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Issue Position: Environment

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Preserving ecological treasures

I support protecting and strengthening the environmental laws that have sheltered our wilderness, endangered species and ecosystems and the quality of our air and water. I oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as well as in other environmentally sensitive areas. I support increased funding for our National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges as well as funding to help states like Hawaii protect natural areas for the benefit of future generations. We must take strong measures to slow the accumulation of greenhouse gases as well as plan for the inevitable effect of some level of warming on our communities, water supplies, ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­agriculture, and plant and animal species.

* Global Warming: I am a cosponsor of the two major bills in Congress addressing climate change: the Safe Climate Act and the Climate Stewardship Act. It is essential that the U.S. at long last provide international leadership in addressing this very real crisis by establishing mandatory limits on greenhouse gases. I also support Vice President Gore's call to set a national goal of producing all of our nation's electricity from renewable sources. In addition, we must recognize that global climate change is already occurring and plan accordingly by protecting vital habitat for species, conserving water resources, among other things.

* Endangered Species: Hawaii is home to more endangered species than any other state; approximately one-quarter of all species listed under the Endangered Species Act are endemic to Hawaii. From unique forest and water birds to the monk sea to our threatened and endangered sea turtles to an amazing array of insects, Hawaii's species are an ecological treasure that must be preserved. The most serious threats to our threatened and endangered species are loss of habitat and invasive species, which is why I have focused on these priorities in my appropriations requests.

* Invasive Species: Although the mainland is protected from any harmful species existing in Hawaii through inspections, Hawaii does not have similar protection from invasive species brought through imports from the U.S. mainland or from other countries. Some 11 invasive species are established in Hawaii each year. Prevention is clearly the most important first step. Hawaii also needs help in controlling the undesirable invasive that have already arrived. Prevention is far less expensive than trying to get rid of a problem species once it is established. Efforts to control miconia, coqui frogs, little red fire ant, and other species have had mixed results due in part to lack of funding and a slow response to the problem. I will continue to support funding to prevent the introduction of new invasive species and to control or eradicate existing harmful alien species in Hawaii.

* Coastal Protection: Hawaii's coasts must be protected from inappropriate development. Our beaches and scenic coasts are not only important to our economy, they are essential to our quality of life. I will work to ensure access to the water for swimming, surfing, boating, fishing; protect of important coastal habitat for endemic species; and to preserve the natural viewscapes and open space that are so highly valued by our citizens and by all who visit Hawaii.


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