Is Hawaii Afraid to Regulate Emissions of Greenhouse Gases?

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

HECO power plant in Waiau.

Nearly two months ago, new rules that would curb the state's greenhouse gas emissions landed on Gov. Neil Abercrombie's desk for his signature.

The rules are still waiting on the Democratic governor.

And so are environmentalists, who worry that Abercrombie's slowness to pick up his pen might be the result of pressure from influential companies that would be affected by the legislation. They're also concerned about two bills introduced last month by state lawmakers that could, they argue, help gut Hawaii’s greenhouse gas law.

“Obviously what is going on here is that some people are unhappy with the way the rules were written, or rather they are unhappy with the greenhouse gas rules, period,” said Jeff Mikulina, executive director of Blue Planet Foundation, a clean energy advocacy organization in Honolulu.

"I think what we are seeing is an attempt to undermine our historic greenhouse gas law or make it toothless."

The air pollution control rules that await the governor’s signature would give teeth to Hawaii’s 2007 law on greenhouse gases, known as Act 234, which requires the state to reduce emissions in the air to 1990 levels by the end of this decade. The rules provide a road map for reducing emissions at facilities throughout the state and specify that power plants and refineries must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 16 percent or face specific penalties if they don't comply.

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