Vicky Cayetano: Addressing climate, energy changes with cost in mind Leave a Comment / Uncategorized / By admin Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Rain bombs, sea level rise, massive brush fires, coral bleaching. In the last decade, Hawaii has experienced an increase in these threats to our island chain. The cause is climate change. If we do not make efforts to invest in the management of climate change, the effects on our environment will create even more suffering. And most concerning is that the communities that are affected the most are those who are struggling to make ends meet. One of the greatest challenges that our island state faces is the increase of coastal erosion and inland flooding — chronic flooding over the years — and nothing has been done to relocate and strengthen the shoreline infrastructure. The frequency of floods has spiked especially on Oahu in Waikiki, Kailua and Mapunapuna, to name a few. Our drainage systems are overwhelmed and cause damage to roads and buildings. More flooding is inevitable and many of our coastal structures are at risk due to sea level rise. As governor, I will take the following actions: Act on the many studies that have been done. Let’s take the reports of the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission and put its recommendations into action with a planned timeline. Last year, the Hawaii Department of Transportation Highways Division released its Highways Climate Adaptation Action Plan — as governor, I commit to moving the considerations beyond the planning stage and into the action stage. Work with the counties. We need to produce coordinated plans that result in timely action to shore up our infrastructure and lessen the impact on our island lifestyle from climate change. In the process, we will set an example of how to be good stewards of our natural resources. Restructure DLNR staffing and fill vacancies. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has had staff shortages for too long and, as a result, the management of our natural environment has suffered. It is time we reorganize and align positions to properly meet the need in the 21st century. I would increase support specifically for DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources, which is charged with reaching a goal of 30% of statewide marine areas managed by 2030. Seek federal and private-sector funding. I would have a designated position specifically to secure grants-in-aid to manage sea level rise and shoreline erosion, and all other climate change initiatives. Prioritize the critical maintenance of dams and reservoirs. This is a historic abdication of responsibility by landowners that now lands squarely in the state’s lap to mitigate. We must implement a system for the protection of our needs today and to avert expensive disasters in the future. It is imperative to not only manage what is before you now, but to anticipate what science tells us. While we are a recognized leader for setting ambitious goals for climate change and our renewable energy goals, putting resources behind these goals is a priority. Our internationally recognized expertise in our own backyard at the University of Hawaii could and can be tapped to help in this effort. As governor, I will meet with the state Public Utilities Commission and Hawaiian Electric to have the difficult and necessary conversation about performance-based regulation implemented a year ago. We must agree on what is realistic in determining a percentage of firm energy. At the heart of this discussion is the toll it is taking on our residents. I am quite concerned that as utility costs rise, we are hurting small businesses and low-income communities. As governor I will: >> Initiate a hard exploration of geothermal potential in the state, with the exception of Kauai. >> Harmonize land use policies with energy policies. One hundred percent renewable energy requires land development. Current land use policies must be revisited. For Hawaii’s economic stability, electrification — of our cars, our buildings and our power grid — is the only path toward achieving net zero carbon emissions. This requires not only transforming our grid, but also our buildings and vehicles. When we tap our intellectual capital and work together, there is nothing we cannot achieve. Vicky Cayetano founded and was president of United Laundry Services; she also is a former first lady of Hawaii.