053 would have prohibited the use of food crops for the genetic engineering of drugs, industrial chemicals, and other non-good materials. HB 2054 would have assigned liability for injury caused by genetically engineered organisms to the person or company engaging in the damaging activity. HB 2055 would have regulated the production of pharmaceutical crops and industrial crops and imposed civil penalties for violations. NONE of the bills received a public hearing (HB 2053 and HB 2055 were not heard in Rep. Jun Abinsay’s Agriculture Committee and HB 2054 were not heard in Rep. Brian Schatz’s Economic Development and Business Concerns Committee.)


SUBJECT: ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION

SOURCE: JEFFREY MIKULINA j.mikulina@verizon.net

The Legislature still has many issues to resolve

11 March 2004 - 8:30pm

Aerial view of Hawaiian State House in Honolulu
                                        
It's halftime at the Legislature. But the only things we are going to expose here are the good and bad environmental measures that are still alive.

PRIORITY ENVIRONMENTAL BILLS
 
SB 2474 SD3, Renewable Energy Standards. This measure—should it pass with a floor amendment in the Senate Thursday—would require our electric utilities to provide nine percent renewable energy by 2010, 20% by 2015, and 30% by 2020. Such a clean energy mandate—albeit with smaller percentages—is supported by Governor Lingle. Setting a policy on the amount of clean energy production in the state protects consumers from the vagaries of the future oil market, keeps dollars within the state, and improves our environment.
 
HB 2166 HD1, Protecting ag lands from luxury sprawl. This great bill helps to prevent luxury subdivision sprawl by establishing a presumption that a house is not a “farm dwelling” if certain nonagricultural features in a subdivision or development are determined to be present (eg. security gates, country club facilities).
 
HB 2167, Ensuring public access. This good bill prohibits gated communities that deny public access to any coastal shoreline or mountain or inland areas used for recreational or cultural purposes. With the proliferation of gated luxury subdivisions statewide, this measure is needed to protect the interests of the public.
 
SB 3116 SD2, Cruise discharge regulation. This important measure attempts to codify the existing voluntary agreement between the cruise industry and the State regarding cruise ship discharge. While the bill allows for penalties and sets up a monitoring and inspection program funded through a small passenger fee, this measure currently doesn’t go far enough to protect Hawaii’s coastal waters. The bill should be amended to prohibit all sewage and freshwater (galley and shower wastes) from being discharged into Hawaii’s state waters. While the industry touts its latest “advanced wastewater treatment systems,” such equipment may not adequately remove nutrients from the effluent, possibly causing problems if it is discharged into nearshore waters.
 
HB 1743 HD2, Stopping coastal light pollution. This important bill to prohibit large floodlights from shining onto the ocean water was introduced at the request of a fisherman who witnessed a decrease in fish where bright lights were. Such artificial lights have been documented as causing the death of hatching sea turtles, fledgling shearwaters, nocturnal flying sea birds and migratory birds. The bill is tailored to prohibit lights that are clearly intended to illuminate coastal waters for aesthetic purposes, not lights for safety or ocean navigation (lighthouses are exempt).
 
HB 2074 HD1, Environmental violations. This common sense measure ensures that penalties for businesses that violate environmental or cultural laws are not automatically waived or reduced (something that is currently required for small business).
 
HB 1029 HD1, Appropriate permitting. This bill repeals the existing “automatic permit approval” law that allows permits or rezonings to be approved by default if a deadline passes while a government agency or board is still deliberating the application. Automatic approval jeopardizes our coastal resources, scenic vistas and native Hawaiian rights. This repeal bill is supported by the Lingle Administration.
 
SB 2125 SD1, Funding for the Natural Area Reserves. This measure would help to fund the environmental programs with a slight increase the conveyance tax for high-end property conveyances. The measure should be amended to allow the increased conveyance tax to fund the Natural Area Reserve System. While sensitive native habitats in the NAR System are degrading due to inadequate management and invasion from non-native pests, sales of luxury homes are skyrocketing—largely to buyers from outside the state. Yet Hawai`i currently has one of lowest conveyance tax rates in the nation.


