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Numerous federal and state judicial decisions have established that environmental impact statements under the National Environmental Policy Act and its state equivalents should examine the impact of proposed projects on emissions of greenhouse gases. Administrative agencies and court settlements are now establishing the guidelines for the conduct of these examinations. This column surveys the emergence of these new guidelines, which is occurring against a backdrop of accelerated activity in both Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leading towards federal regulation of GHGs. The column looks at these guidelines on the federal level as well as within New York, California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Hawaii.
Hawaii became the first state to pass a law committing to the goals and limits of the Paris Climate Accord. The state’s governor, David Y. Ige, signed a bill explicitly geared toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the landmark goals adopted by world leaders with the Paris Agreement in 2015.
This report compares estimates of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Hawaii under current conditions versus VMT when policies are implemented to manage travel demand. These policies include transportation demand management (employer-based programs that encourage employees to carpool, use transit, walk, or bike), parking reform, road or mileage pricing (i.e. increased taxes on gasoline, congestion charges in urban areas), improved access to walking and biking facilities, zoning policies that encourage denser, mixed-use development in suburban areas, and more. Under current conditions, VMT is expected to rise 16.6% above current levels by 2045; upon policy implementation, VMT could be reduced by 7.3 percent below current levels by 2045.
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has issued a decision and order adopting a comprehensive framework of utility regulations to align Hawaii electric companies’ financial interests with Hawaii’s clean energy goals and customer needs. The performance-based framework adopted by the Commission will focus utilities on performance and alignment with public policy goals, as opposed to growth in capital investments or other traditional determinants of utility earnings. Utility revenues will be based on a combination of annual revenue adjustments, designed to implement cost control and savings for customers, with the opportunity to earn additional performance revenues for delivering performance towards achieving key regulatory objectives. Performance incentive mechanisms include rewarding the utility for supporting low-income customers, promoting grid investment efficiency, and accelerating renewable portfolio standards.
The state of Hawaii is in need of a comprehensive approach to helping Hawai'i families and supporting Hawai'i farmers during the time of COVID-19. This report proposes that through the CARES Act funding, Hawaii should spend $40 million on immediate needs between now and the end of 2020 that will set the stage for future food system resilience efforts in years to come. The report details out different types of food assistance programs, the amount needed for these, and what the food assistance programs would provide.
Currently in Hawaii, thousands of seniors struggle just to put food on their table. The issue of senior hunger is complex, and is often a symptom of deeper flaws in the structure of the economy, society, and food systems themselves. This report presents an overview of the tools- many of them federal safety net programs- that are available to alleviate the problem in Hawaii. The report then examines each of the safety net tools with special attention to how they can be used to support both nutrition and food systems for Hawaii's senior citizens.
Building a stronger Hawai'i for businesses and residents means creating more opportunities for working families to climb the economic ladder. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a proven tool for fostering economic prosperity. The federal EITC is a tax credit that reduces or eliminates workers' tax liability. This policy report proposes that Hawai'i creates a state refundable Earned Income Tax Credit that will work to put money back into the community and thus strengthen local economies. The authors point to three main benefits of a refundable EITC: to help struggling families, local businesses, and working families. The report concludes with a list of possible new revenue sources which would allow Hawai'i to afford a state EITC.
Hawaii's lower-income families are faced with almost insurmountable structural challenges to escaping poverty. They face the highest cost of living and highest cost of shelter in the nation. At the same time, Hawaii's wages are the lowest in the nation when adjusted for the cost of living, and people in poverty pay more in taxes than residents in all but three states. This report is aimed at identifying new policies that can make real differences in the lives of individuals and families struggling to make ends meet. The report recommends that during its 2014 session, Hawaii's legislature adopt a package of five policies that will significantly increase the economic vitality of their low and moderate-income residents.
Accessory dwelling units (ADU) are an important tool in expanding affordable housing stock, especially in areas with limited room for growth and high housing costs. This policy brief describes ADUs and their benefits and provides examples of successful ADU policies from around the country. This brief concludes with initial proposals for policies, initiatives, and reforms that would balance the needs and concerns of communities while allowing and facilitating ADU creation.
Hawaii has not only the highest cost of living in the country, but also the ninth highest rate of poverty, the second highest rate of homelessness, and the fourth heaviest tax burden on the poor. However, two major federal antipoverty programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), can help mitigate the financial struggles of these families. This report examines the severe underutilization of these two federally-funded programs in Hawaii and recommends new opportunities to build upon current outreach efforts and significantly increase participation in Hawaii. Key recommendations in this report include a more thorough assessment of community-level participation rates and service needs; expanding, refining, and developing outreach campaigns using targeted approaches to reach underserved groups; expanding coalitions and partnerships to reach those outside of formal social services systems and ensure that SNAP and EITC are made a standard part of client services; and expanding systemic access by easing the SNAP application process and recruiting additional Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites.