Hawaii’s revenue is primarily based on tourism, which is primarily driven by our precious natural and cultural resources which require and demand our protection and preservation. We need an overhaul of our economic system that takes the environment into account as one of our most valuable and irreplaceable resources. Many are working on addressing these issues and I think it will take a multi-pronged approach to figure out an economy based on ecology and shift to green and sustainable practices across all of our industries, but that shift is necessary. I believe our most pressing issue is that we absolutely need to shift away from single-use/importation consumerism and create a Hawai’i that is self-sustaining and able to grow/produce 80-90% of our food here. I will be focusing on legislation and education initiatives that focus on supporting food sustainability- local, small-scale sustainable agriculture and reducing our reliance on imported food and goods. Tied into this is reducing a reliance on imported fossil fuels, and I am focusing on alternative energy options and will be promoting and supporting viable plans for Hawai’i to generate our own energy.
To mitigate climate change I would strongly support all of the following: reforestation program (ideally with native trees), an air travel tax for the purposes of reforestation, Employee Retirement System divestment from top 100 fossil fuel companies, banning of new car sales that don’t meet stringent requirements for low emissions (with a caveat for affordability options for low income folks to be able to afford transportation), and increasing battery storage tax incentives.
I would strongly support legislation aimed at managing our coastal zones with proposals for greater setbacks for development along coastal areas. I support removal of illegal sea walls and prohibiting further sea wall construction, especially with options for the state or county to compensate owners who are being impacted by coastal erosion who agree to not build sea walls or remove illegal sea walls.
I would not be in favor of eliminating the LUC unless there was another even more stringent commission or board that members of the public could appeal to in regards to urbanization. I am all for streamlining and reducing bureaucratic waste, but never in regards to eliminating options for public input and response to community concerns in regard to development. The BLNR has not had a stellar record in the past when it comes to making decisions that benefit public interest, and preservation and protection of natural resources, so I believe more oversight, not less oversight is necessary in regards to their decision making. I would support legislation that requires BLNR to not dispose of public property, especially when doing so creates substantial adverse impacts on natural or cultural resources. I will always oppose efforts to water down or exempt projects in Conservation Districts from the criteria currently protecting them and would support any legislation strengthening current protections and adding to them.
I am in favor of increased funding for invasive species control and taking additional measures to prevent transmitting pests and plants by instituting greater screening protocols.
I would support funding for studies and ongoing monitoring of major streams to have sufficient data available when making decisions about our limited and precious water resources that impact all of our communities. I think it is reasonable for us to require diversions of streams to not exceed a reasonable percentage of natural flow. I believe that each permit that exists for water diversion should be looked at on a case-by-case basis and should be regularly reviewed to ensure there are no significant impacts to ecosystems or aquifers. I absolutely believe that if a water case goes to the courts the Legislature shouldn’t be able to over-rule except in the case of protecting the public trust doctrine, if somehow the courts seemed to be unable or unwilling to do so themselves.
I would be in favor of assessing a visitor fee, similar to New Zealand’s, to offset the environmental and social costs of tourism. We should have some limits on our annual tourism due to the carrying capacity of each island, and/or potentially a “rest” period of a month each year, similar to what France does in August. I am open to learning more about different ways of doing this that would be environmentally and economically sustainable. We need to use some of the $80 million spent by the Tourism Authority on marketing Hawai’i towards protecting our natural and cultural resources, as that is what makes Hawai’i so valuable in the first place.
I am proud of the advocacy work I’ve done at the County Council level to help support a single-use plastic bag ban, polystyrene ban, and round-up ban (even though it didn’t ultimately get signed into law). I really would like my approach to public policy to be FOR the good stuff rather than AGAINST all the bad stuff, but there’s a lot of bad stuff we need to fight against right now, and I’ve been grateful to participate to help get us some “wins” on some of those.