One year after the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the Local checks in with Hawaii Senator William Espero to get an update on Hawaii’s advances toward its commtiment to the environment and Senator’s Espero’s goals for Hawaii as he enters the race for Lt. Governor.
MARK ARMFIELD: It’s been a year since we connected at IUCN, what advances has Hawaii made on their environmental commitments?
SENATOR WILLIAM ESPERO: SB559 — Hawaii is the first state in the nation to commit to the goals and objectives of the Paris Accords. We will take the lead if our federal government does not.
MA: How is the progress on the oxybenzone ban?
WE: We have formed a Reef and Ocean Coalition which includes environmental groups, academia, and lawmakers. The oxybenzone ban is high on our priority list to pass next session in 2018. We have been in touch with Dr. Downs and gathering studies, research, and work to help our cause next year.
MA: What are some of the big issues you are tackling right now?
WE: Besides the oxybenzone ban, I am working on more funding to create moorings for anchors to protect our reefs. I am also looking at more funding to better mark our harbor entrances to protect our reefs.
“Hawaii is the first state in the nation to commit to the goals and objectives of the Paris Accord. We will take the lead if our federal government does not.” – Senator William Espero
MA: We heard you are running for Lt. Governor, congratulations! Can you tell us more about your campaign?
WE: After 26 years in state and county government, I would like to contribute at a different level, the executive branch. I believe my years of experience and my record of accomplishments have prepared me for this change. As Senate Housing Chairman, I want to be the Lt. Governor who will help solve the homeless crisis and get more affordable housing built for our residents. I also want to diversify our economic base with aerospace and agriculture jobs. I am a proponent of improving our medical marijuana program and building a hemp industry in Hawaii.
“I want to be the Lt. Governor who will help solve the homeless crisis and get more affordable housing built for our residents.”
MA: Has Hawaii made any advances with the plastics issue and its effect on the ocean/environment?
WE: The City and County of Honolulu recently passed a stronger plastic bag bill, and I believe the Big Island is looking at a ban bill as well. Maui was the first county to pass a ban. There is a push to look at plastics in the ocean and doing more to combat the problem marine mammals, birds, turtles and fish deal with.