Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate David Ige Shares Green Initiatives;
Calls for Action on Energy, Agriculture, Environment
Honolulu, HI (June 7, 2014) — At a press conference this morning in Kewalo Basin Park, State Senator David Ige shared plans to accelerate clean energy initiatives, protect the environment, and grow more food if elected governor. “Much has been promised on these issues, but where are real results?” Ige noted.
“As governor, I will take immediate action to the legislatively-established, Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative target of 70% clean energy by 2030, 30% from increased efficiency and 40% from renewable resources, while reducing costs to all Hawaii residents, and will work with each community to develop their energy self-sufficiency plans,” said Ige.
Ige also questioned the governor’s indecisiveness in appointing or re-appointing the chair of the Public Utility Commission stating, “When this is such a critical position and decision-making body for the people of Hawaii, as governor, I would not delay making a decision until after the election."
“As governor, I will preserve prime farmland and up the local share of food consumption from 10% to 20% by 2020,” Ige said. “I support agricultural diversification that puts land into crops, produce, livestock and bio-fuel.” Ige pushed legislation providing $750,000 loans to farmers growing food locally; designated $5.5 million for DLNR’s watershed protection initiative; and provided DLNR $26 million for irrigation systems, rivers and dams, including $1.1 million for the Hanalei River breach.
“Why do we import 90% of our food?” Ige asked. The governor promised an ‘Agricultural Renaissance’ with local farm products and protected green space. Yet he turned 2,130 acres of Oahu’s prime agriculture land—20% of the island’s irrigated farmland total—into an urban development. He also failed to halt the decline in the local farmer population aged 25 to 54, down 24% since 2007.
Ige stressed, “We must do better at stopping invasive species.” Using barrel tax funds the legislature provided in 2011, agricultural inspection at air/sea ports of entry should have prevented this disaster. Though the “New Day” plan promised to reduce invasive species numbers, Hawaii has instead suffered from an abnormally high rate of invasive species introductions: the coconut rhinoceros beetle, dart frog, an array of snakes, and, worst of all on Oahu, a coqui frog and little fire ant invasion.
“To protect residents’ health, I will advocate for GMO product labeling at the federal level and enforce restricted-use pesticides laws,” Ige said, adding he will review the recent Vermont GMO labeling decision as a possible solution to address Hawaii’s needs, including protecting local businesses from increasing costs of doing business.
“If I had been governor when the pesticide issue first emerged, I would have immediately dispatched agriculture inspectors to Kauai, not forced the county to manage the crisis alone. I believe strongly that the state must work with the counties as strong partners in this and all other efforts to preserve the land and natural resources of our island state.”
Ige emphasized Hawaii must proactively protect the overall environment. “As Hawaii’s next governor, I will establish dedicated funding to protect Hawaii’s watershed to ensure a ready supply of drinking water,” Ige said. “We also need to protect our coastlands and sandy beaches against rising sea levels, preserving our state’s natural resources for our children and their children to enjoy.”
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