Sunday, May 22, 2022 |
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HONOLULU — With its adjournment, the state Legislature passed several environmental protection and energy measures.
The bills promote energy efficiency, economy-wide decarbonization, a continued push to accelerate the clean energy transition, and measures to reduce the energy burden borne by low- and moderate-income families.
“The bills we passed this year will help reduce Hawai‘i’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, save tax dollars, support local, green jobs and protect our planet’s future,” said state Rep. Nicole Lowen, Energy and Environmental Protection Committee chair.
The committee also passed several measures to support
sustainable land management and regenerative agricultural practices and promote composting. These bills will lower emissions associated with agriculture, help farmers financially, and reduce waste.
“The use of regenerative farming practices and compost creates healthy soils that can better keep carbon in the ground and diverts organic waste from landfills at the same time,” said state Rep. Lisa Marten, vice chair of the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee.
Another bill creates a cesspool conversion grant program aimed at cesspools in priority areas owned by households that earn at or below 140% of the area median income.
State Rep. Lisa Kitagawa, vice chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee and author of this measure, said, “This grant will provide much-needed financial assistance to local families who need to convert their cesspools by 2050.”
Other bills passed by the committee include a bill to phase out the use of toxic “forever chemicals” in food packaging, which will help to keep these toxins out of human bodies and the environment, and a bill to update and improve the state’s electronic waste program. The passage of the electronic waste bill will help the counties to provide more-frequent e-waste collection events and greatly decrease the amount of electronics that wind up in landfills.
State Rep. Sylvia Luke, Finance Committee chair, was instrumental in securing funding for these bills. “In crafting the budget this year, we made sure to prioritize important environmental initiatives, including providing $5 million for cesspool grants, $2.3 million for carbon sequestration incentives for good land management and agricultural practices, and $1 million for the compost reimbursement program,” Luke said.
Other energy and environmental protection bills that have been sent to the governor for his consideration include:
w House Bill 1801 – Energy Efficiency of State Facilities
Buildings account for more than 2/3rds of all electricity consumed in the state. This bill directs the state to lead by example in implementing energy efficiency measures that will save energy and money and create clean energy jobs. This bill also requires that state building energy use data be collected and made publicly available, and that all new facilities be designed to maximize energy and water efficiency, and use low-carbon building materials, where feasible and cost-effective;
w House Bill 1800 – Pathways to Decarbonization Study and 2030 goals
This bill sets interim greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030 of 50% reduction over 2005 levels, in line with the Paris Agreement, and funds a comprehensive study to determine Hawai‘i’s pathways to decarbonizing Hawai‘i’s economy to meet the state’s 2030 and 2045 goals, and to identify challenges, opportunities and actions needed to meet these goals. The study will consider not only the electricity sector, but also transportation, aviation, land use planning, agriculture and workforce development. It will also include consideration of how to mitigate any impacts to low-income families and individuals, and promote environmental justice;
w House Bill 2089 – Renewable Portfolio Standard Loophole
This bill fixes a longstanding loophole in the formula used to calculate the electric utilities’ progress on renewable energy. Closing this loophole means there will be a more accurate accounting of Hawai‘i’s true progress towards 100% renewable energy;
w Senate Bill 3325 – Carbon Smart Land Management Assistance Program
Creates the Carbon Smart Land Management Assistance Program to provide incentives for farmers and foresters to manage their lands in ways that help to sequester carbon emissions;
w Senate Bill 3004 – Compost Reimbursement Program
Creates incentives for farmers and landscapers to use compost, supports regenerative agriculture and helps to bolster the market for compost.
w House Bill 1992 – Permitting for Composting
Removes zoning barriers and provides support for navigating the permit process for medium- and large-scale composting;
w House Bill 2195 – Cesspool Compliance Grant Program
Establishes a grant program for low- and moderate-income property owners or state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands lessees to assist with the costs of cesspool conversions on properties that are near shorelines or other water sources;
w House Bill 1644 – PFAS Chemicals
Phases out the use of toxic forever chemicals that have been shown to cause numerous harmful impacts to human health in certain types of food packaging and firefighting foam;
w House Bill 1640 – Electronic Waste
Updates and improves the state’s electronic waste recycling program. This bill provides more funds to the counties to expand electronic waste collection events, increases recycling goals for manufacturers and collectors, and expands the types of electronics to be collected;
w Senate Bill 2998 – Deposit Beverage Container Redemption Center Audits
Requires the state Department of Health to conduct risk-based audits of deposit beverage container redemption centers to help reduce fraud and improve the HI-5 program.
Additionally, the state Senate passed concurrent resolutions that are not sent to the governor and are non-binding position statements:
w Senate Concurrent Resolution 242 – LIHEAP
Convenes a working group to examine how to best implement a state-level Low Income Household Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in Hawai‘i.
w Senate Concurrent Resolution 48 – Energy Equity and Justice
Directs the state Public Utilities Commission and state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to integrate considerations of energy equity and justice across their work.
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