May 4th, 2017
State legislature adjourns without passing needed renewable energy bills
The Hawaii State Legislature adjourned their 2017 session today without advancing any significant clean energy legislation, frustrating renewable energy proponents and jeopardizing progress on Hawaii’s climate goals. Like last legislative session, most energy bills died early in the session, while those that remained were held up during the final hours of conference committee negotiations.
“We are profoundly disappointed that the legislature failed to act on common sense energy legislation,” said Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director at Blue Planet Foundation. “State leaders missed the opportunity to save residents money, reduce climate change pollution, and strengthen Hawaii’s clean energy leadership position.”
Bills that failed to pass included those that set a planning target for 100% renewable ground transportation, fix existing loopholes in clean energy law, modernize utility regulation, and increase energy savings in homes and businesses.
Blue Planet Foundation’s priority legislation, House Bill (HB) 1580, would have aligned Hawaii’s transportation planning with Hawaii’s existing 2045 goal for 100% clean energy. While Hawaii has made progress on renewable electricity, Hawaii is consuming more fossil fuel for transportation. According to state data, in 2016 Hawaii burned nearly 2% more gasoline and diesel in vehicles than the year before. Major auto manufacturers globally have made commitments to phasing out gasoline-powered vehicles in favor of electric and hydrogen vehicles.
“Setting a goal for our 100% renewable transportation future will align our planning, foster collaboration, and send a message that Hawaii is open for business for clean, modern, and affordable transportation,” said Richard Wallsgrove, Blue Planet Foundation’s Policy Director.
Blue Planet Foundation organized a rally with over 600 students at the State Capitol on April 20th, celebrating clean energy and asking legislators to pass legislation setting a 2045 target date for 100% renewable ground transportation. The organization also asked students statewide to write “postcards from the future” to current legislators and illustrate their vision of a clean transportation future. Those postcards were then compiled into a book and shared with legislators. (Student postcards can be seen at blueplanetfoundation.org/postcards-from-the-future)
In the past year (March 2016 – March 2017), statewide registrations of electric vehicles increased 29%, while registrations of gas and diesel-fueled vehicles decreased about 0.5%.
The fossil fuel industry and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers were vocal opponents to the clean transportation measure.
“Those concerned about our climate crisis should be alarmed that lawmakers are letting mainland fossil fuel interests steer our energy policy,” added Wallsgrove. “With the current political environment in Washington, D.C., it is crucial that states act on climate and clean energy solutions.”
In April this year, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide reading in excess of 410 parts per million. The concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide has skyrocketed in recent years, accelerating dangerous climate change.
Blue Planet Foundation believes that Hawaii can be a global leader in demonstrating clean energy solutions—but that leadership requires action.
“The legislature’s inaction has cost us two years of progress on needed energy policy,” said Mikulina. “Hawaii will be losing ground—quite literally—if we fail to move quickly on climate solutions.”
Energy Bills That Failed to Pass
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