April 20th, 2017
Blue Planet Foundation hosts Earth Day rally at State Capitol to bring voice of the future to lawmakers
Today, over 700 students and individuals came together at the State Capitol in a show of support for Hawaii’s renewable transportation future. The rally, organized by the Blue Planet Foundation, sought to persuade lawmakers to adopt HB 1580, a measure that sets a target date of 2045 for 100% renewable ground transportation.
“Generations tomorrow will inherit the results of our decisions today,” said Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director of the Blue Planet Foundation. “That’s why Blue Planet Foundation is working collaboratively to establish a target date for achieving 100% renewable ground transportation for Hawaii. This is a vision today’s youth want, and one that a healthy climate requires.”
Student advocates participated in a clean transportation scavenger hunt and delivered handwritten messages and drawings to legislators. Ranging from second grade to high school, students from 14 schools statewide created “postcards from the future” by illustrating the world they want to see in 2045 and writing messages thanking legislators for their leadership on clean transportation in 2017. (Student postcards can be viewed at blueplanetfoundation.org/postcards.)
A fourth grader from Leeward Oahu wrote to legislators: “Thank you for passing the 100% renewable transportation goal back in 2017. Because of that goal I look out my window and see self-driving cars (electric), flying bikes, and a hovering flying car that doesn’t need any charging or gas (because) it works by the heat of the sun.”
Legislators, students, and a spokesperson from the Hawaii Department of Transportation addressed the students at the clean energy rally.
“HDOT is committed to sustainability by helping the State reach its goal of 100 percent renewable energy goals,” said Ford Fuchigami, Director of the Hawaii Department of Transportation. “We are installing new lighting and solar photovoltaic panels at state airports that will save money, is better for the environment, and will cut electricity usage in half.”
He added: “We have established a sustainable transportation forum with more than 60 organizations to collaborate on solutions. Our diesel-powered vehicles are being transitioned to biodiesel. We have converted two Wikiwiki shuttles at Honolulu International Airport to biodiesel and are looking to convert them all if the trial period is successful. Sustainability is a driving factor behind much of the decision making that is delivering positive benefits to the State now and down the road when today’s youth become tomorrow’s leaders.
Today’s event featured a community fair with informational booths about clean transportation options from organizations like Pacific Biodiesel, Hawaii Bicycling League, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), Bikeshare Hawaii, Tesla, Toyota Hawaii, BMW of Honolulu, Tony Nissan, and others. Blue Planet Foundation provided legislators and community members free test drives of a number of electric vehicle models, in partnership with local auto dealerships.
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%. Major auto manufacturers globally have made commitments to phasing out gasoline-powered vehicles in favor of electric and hydrogen vehicles. Blue Planet Foundation believes setting a 100% renewable transportation target will send a market signal that Hawaii is ready for investment in modern transportation infrastructure.
“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 Mikulina.
“We can significantly lower the cost of living for local residents by giving them the option to drive electric vehicles which are already cheaper to drive than gas vehicles,” said Representative Chris Lee (D – Waimanalo, Lanikai), who introduced HB 1580. “The faster we can get electric charging stations and infrastructure in place that will allow people the choice to convert, the more money we will be able to save everyone in the long run.”
Blue Planet Foundation stressed that the rally was about the next generation—those who will ultimately help make the transition to 100% clean transportation.
One fifth grader wrote on a “postcard from the future” to legislators: “Thank you for passing (the) 100% renewable transportation bill way back in 2017. It is a much better place now. There is almost no air pollution! I’m 39 and I take my kids to (school) in my electric vehicle. Thank you!”
A fourth grade student wrote on another: “Your leadership proved to the world that Hawaii cares about our planet. Now in 2045, Hawaii doesn’t have to rely on imported fossil fuels!”
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