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The 2012 Legislative session has turned into a slugfest pitting lawmakers who want to water down or even eliminate environmental review for many types of construction projects against people and organizations who believe the laws protect Hawaii’s most precious assets.
Most of the proposals are promoted as being necessary to streamline the approval processes for construction projects and thereby move construction projects forward and stimulate the economy. Opponents argue that it is possible to streamline the approval processes without eliminating the laws that prevent the degradation of Hawaii’s natural resources and sensitive coastal environment.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that special interests have persuaded certain lawmakers that the best time to roll back the laws that protect our fragile environment is when the economy is down,” said TOC Director of Environmental Programs Bob Loy. “We believe that if these important laws are suspended or eliminated more than 30 years of thoughtful environmental protection will go down the drain—benefiting a few at the expense of many.”
The assault on Hawaii’s environment has encouraged the state’s environmental community to come together as never before to present a solid front of opposition. TOC along with such groups as the Sierra Club, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, Life of the Land and the Surfrider Foundation, along with scores of concerned Hawai‘i citizens, have been packing hearing rooms and delivering forceful testimony. The message—these proposals eliminate the balance necessary to maintain a clean environment while allowing beneficial projects to be approved.
The July issue of Greenleaf will include an assessment of which laws passed and how they might impact our islands. Sign up here to get your copy of the Greenleaf.