 OTHER GOOD ENVIRONMENTAL BILLS
 
ENERGY
HB 2048 HD1, Net energy metering expansion. This clean energy bill would allow larger renewable energy devices to be “net metered”—that is, hooked up to the electrical grid in a way that allows the owner to effectively “sell” their surplus power in order to reduce their power grid. The bill increases the allowable system size from 10 kilowatts to 50 kW, encouraging more individuals and businesses to invest in clean energy. This bill could be amended to allow even larger devices; of the 34 states that allow net metering, 13 allow systems of 100 kW or larger.
 
HB 2969 HD1, Allowing solar panels on condos. This clean energy bill was the result of an individual in Ewa, O`ahu, who had the gall to install a solar water heater on the garage of his condo. The homeowners association told him to take it down because it violated their bylaws. This bill would ensure that individuals will not be restricted from doing the right thing by unfair association bylaws, covenants, or conditions.
 
SB 2682 SD2, Solar for all new homes. This bill would require solar hot water heaters for all new residential developments—something that Israel has mandated since 1957. Unfortunately, this bill also allows installation of a propane heater to meet the “solar” requirement, a concession to the Gas Company who lobbied for the amendment.
 
HB 2966 HD2, Clean energy “wheeling.” This bill allows government agencies to send renewable electricity that they generated from one facility to another over the power grid. This would enable the government to produce power at one facility and use it at another.


HABITAT AND ECOSYSTEMS
HB 2034 HD3, Protecting Hawaii’s rights to biodiversity. This bill starts the process to address the issue of bioprospecting inHawai`i—the exploration of wild plants, animals and marine life for commercially valuable genetic and biochemical resources. This bill sets up a commission to address environmental and cultural concerns surrounding bioprospecting, including equitable benefit sharing.
 
HB 2495 HD1, Ungulate control in sensitive areas. This bill allows federal agencies to conduct animal control activities from aircraft or conservation programs on state, county, or private land. The Department of Land and Natural Resources is also required to develop rules to minimize animal suffering from such activities.
 
SB 2477 SD1,Guam inspections. This bill would help to prevent the introduction of the brown tree snake or other invasive species by encouraging the inspection of cargo that is being exported from Guam to Hawai`i. The brown tree snake decimated Guam's native bird species and has had significant negative impact on the territory's economy.
 
SB 2973 SD1, HB 2498 HD1, Emergency endangered species rulemaking. This good bill allows the Department of Land and Natural Resources to fast-track interim rules to protect native species threatened with imminent extirpation or extinction.
 
SB 2968 SD1, HB 2493 HD1
, “Traffic court” for natural resource violations. This measure would increase the enforcement capability of the Department of Land and Natural Resources by establishing a civil natural resource violations system. Strong penalties for natural resource violations are important to serve as a deterrent to potential violators.
 
SB 2134, Emergency environmental workforce. This good bill would appropriate funds to permanently establish the emergency environmental workforce to assist the counties in their fight against invasive species.


WASTE AND RECYCLING
SB 2417 SD2, Big box recycling. This good recycling bill would reduce the burden on Hawaii’s landfills by requiring large retailers and wholesalers to send at least 75% their shipping materials and pallets back to where they came from.
 
SB 3092 SD1, Dumping enforcement. This bill appropriates funds to the department of health to expand its solid waste management enforcement and monitoring capabilities.
 
HB 2968 HD2, Bottle bill tweaks. No need to worry—this measure simply makes a few adjustments to the bottle bill law that was passed two years ago. The bill improves the system for reporting and redeeming beverage containers for retailers and redemption centers. This effective recycling and litter control measure will still take effectJanuary 1, 2005, when consumers will receive five cents back for returning bottles and cans for recycling.
 
HB 2375 HD1, Felony for chronic dumpers. This waste control bill makes it a class C felony offense to knowingly dump of certain amounts of solid waste outside of a landfill. This bill should contain a citizen suit provision to increase enforcement of Hawaii’s anti-dumping laws.



LAND AND AGRICULTURE
HB 2759 HD1,Save Sunset Beach. OK, not exactly Sunset Beach, but the lands above it that were previously slated for development. This bill appropriates funds for the purchase of Pupukea-Paumalu on the North Shore of O`ahu. Unfortunately, a measure to create a dedicated funding source for public land acquisition statewide failed earlier in the session.
 
