The Trump Administration may not give a damn that we’re trashing the planet, but it’s nice to see officials in Hawaii and Maui County certainly do. On Tuesday, June 6, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed two bills that commit the state to work ever harder to combat climate change–an imperative given the substantial dangers that rising sea levels pose to island communities.
The first, SB 559, “expands strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide in alignment with the principles and goals adopted in the Paris agreement,” according to a news release sent out that day by the Governor’s office (Hawaii is the first state in the U.S. to pass such a law, in the wake of Trump’s recent abhorrent decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement). The second, HB 1578, establishes a state Carbon Farming Task Force to promote “the capture and long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide to mitigate climate change.”
“Hawaii is committed to environmental stewardship, and we look forward to working with other states to fight global climate change,” Ige said at a June 6 signing ceremony, which was attended by around a hundred activists and officials. “Together, we can directly contribute to the global agenda of achieving a more resilient and sustainable island Earth. The Hawaii state Legislature understands the importance of taking action, and I applaud its work this session to ensure that we continue to deliver the island Earth that we want to leave to our children.”
State Senator J. Kalani English, D–East Maui, Lanai, Molokai, introduced SB 559. He said the bill Ige signed “adopted relevant sections of the Paris Agreement as state law, which gives us legal basis to continue adaptation and mitigation strategies for Hawaii, despite the Federal government’s withdrawal from the treaty.”
Marti Townsend, Sierra Club Hawaii‘s Director, seemed quite pleased with Ige’s action. “Signing this bill demonstrates the strength of local governments and communities to inspire significant positive change in the world,” she said in Sierra Club Hawaii news release, also sent out on June 6. “In committing to reduce our local greenhouse gas production, Hawaii is inspiring every community throughout the U.S. and the world to do its part as well.”
What’s more, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa recently signed Bill No. 127 into law (the bill recently unanimously passed the Maui County Council). That restricts the use and sale of polystyrene food containers in Maui County.
“It gives me great pleasure to sign into law this Ban on Foam Polystyrene Food Service Containers, as it furthers the environmental protections for our community that we first enacted when we signed the plastic bag ban into law back in 2011,” Arakawa said in a June 5 letter to the Maui County Council. While Arakawa did note several concerns with the bill–the higher cost of non-polystyrene containers, potentially “excessive fines” and the fact that the bill doesn’t exclude imported, out-of-state products that contain polystyrene, most notably–he said in his letter that “since this law does not go into effect until 2019 I believe there should be plenty of time for manufacturers, distributors and retailers who buy, sell and use takeout food containers to adjust to the new market.”
Photo courtesy Sierra Club Hawaii