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Contact EPA Pacific Southwest

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Region 9 Strategic Plan, 2011-14

Geographic Area of Focus: Hawaii and the Pacific Islands


The state of Hawaii, with 1.3 million residents, is one of the most remote archipelagos on the planet.  Hawaii imports 90% of its energy and over 85% of its food.  Seven million visitors are drawn to Hawaii each year to the beautiful beaches and coastal waters.  There are 11 military bases in Hawaii utilizing the islands’ resources for training and family housing for over 20,000 personnel. Through enforcement, resource management, and environmental awareness, Hawaii hopes to return to "minimal reliance on importing”" and "positive use of land and water resources," according to Governor Abercrombie’s "A New Day in Hawaii Plan."

In 2012, the EPA’s highest priorities are:

  • To encourage integrating clean, renewable energy projects and alternative transportation systems;
  • To protect streams, coastal waters, and coral reefs; and
  • To move towards zero waste by promoting pollution prevention and reducing the accumulation of trash in the Pacific Gyre.

In addition to EPA staff time and resources, the Rewarding Internships for Sustainable Employment (RISE) program augments our resources by providing part-time, paid environmental internships.  The RISE program is designed to provide green jobs and training while supporting Hawaii’s sustainability goals.  RISE interns work with public and private partners on a wide variety of projects.  By 2015, we plan to expand the RISE program to all four counties in Hawaii. 

Air Quality and Climate Change

EPA will support the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative’s (HCEI’s) goal of achieving 70% clean energy by 2030.  This goal includes renewable energy, energy efficiency and transportation, which in turn addresses air quality and climate change issues.

To help create a clean energy economy, by 2013, EPA will:

  • Align our Clean Air Act (CAA) regulatory authorities with HCEI.  As part of this, EPA will complete a Federal Implementation Plan for Regional Haze and finalize a control technology standard for electric generating units.
  • Assist Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) in the development of greenhouse gas regulations.
  • Chair the Alternative Transportation group to assist HCEI, Honolulu Clean Cities, and the rest of the coalition in their effort to reduce vehicle miles traveled by 3% or 40 million gallons.
  • Partner with at least five Hawaii Federal facilities under the Federal Green Challenge aimed at reducing GHG emissions by 5% by the end of 2013 in at least two of six areas: electronics, energy, purchasing, transportation, waste, and water.
  • Provide EPA tools and planning assistance to the City and County of Honolulu.  This will be done as part of the EPA Climate Showcase Community Grant ($499,000) and the HUD-DOT-EPA Sustainable Community Challenge Grant ($2,383,424) awarded in 2010.

Water Quality and Sustainable Infrastructure

Protecting streams, coastal waters, and coral reefs is a priority for EPA, HDOH, local governments, and the public.  EPA will focus on addressing multiple types and sources of land-based pollution to protect and improve coastal water quality and unique environmental assets, such as coral reefs. 

To protect, enhance and restore Hawaii’s coastal waters, by 2013, EPA will:

a pacific island and pristine blue water
  • Improve water quality in Lahaina by requiring full disinfection of wastewater from the Maui County’s Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility to protect groundwater and nearby coastal waters.
  • Conduct compliance inspections at 110 facilities with surface water discharge permits and initiate compliance or enforcement action to address any CWA violations.
  • Close up to 270 large capacity cesspools (LCCs).  Over 1,100 active LCCs have been identified to date.  We will focus on priority areas (such as West Maui and Waimanalo) and priority sectors (such as restaurants and apartment buildings).  Approximately 170 of the 270 targeted LCCs will be closed through EPA enforcement actions.
  • Develop storm water management controls for the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill on Oahu.
  • Review Hawaii Department of Transportation storm water consent decree deliverables, incorporate into a revised storm water permit, and close out the consent decree.
  • Review and approve Kauai’s Hanalei Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).
  • Work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to approve a new Coral Reef Mitigation Program to restore coral reefs.
  • Work with key stakeholders in West Maui, South Kohala, and Hanalei Bay watersheds to develop watershed management plans.  Use federal authorities or funding to initiate a project to address land-based sources of pollution.

To promote sustainable water-related infrastructure by 2013, EPA will:

  • Ensure EPA State Revolving Fund (SRF) capitalization grants are awarded to HDOH in a timely manner and that HDOH maintains a fund utilization rate within 5% of the national funding pace.
  • Ensure City and County of Honolulu compliance with the universal consent decree for the wastewater collection system and treatment plant upgrades by tracking consent decree milestones.
  • Hold up to four local workshops to showcase sustainable infrastructure projects funded by SRF.
Cleaning Up Communities and Advancing Sustainable Development

EPA will work closely with communities in Hawaii to facilitate property cleanup and reuse.  Cleaning up previously contaminated properties for reuse can reinvigorate communities, protect natural resources, and prevent sprawl.  The Pearl Harbor Naval Complex (PHNC) is an active military facility encompassing approximately 12,600 acres of land and water.  The Harbor’s four lochs provide an estuarine environment bordered by wetlands and marsh habitat. 

To advance cleanup at Pearl Harbor, by 2013, EPA will:

  • Oversee the Navy’s cleanup of the Makalapa Pesticide Rinsate Pit.  The Navy has cleaned up approximately 340 tons of contaminated soils and will clean up 300 to 500 additional tons.
  • Make two cleanup decisions at the PHNC and Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific sites, evaluating the environmental footprint of the cleanup and promoting the use of renewable energy.
  • Proceed with investigations and cleanup work at the private ownership sites around Pearl Harbor: Waipahu Landfill and the Oahu Sugar property.

