With the adjournment of the 2022 legislature, the Hawaii State Legislature passed 12 environmental and energy bills that collectively address climate change.
The passed bills promote energy efficiency, economy-wide decarbonization, a continued push to accelerate the clean energy transition and measures to reduce the energy burden of low- and middle-income families, according to a press release from the state legislature.
“The laws we passed this year will help reduce Hawaii’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions; save tax money; supporting local, green jobs; and protect the future of our planet,” said Rep. Nicole Lowen (District 6), Chair of the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee.
The committee also approved several measures this year to support sustainable land management, regenerative agricultural practices and encourage composting. These bills will reduce emissions associated with agriculture; help farmers financially; and reduce waste.
“Using regenerative farming methods and compost creates healthy soils that are better at retaining soil carbon while diverting organic waste from landfills,” said committee vice chair Lisa Marten (District 51).
Another bill passed this session provides for a cesspool conversion grant program aimed at cesspools in priority areas owned by households earning 140% or less of the area’s median income.
The bill’s author, Rep. Lisa Kitagawa (District 48), vice chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee, said the grant will provide financial assistance to local families who need to remodel their cesspools by 2050.
Other bills passed by the committee this year include a law to phase out forever the use of toxic chemicals in food packaging, which will help keep those toxins out of the body and the environment, and a law to update and improve the state electronics waste Program. Passing the e-waste law will help Hawaii counties offer more frequent e-waste collection events and significantly reduce the amount of electronics going to landfills.
Finance Representative Sylvia Luke (District 25) worked to secure funding for these bills. She said key environmental initiatives were prioritized in preparing the state budget this year, including $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 bills submitted for review by Governor David Ige include:
- House bill 1801 – Energy efficiency of state institutions: Buildings account for more than two-thirds of all electricity consumption in Hawaii. HB 1801 directs governments to lead by example in implementing energy efficiency measures that save energy, save money and create clean energy jobs. This bill also requires that data on government buildings’ energy use 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 possible and cost-effective.
- House bill 1800 – Decarbonization study paths and targets for 2030: This bill sets interim greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030 of 50% compared to 2005 levels, in line with the Paris Agreement. This bill also funds a comprehensive study to determine Hawaii’s pathways to decarbonizing the Hawaiian economy to meet the state’s 2030 and 2045 goals and to identify challenges, opportunities and actions needed to meet those goals . The study will also consider transportation, aviation, land use planning, agriculture, human resource development and mitigating any impacts on low-income, environmental justice and frontline communities.
- House bill 2089 – Default loophole for renewable portfolios: This bill fills a long-standing loophole in the formula used to calculate electric utility progress on renewable energy. Closing this loophole means Hawaii’s true progress toward 100% renewable energy is more accurately captured.
- Simultaneous Senate Resolution 242 – LIHEAP: Convenes a task force to study how best to implement a state-level energy assistance program for low-income households (LIHEAP) in Hawaii.
- Simultaneous resolution of the Senate 48 – Energy equity and justice: Directs the Public Utilities Commission and Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to incorporate energy equity and equity considerations into their work.
- Senate Act 3325 – Carbon Smart Land Management Assistance Program: Creates the Carbon Smart Land Management Assistance Program to incentivize farmers and foresters to manage their lands in a way that helps capture carbon emissions.
- Senate Bill 3004 – Compost reimbursement program: Incentives for farmers and landscapers to use compost, supports regenerative agriculture and helps strengthen the market for compost.
- House bill 1992 – Approval for composting: Removes zoning barriers and provides assistance in navigating the permitting process for medium and large scale composting.
- House bill 2195 – Septic tank compliance grant program: Establishes a grant program for low- and middle-income homeowners or DHHL tenants to help with the cost of remodeling sumps on properties that are near shorelines or other water sources.
- House bill 1644 – PFAS chemicals: End the use of toxic chemicals, which have been shown to have numerous harmful effects on human health, in certain types of food packaging and fire-fighting foam.
- House bill 1640 – e-waste: Updates and improves the state’s e-waste recycling program. This bill will provide counties with more funding to expand e-waste collection events, increase recycling goals for manufacturers and collectors, and expand the types of electronic equipment to be collected.
- Senate bill 2998 – Audits of the deposit beverage container collection point: Requires Department of Health to conduct risk-based audits of deposit beverage container redemption centers to reduce fraud and improve program.