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Honolulu council passes “environmental justice” bill package

The City Council passed three bills yesterday aimed at curbing illegal dumping and other environmentally degrading practices.

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Yesterday, the Honolulu City Council unanimously passed Bills 35, 36 and 37, more commonly referred to as the “Environmental Justice Bills.” With the support of farmers throughout O‘ahu, the Concerned Elders of Wai‘anae, the KAHEA Environmental Alliance and the leeward neighborhood boards, the bills are aimed at curbing illegal dumping and other environmentally harmful practices such as stockpiling waste. The bills are supposed to improve reporting and relationships between residents, farmers and City inspectors that regulate dumping and stockpiling.

While illegal dumping certainly occurs in urban Honolulu, the dumping occurring in leeward communities is particularly egregious and environmentally degrading. Leeward councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine (District 1) said, “In the more than 20 months since I was sworn into office to represent our district, I have enjoyed being actively involved to join our community’s effort to stop illegal dumping in our communities and throughout Oahu. In that time, we engaged our members of the community to watch their neighborhoods, report potential illegal dumping, and send in testimony encouraging my fellow Councilmembers to support the Environmental Justice bills.”

The final versions of the bills enhance the penalties for illegal dumping by 500 percent, create a new class of penalties for repeat offenders that would effectively raise fines by 1000 percent, provide the City with the power to refuse to issue after-the-fact permits for violators and to order violators to restore the land to its original condition, and for the most egregious violations (those occurring at the same place by the same violator in a five-year period), the bills provide the City with the power to refer the violation to the City Prosecutor for criminal prosecution.

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