Mahalo to all who attended our December 11, 2010, General Caucus meeting

Aloha Members of the Environmental Caucus of Hawai’i,

First Mahalo to all members who took time to attend our December 11, 2010, extended General Caucus meeting.  We had an excellent showing, and despite a few hiccups, we were able to accomplish everything we set out in our agenda. Special thanks to the Steering Committee and Subcommittee chairs for all their hard work, both during the meeting and for their hours of preparation before the meeting.

Second, much Aloha and mounds of Mahalo must go to our guest speakers for giving up their Saturday morning in order to inform us on many of the environmental issues vital to our state.

  • Glenn Martinez, President of the Hawaii Farmers Union
  • Sabry Shehata, Professor of Agribusiness at the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management at the  University of Hawai’i in Hilo
  • Jeff Mikulina from Blue Planet
  • Ronald J. Cannarella, from DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Management

I would also like to pass on a few exceptionally informative links that our speakers recommended. If we want to advocate successfully, we must be and sound informed. These sites will help provide you with the information you need:

Finally, Mahalo to all neighbor island members who were not able to attend physically, but who took the time to cast their votes through our e-mail process.

Now for the main event.
What were the top priorities passed at yesterday’s General Caucus meeting for our 2011 legislative agenda and advocacy?

We selected three issues from the Natural Resources Subcommittee’s recommendations. They were:

  1. Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail Project to PROTECT The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail AND PRESERVE THE COASTLINE FROM UPOLU POINT TO Hawaii Volcanoes National Park ON THE ISLAND OF HAWAI’I BY REQUESTING A 2,000 FOOT CONSERVATION EASEMENT COASTLINE SETBACK ON ALL STATE OWNED LANDS. see http:// environmentalcaucusofthedemocraticpartyofhawaii.wordpress.com/subcommittees/natural- resource-management/ for details.
  2. Ban the use of plastic bags and styrofoam food containers in Hawaii. The environmental community has been trying to get this legislation enacted for at least a decade. The bills are ready to go, and if we finally want to see it passed, we will need a lot of public support and your advocacy. In other words, call your Representatives, write your Senators, stay informed, keep in touch, get your friends involved, and be ready to testify in person or online if you can.
  3. Improve quarantine inspection system that will minimize the introduction of alien pests, including joint federal-state inspection facilities at the ports of entry like Honolulu International Airport and Honolulu Harbor. We will be planning  how to proceed with this particular priority at our next steering committee meeting on December 29. We will need to decide if this legislation should be in the form of a resolution or a bill, and how the legislation should be worded.

Anyone who wishes to be involved in advocating for this legislation should e-mail their interest to Subcommittee Chair Bill Sager at bsager42@gmail.com.

We selected three issues from the Energy and Climate Subcommittee’s recommendations. They were:

  1. Legislation to provide funding and development for smart grid renewable energy in support of Resolution Env 2010-07. Develop infrastructure for utilities to utilize and support the distribution of solar energy; allow clean energy producers to sell directly to end-users. Create competitive utility entities to compete with private owned utilities and create cooperatives. Support local small business enterprises to ensure the future of alternative energies are not monopolized by big corporate entities alone. (Murdoch’s wind farms, solar distributors, electric cars) Apply for grants from the Federal Government in this sector.
  2. Reduce automobile use for short trips by developing specific procedures for HSDOT implementing Complete Streets legislation [HRS 264-20.5; Act 54 of Legislative Session 2009], making pedestrian and bicycle travel integral transportation modes within public rights of way.
  3. Clean Energy Investment from Barrel Tax (HB 2421). These measures tap the source of our problem–imported oil–to help fund our solutions: planning and implementing energy efficiency and our clean energy future.

Anyone who wishes to be involved in advocating for this legislation should e-mail their recommendations to Subcommittee Chair Lisa Rey at hinanorey@gmail.com

We selected three issues from the Food Security and Sustainability Subcommittee’s interest. They were:

  1. Create legislation mandating gardens and garden/agricultural instruction in every Hawaiian School.
  2. Develop a resolution to investigate Hawaii’s DLNR and Department of Agriculture’s current restrictive policy for State Ag leases and how that policy affects food sustainability.
  3. Create a resolution to study and propose an Agribusiness Cooperative Program to empower small local farms to jointly distribute to large institutional users and retail establishments in Hawai’i, including the feasibility of developing local feed mills to lower farm costs and the carbon footprint of current feed import.

Anyone who wishes to be involved in advocating for this legislation should e-mail their interest to Subcommittee Chair Juanita Kawamoto at farmfreshhawaii@yahoo.com

So there they are; the top nine priority items that our Caucus will work to bring into law over the 2011 session. We will of course keep an eye on other environmental legislation, and try to keep you informed about that as well. We encourage individuals to advocate on any proposals they feel important. However, the Caucus as a whole has chosen these nine items to focus its attention upon, and we look forward to working with all of you as we work towards these shared goals.

Mahalo again to everyone who took part.

Sincerely,

Lynn Marie Sager
Vice Chair
Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawai’i

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