PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT

In Hawaii, our environment is our economy, and Chris has fought to protect our irreplaceable natural resources for our next generation. Working with community leaders and Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation, Chris helped organize a grassroots effort and pushed to expand protections for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The expanded monument prohibits sea floor mineral mining around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and ensures the protection of the oldest species of life on the planet.

When residents began fighting for their health and safety as industrial agriculture companies sprayed thousands of gallons of pesticides near communities and watersheds, Chris led public hearings and questioned officials about the lack of meaningful oversight. In 2018 Chris negotiated a deal to overcome strong lobbying and opposition by pesticide companies, and make Hawaii the first state to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, require disclosure of pesticides being sprayed, and establish 100 foot pesticide buffer zones around all public schools. The following year California, Oregon, New York and Connecticut introduced similar legislation following the success of the ban in Hawaii. This political battle over pesticide regulation in Hawaii was the subject of a 2019 documentary "Poisoning Paradise" produced by Pierce Brosnan and directed by Keely Shaye Brosnan

When a massive spill in Honolulu Harbor wiped out nearly all marine life, Chris helped lead the effort to ensure negligent regulators and shipping companies paid to clean up the mess, restore marine life, and prevent it from happening again. 

After jet fuel began leaking from the Navy’s underground storage tanks into the public water supply, Chris helped push the Navy toward a fix and passed a law ensuring public oversight of the recovery process, and continues to fight for a permanent solution.

 

When studies found that toxic chemicals in some sunscreens were killing Hawaii’s coral reefs, Chris led negotiations to pass the first bill in the country banning those toxic chemicals in sunscreen to protect near-shore reefs.

 

Knowing that even renewable energy projects can have impacts on communities, Chris passed legislation requiring developers of windmill projects to pay for decommissioning old windmills and restoring the land to a pristine state.

NEXT ISSUE: Fighting Discrimination and Ensuring Equality

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