The Sierra Club is asking Legislative candidates to back fee increases on cars and trucks, agree to limit the size of homes on ag land to 1500 sq feet, start closing down HECO plants, and give lots of money to eco-make work projects. Read for yourself what candidates may be agreeing to if they receive the Sierra Club nomination.
After each question below, the candidate is given a range of answers such as:
- Strongly Agree
- Strongly Disagree
- No Position
We have omitted these for the sake of brevity.
Election Survey Questions
Environmental Record and Platform -
The Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club is a volunteer-lead and grassroots organization with over 12,000 members and supporters throughout the state. We work to elect candidates who will lead the fight to protect our communities and natural surroundings, and to enact pro-environmental initiatives. Candidates supported by the Sierra Club include those who address climate change and champion legislation to protect our air, water, and wild places.
What do you believe are the top three environmental issues facing Hawaii? Please be specific.
What are some of your accomplishments and contributions that demonstrate your commitment to protecting the environment? Please be specific.
The Challenge of Climate Change -
Even if we dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions immediately and avoid the worst effects of climate change, we can still anticipate increased storm events, sea level rise, and ocean acidification/coral reef loss. Hawaii will likely be impacted by climate change more than any other state in the United States. Sea level rise could exceed 3 feet above the 1990 level by the end of the 21st century, devastating coastal wetlands, estuaries, and a significant portion of our commercial and residential centers. Already, approximately 25% of beaches on Oahu have been lost to seawall construction.
In addition, climatologists have observed a century long trend of decreasing rainfall, with greater declines in the last 30 years. Climate change is expected to hasten this trend.
In anticipation of sea-level rise, and stronger storm-surge, I support legislation to strengthen management of our coastal zones, including greater coastal set-backs for development, and the removal of illegal sea walls.
I support actively protecting Hawaii's watershed areas (including funding the fencing and removal of invasive species) so as to ensure drinking water is available for future generations and resilient habitats are set aside for Hawaii's unique birds and plants.
In Hawaii, water is a constitutionally protected resource, which is held in trust for the benefit and use by all its citizens. The Water Code has an established and clearly defined process by which the balance of competing interests, relative to the supply and conservation of water, is addressed through a quasi-judicial process and participation of interested parties. I support allowing this process to proceed without interference by the legislature.
Creating a Clean Energy Economy -
Putting Hawaii on a path to greater energy security and creating a clean energy economy is the greatest challenge facing our elected leaders. Hawaii is the most dependent state in the nation on imported oil. Some 50 million barrels are imported here annually, nearly 80% of which originate from foreign sources. In addition, over 805,000 tons of coal are imported into our state. These sources provide power for over 92% of Hawaii's electricity generation. The combustion of these resources also contributes over 23 million tons of climate changing greenhouse gas into our atmosphere annually.
In order to compliment and commit to the development of clean, renewable energy sources, would you support committing the state to retirement schedule for the dirtiest, most polluting fossil fuel plants in the state?
Recognizing that automobiles in Hawaii consume roughly 15 million barrels of oil annually, I support a complete streets policy, and a requirement to allocate public resources for public transportation and the creation of bicycle/pedestrian friendly streets.
Governmental agencies spend millions of dollars annually on energy costs to cool and light their facilities and power their vehicles. I support aggressively requiring governmental agencies to adopt energy efficiency measures, invest in photovoltaic systems on public buildings, and purchase electric vehicles.
Recognizing new building structures can last for fifty years or more, I support aggressive building code standards that reduce energy and water consumption, and help consumers save money over the long term.
The prevailing development model throughout the state for the last 50 years has been suburban sprawl. This model has paved more than half our prime farmlands, compromised our ability to feed ourselves, made our freeways amongst the most congested in the nation, sparked tourist complaints that we are destroying the beauty of the ‘aina on which our biggest industry depends, impacted our water resources and made us overly reliant on imported food and fuel. It also creates "boom or bust" cycles, as recently noted by Governor Ariyoshi -- we doubled the size of the construction industry within one decade and now many of those workers are unemployed.
The failure to adequately support our agricultural community and plan for a better future threatens the availability of food and open space for generations to come. For example, we import over 80% of our food supply. And yet, we’re developing our best agricultural lands on a rapid basis: 3,300 acres of prime A and B land in just the last twenty years.
We’re at a cross-roads. Decisions made today will dictate whether Hawaii can be self-sufficient tomorrow in the event of calamity or ever increasing energy/transportation costs in the future.
I support efforts to shift future growth back to traditional urban cores, by enforcing land use designations and by opposing all future reclassifications of large properties in excess of 20 acres from "agricultural" to "urban" until Hawaii is growing 20% of the food we consume each year.
By many accounts, Hawaii has a 10-day supply of food in the event of crisis. I support developing a program that leases land (whether it be state, county, or private land) at substantially reduced rates for farmers that pledge to grow and sell food locally, and encourages schools to purchase locally-grown food.
The development of “fake farm” residential subdivisions on agricultural land has unwittingly contributed to rural sprawl, and rampant speculation on land values. I support legislation to prevent the development of residential housing on this type of land that is not directly related to farming by restricting the size of any residential dwelling to 1500 square feet.
In order to ensure agricultural land is available for food production, I support limiting biofuel crops to those that are demonstrated to be noninvasive and sustainable over time, and confirmed to reduce carbon dioxide production.
Fish farms in the ocean risk spreading disease to wild fish; polluting the ocean with chemicals, uneaten food, and fish feces; and affecting the genetics of wild fish when caged fish escape. I support efforts to instead place tanks on land, where “waste” becomes fertilizer and pollution is minimized.
Safe and Healthy Communities -
Our communities can and should be safe and healthy places to live in and raise children--with clean air and water, and freedom from the dangers of toxic pollution.
Many decisions regarding the use and protection of Hawaii’s natural resources occur at State Boards or Commissions. I support the appointment of individuals with knowledge and backgrounds in resource protection to provide balance to these decision-making bodies.
Many believe that residents have the right to know what foods in Hawaii contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). I support legislation to label GMO products in Hawaii, and to provide residents the right to choose.
Do you support measures to improve the safe handling and controlled use of fungicides, pesticides, and herbicides such as reducing the use of these items near schools and hospitals?
Protecting Hawaii's Fragile Environment
Our State Constitution requires “For the benefit of present and future generations, the State and its political subdivisions shall conserve and protect Hawaii's natural beauty and all natural resources, including land, water, air, minerals and energy sources, and shall promote the development and utilization of these resources in a manner consistent with their conservation and in furtherance of the self-sufficiency of the State. All public natural resources are held in trust by the State of Hawai`i for the benefit of the people."
In Hawaii, the environment is the economy. While we enjoy the "interest" that our natural capital provides, we devote a very small percentage of the State's budget to actually preserving that "capital". As has been popularly approved in California, I support a surcharge on vehicle registrations to fund environmental departments such as the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
LINK: Sierra Club Election Survey Website
LINK: Sierra Club Election Survey PDF