MEASURES THE SIERRA CLUB SUPPORTS:
SB 2277 - Relating to Endangered Species
This measure continues the safe harbor agreement, habitat conservation plans, and incidental take license programs. It does not continue the citizen suit language, which was included as a careful result of discussions with impacted businesses, environmentalists, and agency staff. Suggested Amendment: Return to the original language of SB 2277, which had wide-ranging agreement from the community.
SB 2305 - Deletes the "One-Gallon Per Person Per Day" Exception to the Prohibition to the Removal of Sand
Sand belongs on beaches. This measure would allow for the inadvertent taking of sand from the shoreline, but prevent intentional removal of sand in such a way that it makes enforcement difficult. It also reduces the cumulative impact of a number of people removing sand over a period of time.
SB 2402 - Relating to Light Pollution
This measure requires shielding of State outdoor light fixtures. Light pollution detrimentally impacts wildlife. On Kauai, for example, seabird fallout due to poor light fixtures is a major threat contributing to the decline of the endangered Newell's Shearwater, seabird whose population has decreased by approximately 75% in recent years. Poor light fixtures also increase the consumption of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.
SB 2511 - Throwaway Bag Fee to Fund Watershed Protection
A major environmental initiative, this bill creates an offset fee for most throwaway bags (whether paper or plastic) and incentivizes retail stores to encourage the use of less-harmful bags. Using the funds generated to fund watershed protection is a smart way to take an environmental problem -- millions of wasted bags -- and use it to fund create environmental solutions.
SB 2512 - Funding Food and Energy Security
This measure currently extends the task force overseeing the barrel tax (and renames it to the Hawaii Food and Energy Security Council). The Sierra Club prefers the SD1 version of this measure, which also ensured the funding necessary to ensure planning and implementation of Hawai`i’s energy and food goals. The increase in funding is smart and needed improvement to ensure Hawaii actually meets its ambitious goals.
SB 2787 - Electricity Reliability
This measure authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to oversee the reliability of the electrical grid, rather than relying simply upon the utilities. All generators of electricity seeking to provide power to the grid should be governed by objective and fairly-applied standards, rather than arbitrary standards created by a potential competitor. By authorizing the transfer of this operation to the PUC, the legislature can eliminate concerns about the utilities using reliability as a means to unfairly harm competitors and ensure reliable electricity production.
SB 2822 - Electronic Waste Task Force
The Sierra Club supports this measure, which creates a task force to examine ways to reduce waste electric products that enter our crowded landfills. Nevertheless, we prefer making specific improvements to our current law while the discussions continue. A simple solution would be to amend HRS 339D-4 to state:
At a minimum, the plan shall provide for collection of covered electronic devices at monthly collection events or regular collection sites open at least two days per week, including one weekend day, within not more than [sixty miles from a high density population area as defined by the department in rules] twenty miles from a United States Postal Zip Code with a population greater than twenty-five thousand or as as otherwise required by the department;
SB 2824 - Removing the Diet Supplement Drink Exception to the Bottle Law
Despite its success with redeeming over four billion beverage containers, the bottle law can be improved. Some drinks are utilizing a loophole -- a “dietary supplement” exemption -- in order to evade complying with our beverage container (HI-5) law. There is no logical basis to exempt these beverages from our incredibly successful recycling program and to allow certain distributers to have an advantage in the marketplace.
SB 2923 - Relating to 'Opihi Harvesting
'Opihi populations have declined drastically over the past few decades. This bill proposes to establish science-based and management controls that ensure future generations can enjoy 'opihi in the water. It's time to give the little guy a break by passing effective and sound guidelines for responsible management.
MEASURES THE SIERRA CLUB OPPOSES IN CURRENT FORM:
SB 2341 - Tourism on Agricultural Property
This measure would encourage high-revenue producing vacation rentals as an authorized use on agricultural land, which in turn would raise the price of agricultural land for true agricultural activities. Lessees, for example, may have to pay more as new and more expensive “highest and best uses” (the normal phrase used to determine lease rents) are established on agricultural land. Farmers may have to stop producing food and switch to vacation rentals simply to stay in business. The resulting loss of productive agricultural land will have a cascading impact on the price of the remaining parcels.
Tourism is also an intensive activity requiring special conditions to deal with noise, traffic, and infrastructure needs.
Our current system already allows for vacation rentals to occur, either by obtaining a special use permit (say, for example, an agricultural "work and sleep" operation) or by rezoning the property into the rural district.
SB 3010 - Exempting Bridge Construction Projects from All Environmental Regulations
This measure waives numerous state environmental regulations (clean water, clean air, wildlife protection, historic properties, etc.) for bridge development projects. Such an act violates the state constitution and likely puts many of our federally funded programs, like the Coastal Zone Management or Clean Water programs, at risk of losing critically-needed federal funds.
The exemption of any project from environmental review should be based on the project's potential impact, and not on scheduling needs.
Perhaps most galling about this measure is the fact that DOT officials privately indicate that the bill would have little or no impact on expediting projects. Most of the bridge projects still require federal approval. For example, in order to get Federal section 401 water quality certification, DOH would have to sign off -- but DOH would no longer have the authority under chapter 342D to do so. We see this measure as holding up a number of projects in bureaucratic delay and litigation, rather than fulfilling the intent of the bill.