EPA and HDOH are overseeing cleanups at 13 high priority RCRA hazardous waste sites and 200 leaking underground storage tank sites.  Approximately 15-25 new underground storage tank releases are reported each year. 

To enforce waste regulations and oversee hazardous waste and leaking underground storage tank cleanups, by 2013, EPA will:

  • Partner with HDOH to oversee completion of approximately 20 leaking underground storage tank cleanups.
  • Partner with HDOH to ensure that final cleanup remedies are constructed or completed at 6 RCRA hazardous waste cleanup sites.  With these actions, remedies will be constructed or completed at 50% of the sites in Hawaii. In the next five years, final remedies will be constructed or completed at all 13 high priority RCRA sites in Hawaii.
  • Lead federal inspections or provide technical assistance to HDOH at approximately 16 of the 54 RCRA large quantity generator hazardous waste facilities each year (30%).  EPA will ensure that all appropriate enforcement is taken by either HDOH or EPA.

To promote renewable energy on contaminated lands, by 2013, EPA will:

  • Create a Hawaii map of contaminated lands suitable for renewable energy projects.
  • Work with HDOH to ensure the safe operation of photovoltaic cells recently installed on the former Hawaiian Western Steel site.

The Hawaiian archipelago acts as a giant “strainer,” collecting marine debris generated throughout the North Pacific region.  This marine debris originates predominately from Pacific Rim countries, ocean vessels, and natural disasters.  EPA is coordinating with the NOAA Marine Debris Program to reduce sources of marine debris, prevent trash from entering the oceans, and assess the human and ecosystem impacts and potential for cleanup. 

To reduce the accumulation and impact of trash in the Pacific Gyre, by 2013, EPA will:

  • Work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the University of Hawaii, and the Oceania Regional Response Team to assess the potential impacts of the 2011 Japan tsunami-generated debris.  This work will include finding and recording associated macro and micro marine debris in the Pacific Gyre.
  • Compile Hawaii-specific economic data to study the cost of addressing marine debris.
  • Work with HDOH and CCH to ensure the trash reduction plan required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water permit is developed and implemented.
  • Investigate potential sources of industrial plastic pellets and pursue Clean Water Act storm water inspections/enforcement, where appropriate.

Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Pollution prevention strategies are especially important in island environments with constrained infrastructure and sensitive ecosystems. 

To help prevent pollution from solid and hazardous waste, by 2013, EPA will:

  • Partner with three Hawaii colleges, schools, groceries, and/or venues under EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge to achieve at least a 5% reduction in food waste reaching landfills from each facility by the end of 2013.
  • Reduce potential runoff of nutrients into coral reefs and other sensitive ecosystems from turf grass while conserving water through a pilot project grant to the University of Hawaii.
  • Work in Waianae, Oahu to decrease the use of pollutants by reducing trash thrown into streams by 10% and increasing the use of disposal and recycling facilities by 10%.
  • Approve HDOH’s “Model Accreditation Plan.” Once approved, the state can take responsibility for training and certifying asbestos abatement professionals.
  • Assist the State of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) add over 30 additional Green Business Program participants that commit to waste, water, and energy reduction in the hospitality sector.

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Pacific Islands

The U.S.-affiliated Pacific islands, including the territories of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and Guam, as well as the Freely Associated States of the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), face significant environmental challenges. Each island jurisdiction has its own local environmental agency working to protect public health and the environment. Due to the challenges presented by their remote locations and limited land-based resources, the islands have a great need for better infrastructure to provide safe drinking water, treat sewage, and address garbage and hazardous waste. They are among the first to experience climate change impacts, including rising sea levels and threats to coral reefs. In addition, geo-political changes have heightened the strategic importance of U.S. Pacific islands, as underscored by the proposed construction of a new military base on Guam.

Building Pacific Island Environmental Capacity

  • In 2012 implement and manage a contract to increase engineering capacity at Guam Waterworks Authority, which will include planning and construction management training.
  • Maintain the long-term placement of U.S. Public Health Service engineers with island environmental agencies and water utilities. Work with U.S. Public Health Service in 2011 and 2012 to recruit new engineers to replace outgoing staff based in the islands.
  • In 2012 implement Memorandums of Understanding with Pacific Island colleges and universities to promote partnerships with EPA and environmental career opportunities for students.

Improve Pacific Island Solid Waste Management

  • In Guam, continue to provide technical review and work with the federal court-appointed Receiver to open the new Layon landfill, cease the acceptance of waste at the old Ordot landfill, and begin closure activities and install a temporary cap at Ordot by the end of 2012.
  • Collaborate with Guam EPA, DOD and island stakeholders to advance a framework for zero waste management and baseline recycling measurement; support efforts to increase Guam’s recycling rates by 25% by 2014.
  • Support Guam’s implementation of beverage container legislation and Guam’s plastic bag elimination initiative by providing peer matching, tours, and technical support from EPA, Hawaii and California experts through 2013.

Increase green building practices and renewable energy, and improve sustainable practices in the territories:

  • By 2012, work with territorial energy offices and energy task forces to identify and implement green building and energy efficiency measures, in support of local executive orders and codes.
  • Support the construction of the first LEED-certified Gold building in American Samoa, to be completed in 2012.

Collaborate with the Government of Guam and Department of Defense to minimize the environmental impacts of an increased military presence.

  • By 2012, work with DOD, the government of Guam, and other federal agencies to develop and sign an agreement on the implementation of the Civil Military Coordination Council and Adaptive Program Management as a way to prevent or reduce significant environmental impacts associated with the construction phase of the military buildup.
  • During 2012, continue to collaborate with DOD, the government of Guam, and other federal agencies on the identification of water infrastructure needs, and prioritization of any external funding which may become available to address those needs.

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