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  • Writer's pictureHawai'i House Democrats

Legislature Passes Key Energy and Environmental Protection Measures

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi ─ With the adjournment of the 2022 legislative session, the Hawaii State Legislature passed several important environmental protection and energy measures. The Legislature reaffirmed its climate leadership with bills to 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 Hawaii's contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, save tax dollars, support local, green jobs, and protect our planet's future," said Energy and Environmental Protection Committee Chair Nicole Lowen (House District 6).

The Committee also passed several measures this year to support sustainable land management, regenerative agricultural practices, and to 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 Vice Chair of the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, Lisa Marten (House District 51).

Another important bill that passed this session 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. Lisa Kitagawa (House District 48), 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. Thanks to the legislature for supporting this bill, as it will have a positive impact on both the health of our community and our environment."

Other bills passed by the committee this year include a bill to phase out the use of toxic "forever chemicals" in food packaging, which will help to keep these toxins out of our 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 our landfills.

Finance Chair Sylvia Luke (House District 25) 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."

Energy and Environmental Protection bills that have been sent to the Governor for his consideration include:

1. House Bill 1801 – Energy Efficiency of State Facilities Buildings account for more than 2/3s of all electricity consumed in the State and HB 1801 directs the State to lead by example in implementing energy efficiency measures that will save energy, save 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.

2. 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. This bill also funds a comprehensive study to determine Hawaii's pathways to decarbonizing Hawaii'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, environmental justice and frontline communities.

3. 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 Hawaii's true progress towards 100% renewable energy.

4. 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 Hawaii.

5. Senate Concurrent Resolution 48 – Energy Equity and Justice Directs the Public Utilities Commission and Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to integrate considerations of energy equity and justice across their work.

6. 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.

7. Senate Bill 3004 – Compost Reimbursement Program Creates incentives for farmers and landscapers to use compost, supporting regenerative agriculture and helping to bolster the market for compost.

8. House Bill 1992 – Permitting for Composting Removes zoning barriers and provides support for navigating the permit process for medium- and large-scale composting.

9. House Bill 2195 – Cesspool Compliance Grant Program Establishes a grant program for low- and moderate-income property owners or DHHL lessees to assist with the costs of cesspool conversions on properties that are near shorelines or other water sources.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. Senate Bill 2998 – Deposit Beverage Container Redemption Center Audits Requires Department of Health to conduct risk-based audits of deposit beverage container (DBC) redemption centers to help reduce fraud and improve the DBC program.



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