Ring the bell!!! The Environmental Court is headed to conference committee. Woot, woot! This is the farthest this bill has ever gotten in the legislative process.
Mahalo to the members of the Senate and House Committees on the Environment and Judiciary and the House Finance Committee for shuttling this bill through the legislative process in an efficient and transparent way. We are so close to passing this bill.
But there is still much to do to ensure this bill gets to the Governor's desk. Some business trade groups strongly oppose the bill on the misguided theory that establishing an Environmental Court would be bad for business. Quite the opposite!
Establishing this court will help to further ensure that those businesses who pride themselves on environmentally-friendly operations are competing on a fair playing field against those businesses that have, up till now, simply incorporated harm to the environment as a cost of doing business.
This bill is important because it will establish a fairer and more efficient process for adjudicating violations of the protections established for our forests, oceans, wildlife, and public health. For all of the illegal dumpsites and abandoned vehicles, all of the fishing and hunting violations, for all the spills into our oceans and streams: the environment deserves its day in court.
The environmental court would function much like drug court, where cases concerning laws to protect our environment will be heard together on one docket by a judge focused on this area of law. With this focus comes more consistent outcomes. And with more consistent decisions comes more consistent enforcement and compliance. Residents, visitors, and businesses will know that Hawaii’s environmental protections are not just talk, but are truly and regularly enforced.
Now is the time to make sure all of our elected officials in the State Capitol understand the importance of this bill. Please take a moment to contact the Representatives and Senators in your area. Here is a link to a list of all Hawaii's state elected officials and their contact information. When you visit this link, input your zip code in the upper right-hand corner to find out which elected officials represent you.
The Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.