Transcending oil

Hawaiʻi is heading towards 100% clean energy.
But until we get there, we spend over a billion dollars per year on foreign oil.

Candidates debate energy, climate issues in last major public forum before primary election

By Ashley Nagaoka, Reporter

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) –

With the primary election coming up this Saturday, candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and congress tried one last time to set themselves apart from their opponents in the last major public forum before the primary.

Monday’s candidate forum at UH Manoa was hosted by Blue Planet Foundation, Elemental Excelerator, and the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce.

Both Democratic and Republican candidates had the opportunity to share their ideas and solutions to tackling some of Hawaii’s most pressing climate and energy issues, but some organizers were disappointed that several high profile candidates didn’t show up because of other commitments.

In the race for governor, the candidates were asked both what they would do — and who should pay — to help speed up Hawaii’s transition to clean energy.

Incumbent Gov. David Ige says he’s already taking steps to accelerate that transition.

“I’ve asked all of our departments to really evaluate all of their programs, and already begin to divert and change the way they currently spend existing dollars into those projects that accelerate our commitment to 100-percent clean renewable,” Ige said.

Republican candidate and state House Representative Andria Tupola said the state could provide more money to clean energy initiatives through tax credits, reallocation of taxes, and bonds.

She says the state also needs to focus on ways to cut costs.

“50-percent of the money UH needs is for electricity. And I asked (UH) directly how we can cut cost for students and they said help us with our electric. So we should start there,” Tupola said.

Republican candidate John Carroll said he wouldn’t increase state resources at this time.

“The state is in economic chaos, and I will not be increasing money to pay for anything until I get a good firm grip on what we can actually afford,” Carroll said.

The candidates for lieutenant governor were asked how they would reduce Hawaii’s contributions to climate change in a timely manner.

“You have to question the tourism rates that we have now. All of the airplanes that fly in and out of Hawaii and all of the consumption of energy that tourists use here in Hawaii,” said democratic candidate Kim Coco Iwamoto.

“If you decide to live in a house on the beach, if you decide to live next to an active volcano, you’re making choices and there are risks involved. It’s not the government’s function to bail you out all the time,” said republican candidate Jeremy Low.

The congressional candidates were asked if they would support putting a substantial price on carbon, or a carbon tax, and how they could help the low-to-moderate income workers who might lose their jobs because of the tax.

“I suggest that we spend the money to give income tax refunds to low and middle income people in our country, as well as using that money to build clean green infrastructure,” said Sherry Alu Campagna, who is running for the Second Congressional District.

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