Press Release

Hawaii State Senator Dela Cruz introduces a suite of environmental policies

January 31, 2020

Region

West

NCEL Point of Contact

Taylor Anderson
Communications Manager

Contact

Press release provided by Senator Dela Cruz

Hawaii has been on the forefront of environmental protection and conservation, however
there is still more that can be done through conservation, best practices, and education.
Situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the state of Hawaii must be a leader in
addressing climate change, protecting its natural resources, and growing a sustainable
economy. Therefore, Senator Dela Cruz has introduced the following measures:

Senate Bill 2061, referred to as the “No Child Left Inside”, seeks to establish a grant
program to award financial aid to programs promoting outdoor education and recreation
programs. The goal of this bill would be to promote the importance of our environment and
build an appreciation of being outdoors among younger generations in order to generate a sense of responsibility for the environment.

In 2019, nearly 10 million visitors came to Hawaii. Hawaii’s natural resources, beaches,
parks, are severely impact due to erosion, invasive species, and other elements due to climate
change. The state needs to explore ways to sustain its natural resources and preserve
Hawaiian culture. Tourism has a role in protecting the state’s natural resources and
perpetuating Hawaii’s history.

Senate Bill 2286 would appropriate funds to establish a task force to develop sustainable
practices, including development and implementation of a trail fee pilot program and
requiring professional tour guide certification from persons in the tourism industry. The
intent is to ensure that those operating a commercial touring business understand sustainable tourism and implement best practices into their commercial uses.

Sea level rise and coastal erosion is threatening Hawaii’s beaches, visitor industry, and
infrastructure. As the state prepares plans to relocate infrastructure or a managed retreat,
practices implemented today can prevent and mitigate catastrophic events to coastal communities.

Senate Bill 2060 would update the state’s “Coastal Zone Management Plan” to improve
protection of our valuable ecosystems, including reefs, beaches and dunes. SB2060 would:

  • Clarify that mitigating coastal hazards, such as sea level rise, storm surges and high
    tide, is a key objective for our state;
  • Promote research of sea level rise and studies on how developments along our coast
    would impact our ocean and coastal resources;
  • Direct the state to coordinate and fund beach management and protection;
  • Prohibit developments in Special Management Areas unless there is no significant
    adverse environmental or ecological impact; and
  • Require applicants to show that their proposed land alterations would minimize
    impacts from sea level rise and cause minimum adverse effect to our beaches and
    coastal dunes.

Hawaii has set ambitious goals in renewable energy standards. The state can also lead by
offsetting its carbon emissions. One pathway in doing so is establishing a tree planting
program.

Senate Bill 2077 establishes a four-year tree planting program in Hawaii with the goal of
strengthening the tree canopy throughout the state.

Despite our best attempts, the state must prepare for an unfavorable future caused by climate change and rising sea-levels. Hawaii’s environment and natural beauty play a vital role in the state’s economy and it is imperative the state act in balancing economic growth and
protecting its natural resources.

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