Leilei Joy Shih
Leilei Shih found her niche in Hawaii, where she married her passion (the ocean) with her drive (science and academics). She is excited to be a part of Capitol Watch, a groundbreaking portal into the Hawaii State Legislature for environmentally minded citizens. She was raised in the Bay Area of California, and has a B.A. in Astrophysics from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A.S. in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and is currently working on her PhD in Oceanography at the University of Hawaii. Leilei is on the Executive Committee of Surfrider Foundation Oahu and is Director of Communications for the Bamboo Bike Project. In her free time you are likely to find her underwater.
A Call to Action! Help Support Bill 72 to Ban Smoking from Waikiki Beaches!
Apologies for the late notice on tomorrow's hearing on Bill 72. You can still submit email testimony here, or testify in person at the hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, March at 10am at Honolulu Hale.
Did you know cigarette butts are one of the most littered items on the beach? While small in size, cigarette butts pose a large environmental problem. It’s estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered each year worldwide. Cigarette filters trap chemicals and when submerged in water the chemicals leach into ecosystems, threatening the water quality and aquatic life. Wildlife can mistake cigarette butts as food. Many people incorrectly believe cigarette butts are made of biodegradable cotton. In fact, cigarette contains cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, which slowly breaks down, but never fully decomposes. Secondhand smoke is a human health hazard.
The final hearing for Bill 72 will be held on Wednesday, March 20, 10 am at Honolulu Hale. This bill will ban smoking on staffed County beaches from Ala Moana to Sandys. This bill complements Surfrider Foundation's “Hold On To Your Butts” campaign, as beaches that have banned smoking have also seen a drastic reduction in the number of butts littering the sand in other states such as California.
Address your testimony to the Honolulu City Council and note that it is in SUPPORT OF BILL 72, and be sure to include your name and address/phone. A few talking points:
· Cigarette butts are toxic and pose a threat to environmental and public health.
· Our beaches should be clean and safe for residents and tourists to enjoy.
For more information about the hearing please see:
Importantly, the revenue generated from the bag fee would go towards protecting Hawaii’s watersheds. Hawaii’s native wildlife and plants are threatened by habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change, and the watersheds provide our current and future drinking water and are important to the health of our coastlines. If the bag fee successfully cuts bag use in half, we would generate $15 million yearly for the much needed watershed initiative.
Two bills aimed at reducing the amount of food-service Styrofoam containers, properly known as Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam, will be heard tomorrow at the Hawaii State Legislature.
SB 619 would ban all EPS foam food service containers, which pose environmental and human health risks.
SB 620 would mandate that all restaurants and food providers offer compostable food containers at the same price as EPS foam ones.
EPS poses a significant environmental threat. Due to its lightweight nature, wind readily blows it out into the environment and onto the ocean. EPS also readily breaks down into little pieces and is frequently ingested by marine life. In one startling study of gut content, it was found that up to 40% of fish had ingested Styrofoam, effectively entering the human food chain.
Styrene, which is readily emitted from the foam, especially when holding hot food or when used for reheating, is a known carcinogen for animals and is strongly suspected to be a carcinogen for humans.
Typically less than 1% of Styrofoam is recycled in the U.S., with none of it being recycled in Hawaii. It is the second most common type of beach debris, and in 2011, almost 20% of waste gathered in California highway cleanup efforts was polystyrene.
Over 70 cities and counties in California alone have already enacted some form of polystyrene ban, as well as countries around the world, such as China and Haiti.
Adopting sustainable practices, and in particular, reducing deleterious marine debris, is imperative for Hawaii, where the ocean is an essential part of both culture and economy.
SB 619 and SB 620 will be heard tomorrow, February 7 at 2:45pm in Conference Room 225 at the Hawaii State Capitol in the Committee on Energy and Environment and the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.
With your help we have come a tremendous distance towards reducing the amount of deleterious plastics in the environment. Our Bag Bill at the state legislature has remained one of the brightest items on the radar and garnered more diverse and exuberant support than any environmental bill in recent history. While the state Bag Bill which would implement a 10 cent fee on both plastic and paper bags awaits its precarious fate in the final two weeks of the legislative session, we will continue to build support to see it through. A press conference for HB 2483 last Thursday made the evening news and news publications across the nation, rousing even more support and pressure on House Leadership reluctant to move this popular bill. At this time, all we can do is ask Speaker of the House Calvin Say to recognize the will of the people and businesses of Hawaii, and move HB 2483. Please continue to call his office at (808) 586-6100 and voice your support for the Bag Bill.
In the meantime, we are proceeding with the enactment of a plastic bag ban for the City and County of Honolulu, following in the footsteps of Kauai, Maui, and Big Island. All of the outer islands have been rewarded with a dramatic reduction of plastic in the environment- Oahu residents visiting the outer islands marvel at their experiences while surfing and not seeing locally ubiquitous plastic bags floating by. THIS Wednesday, April 25, the City Council will likely pass a plastic bag ban (Bill 10) through the City and County of Honolulu. We want to make sure this will happen, so please join us for the hearing on Wednesday, April 25 at 10AM. The hearing will be held in Kapolei at:
The torturous uphill battle of Hawaii’s statewide bag bill has bewildered its countless and widespread supporters. Representative Marcus Oshiro has taken to announcing that the legislature will not pass the bill this year, although it is still alive and awaits its journey through conference committee and ultimately a floor vote. HB 2483’s fate is at the mercy of recalcitrant House members determined not to bend to popular support over personal interests! Once the conference committee members are known, we will have a short window to ask specific members to make sure the single-use bag bill lands on the supportive Governor’s desk, to be signed into law. In the meantime, please keep the pressure on key House member Representative Marcus Oshiro by calling his office at (808) 586-6200, and House Speaker Calvin Say at (808)-586-6100, and telling them you expect the bag bill to keep moving.
