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Green air, sea, ground transportation goals set by state with new bill

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Ampaire’s Electric EEL flies over Maui. PC: Ampaire Inc.

State lawmakers and transportation industry officials gathered recently to announce the approval of a bill that will make Hawaiʻi the first state to commit to a zero-emissions, clean transportation future for air, sea and ground transportation, according to a state Senate news release.

Senate Bill 3311 HD2 sets up the Hawaiʻi Clean Transportation Initiative, which establishes a goal in law to achieve zero-emissions, clean transportation throughout the state.

Green aviation will yield cheaper inter-island transit options, leaders said.

“Eliminating our dependence on costly fossil fuels by switching to clean transportation options means we can significantly reduce the cost of getting around for local residents and reduce the cost of inter-island airfare,” Sen. Chris Lee, Senate Transportation Committee chairperson and introducer of SB 3311, said in the release.

The measure empowers the state Department of Transportation and State Energy Office to accelerate investment, innovation and partnership with clean transportation industry officials to achieve zero-emissions inter island transportation, and expand electric vehicle chargers and other infrastructure to aid the switch to zero-emissions vehicles.

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Transportation companies developing fully-electric aircraft, gliders and other airborne vehicles are working to bring zero-emissions electric aviation and inter-island transportation options to Hawai’i and test flights have already been conducted, the release said.

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Kevin Noertker, CEO and co-founder Ampaire, said in the news release that Hawaiʻi is at the forefront of decarbonization efforts thanks in large measure to strong support from state government, including measures like SB 3311.

“It’s one of the reasons Ampaire, with support from Elemental Excelerator, chose to demonstrate its low-emission technology along airline routes on Maui,” Noertker said. “We look forward to Hawai‘i being among the first to benefit from green aviation.”

Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia CEO, also praised the bill. 

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“Passing this bill strongly positions Hawai’i to advance sustainable transportation through public and private sector collaboration,” Miftakhov said in the release. “With this measure, Hawai‘i residents will see their state become a leader in zero-emission aviation.”

Hawaiʻi led the nation as the first state to require utilities to generate 100% renewable electricity by 2045 (Act 97, 2015) and the first state to enact a law to achieve a carbon-negative clean economy, sequestering more carbon emissions than it produces, by 2045 (Act 15, 2018), the release said.

SB 3311 and partnerships with industry innovators to expand clean transportation will help Hawai‘i achieve these targets.

The bill now awaits action by Gov. David Ige, who must either sign, veto or let the bill become law without his signature by July 12.

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