DLNR Confirmation Hearings, Round 2….

Governor Ige’s nomination of Carleton Ching to run the Department of Land and Natural Resources went down in flames a few days ago, with Ige withdrawing Ching’s name after a flood of negative testimony and a straw vote that demonstrated that Ching couldn’t be confirmed by the full Senate. Now it’s the turn of Ige’s pick for Deputy to the Chairperson of DLNR, Kekoa Kaluhiwa, who is also controversial.

At 2:45 p.m. tomorrow, Kaluhiwa’s nomination goes before the Senate Committee on Water and Land, whose negative recommendation of Ching was a major nail in Ching’s coffin. But  Kaluhiwa’s resume raises some of the same alarm bells that went off for conservationists re Ching’s nomination.  Like Ching, Kaluhiwa has been a lobbyist–in Kaluhiwa’s case, for Horizon Lines, where, among other duties, he assisted company executives in strategizing campaign contributions and necessary reporting to the Campaign Spending Commission” and “assisted in monitoring bills relating to the maritime industry.  He also served as a registered lobbyist for Young Brothers during the 2014 legislative session, when “primary bills of interest related to invasive species protection and possible restructuring of the Public Utilities Commission.”  NextEra Energy also employed him for public relations work related to the PUC:he was “retained to assist with community relations efforts specific to the development of an electric transmission cable between Oahu and Maui.  Since the PUC did not allow that projec tmove forward, he says, he did not actually “conduct any community outreach,” although he did attend some public meetings related to the project.  He claim he did not “participate in or have knowledge of” any of NextEra’s other Hawaii-related projects, including its proposed purchase of HECO and HELCO.

But Kaluhiwa says his undergraduate course work continued courses not only in  “political science, management theory” and “economics,” but also in “climate change, land tenure and wildlife management.” He also points to his 11 years of service with U. S. Senator Daniel Akaka and his Hawaiia heritage as assets he could use at the DLNR.  As a graduate intern with the Land Assets Division of Kamehameha Schools, he worked on hunting issues an feral ungulate control, two areas with which the DLNR is also heavily involved.  To monitor and or testify on Kaluhiwa’s hearing, click here.

Also up for consideration before the Water and Land Committee tomorrow are three less controversial appointments: Ige’s naming of Keith Downing, Ulalia Woodside and  Christopher Yuen to the Board of Land and Natural Resources.  To monitor and/or testify on those nominations, click on the links attached to their names.