We are also putting our forces behind Bill 10, the City and County of Honolulu’s bag bill. In current form, Bill 10 would only apply to plastic bags, and would start off as a 3 cent fee, and going up to 5 cents after 1 year. After an undetermined time period, the fee will become a ban. Ultimately, a plastic bag ban would be a huge environmental victory, a goal that many of us have been working towards for years now. We hope to add paper bags to the county bill, with the ultimate outcome of a plastic bag ban coupled with a paper bag fee. The next hearing for the county bag bill has not been scheduled, but is expected to take place near the end of the month.
Friends, we have reached the infamous hurdle for the throwaway bag bill, SB 2511. In order for the bill to keep moving (not die), it must be scheduled for a hearing with the Finance Committee very soon! Please call Chair Marcus Oshiro at (808) 586-6200 and ask him to schedule a hearing. This is the committee that stopped the house version HB 2260 in its tracks, and could do the same to the only remaining Bag Bill.
SB 2511 has overwhelming public support—from numerous retailers (such as Tamura's Market, Safeway, Times, and Down to Earth), environmentalists (Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club, Kanu Hawaii), and businesses (such as Castle & Cooke Resorts, and the Pacific Resources Partnership) alike. This measure would place a ten cent fee on paper and plastic bags thereby encouraging people to bring reusable bags to the store and keeping harmful plastic bags out of the environment. One of the attractive aspects of this measure was the fact that it would have produced an estimated $12 million in funding for watershed protection, one of Governor Abercrombie's key initiatives. University of Hawaii climatologist, Tom Giambelluca, recently reported that Hawaii has seen a century-long trend of decreasing rainfall, with greater declines in the last 30 years. Recent scientific research has shown that healthy native rainforests help capture rainfall and direct the water into our aquifers, rather than simply washing off into our oceans.
The “Bag Bill” SB 2511, which would place a small fee on throwaway checkout grocery bags and generate funds to preserve and protect Hawaii’s watersheds has its second to last committee hearing this Tuesday, March 20 at 8:30 a.m. with the House Committee on Economic Revitalization & Business in conference room 312.
SB 2511 has widespread support from consumers, retailers, and environmental groups alike, and has been one of the hottest legislative topics in recent Hawaii news! Hawaii would be the first State in the Nation to have statewide legislation addressing pressing the problem of plastic bags in the environment and the heavy environmental footprint of both paper and plastic bags. Be a part of what is sure to be a historic moment, not just in Hawaii but also in the Nation!
Join us on March 20th for a Rebuild the Dream event-- a "pop-up dinner" conversation with nationally renowned speaker and activist Van Jones, live poetry, music, and conversation in the Capitol Rotunda.
Van Jones was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2009, served as a Special Advisor for Green Jobs to President Obama, is founder of Rebuild the Dream and is the bestselling author of Green Collar Economy.
This FREE EVENT is sponsored by Hawaiʻi with Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) Hawaiʻi, Kanu Hawaiʻi, Sierra Club, Common Cause Hawaiʻi, UNITE HERE Local 5, Surfrider Foundation, Blue Planet Foundation, and University of Hawaiʻi.
We want to fill the Capitol Rotunda with folks who will bring their ideas to the State Capitol and settle in for a discussion with Van about creating a sustainable, equitable economy. Van Jones will present a platform for bottom-up, people-powered economic solutions to promote sustainable agriculture, state banks, and affordable education.
The Dream Revivals are cultural, political, spiritual, and educational celebrations being held across the country, for the 99% movement—thousands are joining celebrities, musicians, artists, and progressive leaders calling for a more just and sustainable economy.
Hawaiʻi's gathering features slam poetry by Kealoha, live music by Kupa 'aina and Jive Nene, and a discussion with renowned activist Van Jones.
Hawaii’s Deposit Beverage Container Program, a.k.a. the Bottle Bill has been a tremendous success, keeping 686 million bottles out of our limited landfill space each year. Being an island State means we cannot keep burying our waste, especially when we have a good system in place to collect and recycle our bottles. Including more containers in the program will keep more material from entering the waste stream.
However, a loophole exempting “dietary supplements” in the law allows some trendy drinks such as vitamin waters, mineral waters, and lemonade-type drinks to be exempt from this successful deposit program that encourages recycling of beverage containers. In addition, wine bottles and hard spirit bottles are also not part of the Deposit Beverage Container Program and are sometimes not accepted at recycling centers.
The Senate Throwaway Bag Fee bill has its first hearing on the House side this Tuesday, March 13 at 9 a.m. in conference room 325 with the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection (EEP). SB 2511 is the only Watershed Initiative-funding single-use bag bill that is still alive, which means it is critical we continue to show strong support so that it will continue through its upcoming committee hearings with EEP, Economic Revitalization & Business (ERB), and Finance (FIN) Committees. You can submit your testimony online here.
Another excellent way to show support for our Throwaway Bag Fee Bill is to write Letters to the Editor. The Bag Bill has been getting quite a bit of media attention and we need positive responses to overwhelm any negative responses. It’s easy to write a ~150 word, succinct letter for papers like the Star-Advertiser. Submit your Letter in support of the Bag Bill to the Editor here.