Achieving a Higher Level of Environmental Stewardship:

Limiting the Effects of Climate Change

Although we, as a small county, cannot make much of a dent in the world's CO2 emissions contributing to global climate change, we can do much to increase our islands' resiliency to the effects of climate change:

  • Carefully studying the coastlines and taking action to restrict development in low-lying or fragile coastal lands, increasing natural erosion control, and support our surge-stopping reefs

  • Only permitting future infrastructure plans that take into account sea-level rise 

  • Decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels both through renewable energy capital improvement projects and through decreased use of fossil energy through efficiency standards

  • Supporting transportation plans that decrease the islands' reliance on fossil-fueled vehicles

  • Using the current federal transportation stimulus money to complete needed infrastructure repair on our roadways and bridges

  • Taking a serious look at transitioning MECO to a cooperative electrical utility, and heading towards that route if it will ultimately reduce electrical rates, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels for generation, make it easier for residents and small farmers to produce and sell back their own electricity, provide capital for improvements on existing electrical delivery, and fund microgrids for the districts

Supporting Our Outstanding Environmental Organizations

Maui County enjoys a large number of well-funded and incredibly staffed environmental organizations that we rely on for their scientific data and environmental monitoring. In return for their tireless services, we need to listen to and act upon their observations and recommendations where possible and viable. 

Protecting Our Oceans, Reefs, and Fisheries by:

  • Recognizing that healthier reefs are more resilient in warmer oceans, so our time is short and we need to work aggressively to bring our reefs to a higher level of health as sea temperatures rise

  • Recognizing that healthy mauna, healthy land, and healthy waterways lead to healthier coastal ocean waters and reefs, so we need to act accordingly

  • Vigorously enforcing the ban on oxybenzone sunscreens (beginning January 1, 2021) and educating visitors on the reasons why they should avoid using the sunscreens they may have brought with them from their homes

  • Commissioning environmental educational videos to share with arriving visitors on their transpacific flights

  • Addressing chemical runoff and closely monitoring sewage treatment on the coasts to limit nitrogen oversaturation and algae blooms in our near coastal waters

  • Commissioning advertising campaigns, informational placards, and online videos that teach ocean users how to avoid stepping on coral, how to safely remove debris and errant fishing gear, and how to limit their impact by using less plastic and keeping the beaches clean

  • Reaching out to local fishermen and women to learn about trends in size and quantity and assess ways we can increase fish stocks to support our local fishermen while also caring for the reef's overall health

  • Take big steps to eradicate invasive limu (algae/seaweed) that harm our reefs, fish stocks, and edible limu and work with state organizations to replant native limu 

Waging War on Invasive Species through:

  • Increasing support for the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) and providing advertising blasts about our most damaging invasive species, as most residents are unaware of what they can or should do to help

  • Supporting invasive species eradication events, such as a week or month when the county's residents are encouraged to focus on the removal of one particular invasive species

  • Increasing school-level education about invasive species and what every 'ohana can do to combat them

  • Getting serious about county-wide mosquito eradication for the sake of our native bird populations, which are being decimated by mosquito-borne diseases

  • Bringing together the various non-profits and generous individuals who are working to address our very serious feral cat problem and forming a commission to work towards a comprehensive plan to drastically reduce and eventually eliminate the feral cat population on Maui. Solutions might be a combination of TNR (trap-neuter-release), cat sanctuaries, euthanasia, and far-reaching education programs that inform residents about how they can physically contribute to the solutions

  • Increasing access to more hunting areas for pig hunters to continue their important work of limiting the feral pig population, while also subsidizing TNR programs for semi-feral pigs

Balancing Our Approach to Development

Development and Environment do not have to be "one or the other". We can have careful, mitigated development that is respectful to the environment, and we as a county need to get serious about improving the development that we already have, through such county actions as the following: 

  • Ensuring that development meets the standards and demands of community plans before it is approved

  • Working with developers to allow sustainable, measured development that meets the community plans, provides local-focused housing options, adds to our communities, and addresses increased traffic and strain on natural and county resources

  • Opening up rezoning capabilities to allow developers to repurpose existing vacant or derelict commercial properties into mixed commercial-residential affordable rental opportunities

  • Choosing to allow needed updates to older homes to get them more energy efficient DESPITE their cesspools. Current rules mean that homeowners with cesspools have their hands tied when it comes to almost any remodeling or renovation, unless they replace their cesspool with a septic system. The environmental benefits of septic systems (pumped and dumped nearer to the ocean under current county disposal options) over cesspools that are not near watersheds is dubious, and the extreme cost in the changeover means our local homeowners either continue with inefficient homes or construct illegal remodels and add-ons. 

  • Easing restrictions and permit pricing on remodeling, renovations, and adding-on for existing local homeowners so that they can legally and affordably make their existing homes useable for growing or multigenerational families

  • Repairing and bringing up to date the Upcountry Water System and allowing current homeowners (often on the water meter waitlist for years) preference in getting water meters over new developments

  • Easing the permitting process on electrical box and electrical systems upgrades so that older homes can achieve more electrical efficiency

  • Addressing wastewater management countywide through multiple approaches, which might include more wastewater reuse, changing approaches to cesspools, working greywater reuse into the building code, building wastewater facilities in each district, etc.