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(Haw., Mar. 13, 2023): The Hawai’i Supreme Court affirmed the state Public Utility Commission’s rejection of a power purchase agreement that proposed burning trees to produce energy. The Hawai’i Electric Light Company proposed to purchase energy from Hu Honua Bioenergy; that energy would be produced by burning trees and other biomass. Life of the Land, a community-based organization, opposed the proposal, arguing that the biomass burning would increase greenhouse gases (GHG) beyond the current Hawai’ian plan for zero GHG emissions. In its opinion, the court acknowledged that the people of Hawai’i have declared a climate emergency, citing 2021 legislation, and recognized that the right to a clean and healthful environment under the Hawai’i Constitution includes “the right to a life-sustaining climate system.” The court upheld the Commission’s rejection of the proposal, ruling that state regulators fulfilled a “public interest-minded mission” in rejecting the agreement based on the power project’s environmental repercussions.  Read the full decision here. 

View all cases in Judicial Trends and Public Health – May 16, 2023

View all cases in “Monitoring Property and the Built Environment.”