Saturday, April 14, 2012
Sierra Club list of environmentally dangerous bills
by Larry Geller
Objections to the wholesale attacks on Hawaii’s environmental protections by state legislature committees are bouncing around the web. Some of the bills cited appear to be unnecessary, others are very bad public policy.
Particularly evil and egregious in my book is SB755, which testimony at the House Finance Committee hearing demonstrated was unnecessary. No projects are currently being held up or delayed that would benefit from this legislation. In other words, there is no positive economic impact.
It also seems bizarre to me that a finance committee would ignore the lack of economic benefit and at the same time fail to make even the slightest attempt at tallying up the potential cost to environmental sustainability. This is probably because they consider environmental costs to be intangible. That is no excuse, especially since they also did not tally up the economic benefits that passage of SB755 would bring. That would be difficult to do, in view of testimony that there are no economic benefits.
The Sierra Club has posted a list of objectionable bills with their arguments against them: Objecting to Eliminating Environmental Checks and Balances (Sierra Club Capitol Watch, 4/13/2012). I’m going to snip just the bill numbers here. Please click over to their article for their summary of the problems with each bill.
Then consider calling or emailing your legislative representatives if you’re concerned about the damage they may do if these bills become law.
Exempting State Projects from Environmental Laws (SB 755)
The Sierra Club article notes about this bill that:
This bill is not about streamlining the process, but rather it exempts the state from having to comply with Hawaii's laws. Years ago, this legislature concluded that “the quality of the environment is as important to the welfare of the people of Hawaii as is the economy of the State.” What’s changed?
Reducing the Solar Tax Credit (SB 2288)
Vacation Rentals on Agricultural Land (SB 2341)
Automatically Approving and Exempting TOD from Zoning and Other Smart Growth Protections (SB 2927)
TOD is “Transit Oriented Development” which I like to call “Developer Oriented Transit” instead. It’s clear who benefits the most, and this bill demonstrates that developers’ interests trump the public interest. Don’t let it pass.
Environmental Regulations Regarding Several State Bridges (SB 3010)
Different organizations may have different lists of objectionable bills. Check the Sierra Club website at the link above for their discussion of these.