Protecting Hawaii's Unique Environment

An Open Letter In Defense of Hawaii’s Environment & Open Government to Hawaii State House of Representatives, State Senate, & Governor Neil Abercrombie:

We vehemently protest certain undemocratic measures taken by the State House of Representatives, Hawaii State Senate, and Governor Abercrombie to dilute basic sunshine and due process laws that protect the public. Our island canoe is heading in the wrong direction.

Certain legislators have introduced measures which severely shut out the public and due process. These actions disfranchise citizens, corrupt public policies, and undermine democracy. This is not pono.

Numerous evolving bills, including SB 2927 SD 2, SB2873, SB2012 and HB2154 HD2, will exempt state and county government actions and development from Hawaii’s laws which protect and preserve our unique island home through careful analysis, including social, economic, cultural, historical, coastal, marine, and other environmental impacts. This removal of these checks and balances will cause injustice and create undue burden at various levels, including our economic prosperity, quality of life, sense of place, and long-term sustainability.

Certain legislators’ eagerness to circumvent or skirt legal requisites in order to fast-track development projects, without first considering inevitable impacts on the overall environment and public participation, show an alarming lack of understanding in core democratic principles. No entity should be above or exempted from the laws that protect us all.

While some legislators are hasty to deny due process and participation to the public, they are careful “to provide indemnity for any county, its officials, or employees for actions taken regarding “exceptional planning projects”. This action is wrong; public servants will be accountable to no one.

We unequivocally protest these anti-public legislative attempts to subvert open government. We call upon each legislator to show civic courage – to independently review, boldly vote, and truly enact the people’s business within the core democratic tenets contained in the Hawaii Revised Statutes 343 (Environmental Review), Hawaii Sunshine Law (HRS 92), Coastal Zone Management 205A (SMA), and county zoning and planning.

The line of demarcation must be clear - the People’s right to know and the right to equitably participate in public policies with legislative decision-makers in a fair and open process are not negotiable.

Growing concurrence of this Open Letter include Hawaii's Thousand Friends, The Sierra Club, The Outdoor Circle, Keep the Country Country, Defend Oahu Coalition, Save Sunset Beach Coalition, Save O’ahu Farmlands Alliance, Hawaii SEED, Friends of Makakilo, Country Talk Story, Livable Hawaii Kai Hui. Concerned citizens can add their mana'o at this new petition site.

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