In advance of the official start of the environmental Court on July 1, there will be a daylong symposium at the UH Law School in late June to bring lawyers and judges up-to-date on the law.
There will be speakers from India, which has a strong Environmental Court system.
As background, last year the legislature passed a bill—championed by The Outdoor Circle and its partners—that seeks to improve the efficiency of Hawaii’s court system and encourage more effective enforcement of existing environmental statutes.
The Environmental Court will hear cases related to certain public health and environmental laws on single court dockets or calendar. In each jurisdiction, these cases will be heard at the same time, by the same judge, instead of intermingled with other felony and misdemeanor cases.
“This strong move towards improved environmental protections indicates that our leaders value the important role that our unique environment plays in our economic stability,” said Alexandra Avery, president of the Outdoor Circle. She added, “Environmental Courts have been successful in other communities where a sensitive environment is key to the wealth and health of its residents.
While Hawaii is well known for its natural environment, state enforcement of environmental laws has been uneven. Chronic illegal dumping, improper harvesting of natural resources and contamination of streams and near-shore waters are common experiences in the Hawaiian islands. Establishment of the Environmental Court signals Hawaii’s renewed commitment and focus on protecting the environment.
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.