HB 1848 HD1, Exceptional trees. This bill allows homeowners to claim a $3,000 deduction for trees on their property that are deemed “exceptional.”
 
HB 2849 HD1, Waianae organics. This bill appropriates funds to support the establishment of an organic agriculture center and improve food security in Waianae.


 COASTAL
HB 2964 HD1, Aquatic inspections. This bill helps to protect our coastal waters from illegal fishing by allowing state inspectors to inspect any bag, vehicle, or container used to carry aquatic life. Currently inspectors must have “probable cause” to inspect. Privacy is protected because consent to inspection is already an integral part of the terms of any permit or license issued for fishing.
 
SB 2400 SD1, Creating the Kapoho Bay recreation area. This good bill directs the department of land and natural resources to establish the Kapoho Bay recreation area as part of the conservation district.
 
HB 1946 HD1, Beach restoration fund. This bill allows taxpayers to check off $1of their income tax refund to be paid into the beach restoration special fund.


ACCESS
SB 3044
Public access. This good measure helps to protect public access by instituting a misdemeanor penalty and fines for any person obstructing access to the sea, the shoreline, any inland recreational area, or any of the public rights-of-way, transit areas, or public transit corridors.


PERMITTING
HB 2314 HD
Reducing environmental review conflict of interest. This bill allows the Office of Environmental Quality Control to make a final acceptance determination of environmental review statements. Frequently, the same agency proposing an activity is also the “accepting authority.” The conflict of interest is clear. The Office has the familiarity and the expertise to make a proper, objective determination of the disclosure of impact from a particular proposal.


BAD BILLS FOR HAWAII’S ENVIRONMENT
SB 2949 SD2, Weakening state superfund law. This bill amends the state superfund law by making changes to the requirements that property owners need to complete in order to be exempt from future liability. These changes may allow exemptions from liability for actions that merely “contain”—instead of “clean up”—hazardous substances or pollutants. Containment may not last forever. If future liability is going to be waived, the Sierra Club believes that hazardous waste or toxic substances should be cleaned up, not merely “contained” on site.
 
SB 1491 SD1, Raiding the environmental funds. This bill transfers $2 million out of the Natural Area Reserves fund (used for various conservation programs statewide) and nearly $2 million from the state parks special fund.Hawaii’s environment has been shortchanged for too long—now the legislature is trying to raid what little they have left!
 
SB 3051 SD2, Agriculture incentives and Biotech. This measure does two things. First, it sets up an ag land protection board that is tasked with finding ways to protect ag lands through easements. This is generally a good thing, and something that has been missing from the other agricultural bill discussions. The second part of the bill, however, is cause for concern. The measure appropriates funds to the Hawaii Agricultural Research Center and the University of Hawaii college of tropical agriculture for, among other things, biotechnology research. The Sierra Club is concerned that further expansion of biotechnology testing in Hawai`i without adequate protections jeopardizes our native species, ecosystems, and traditional farming operations.


MIXED BAG
SB 3052, SD1, Identifying important agricultural lands. This bill attempts to set up a system to identify agricultural lands of importance to Hawai`i, fulfilling the constitutional requirement. While it contains some of the good components that were developed by the “Ag Working Group” over the past year, such as diverse criteria for what constitutes “important” agricultural lands (IAL), retaining the existing Land Use Commission (LUC) process, and eliminating the 15-acre exemption for IAL, the bill contains a number of flaws that are unlikely to be fixed this session. The bill requires the LUC to adopt IAL within 120 days, and it expands the allowable uses of ag lands to include ag tourism dwellings—a loophole that surely would be exploited. The bill also does not acknowledge the important natural and cultural resources that are frequently found on agricultural lands (eg. Hokulia).
 
SB 1556 SD2, Fixing shoreline determination process. This OK bill helps fix the process by which Hawaii’s shorelines are identified and certified when determining the setback for coastal developments. The bill clarifies that the shoreline is at the highest wash of waves during the season when the highest wave wash occurs, and increases public notification of shoreline certifications. The measure should be amended by deleting any reference to vegetation growth (an indicator occasionally abused by homeowners who want to reduce their setback).



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