Park Offers Passes for Volunteers

From Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park invites everyone to volunteer and help protect the native Hawaiian rainforest on National Public Lands Day, Sat., Sept. 26. Everyone gets in for free, and volunteers at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will receive a free pass to use on another day of their choosing. 

In honor of National Public Lands Day, the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the United States, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is offering the Stewardship at the Summit program from 9 a.m. to noon. Meet volunteers Paul and Jane Field at K?lauea Visitor Center, then head into the forest to remove Himalayan ginger from the summit of K?lauea. While pretty and fragrant, Himalayan (also called k?hili) ginger is one of the most invasive plants in the park, and on earth. It is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of the 100 World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species. The park strives to protect the rainforest habitat of native birds and plants, but Himalayan ginger takes over the native rainforest understory, making it impossible for the next generation of forest to grow, and it crowds out many native plants, including pa‘iniu (a Hawaiian lily), ‘ama‘u fern, and others. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and long pants. Bring a hat, sunscreen, raingear, snacks, and water. Loppers/gloves provided.  No advance registration required.

Every year on National Public Lands Day (NPLD), all fee-charging national parks offer free entry. Many parks and public lands across the nation organize stewardship projects and special programs on NPLD to raise awareness about why it is important to protect our public lands.

Five Local Nurseries Pass the “Plant Pono” Test

Six retail nurseries on the Big Island are the latest to receive an endorsement for their commitment to preventing the spread of invasive species. The Plant Pono program, a state wide initiative being implemented on Hawai’i island by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC), recognizes nurseries who implement best practices for control of certain pests and who agree not to import, sell or propagate any potentially invasive plant species.
“I really want to improve the land and beautify it, not cause damage with invasive plants and animals [like] little fire ant and coqui,” says Jacque Green, owner of Green’s Garden Gifts and Things. Her nursery is one of the latest to have earned the Plant Pono endorsement, along with ESP Nursery, Nui Loa Hiki nursery, Sustainable Bioresources, Tropical Edibles, and Pana’ewa Foliage. They joined The Nursery, Inc., Southern Turf, Kalaoa Gardens, and South Kona Nursery, which were the first Big Island businesses to receive endorsements in early 2015.
To maintain the endorsement, nurseries must undergo annual surveys by BIISC early detection specialists and implement stringent prevention measures against invasive pests developed by the Hawaii Ant Lab and the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) at the University of Hawaii. Nurseries can play a critical role in preventing the spread of pest plants and animals. Invasive species are defined as introduced organisms that cause harm to the economy, environment, or human health. Worldwide, 10–?15% of introduced species become invasive. Many invasive plants, such as miconia and Himalayan (kahili) ginger, were originally introduced as ornamentals and spread through planting by garden enthusiasts before expanding into natural areas and disrupting native ecosystems.
Potted plants were identified as one of the top vectors in the spread of Little Fire Ant, which have cost millions for government and businesses in Hawai’i since they were first detected on the Big Island in 1999. Subsequent surveys completed in 2002 revealed populations of LFA from Kalapana to Laupahoehoe, indicating the ants were already present and well spread across the Puna and Hilo areas before they were noticed.
“Getting nurseries involved in detecting and preventing the spread of pest animals and plants just makes sense,” according to Jimmy Parker, botanist and coordinator of BIISC’s early detection team. “Very often we find that invasive plants are sold unknowingly by nurseries and then planted by well–?meaning citizens and landscapers. A Plant Pono endorsement lets the public know the plants they have purchased will not become the next albizia or miconia.”
The likelihood of a plant being invasive in Hawaii can be predicted accurately thanks to an online assessment tool called the Hawaii Pacific Weed Risk Assessment (HPWRA). HPWRA was developed by botanists from Hawaii and around the globe, and uses 49 questions about a plant’s biology, ecology, and weedy tendencies elsewhere in the world to score its potential invasive threat. HPWRA is 95% accurate in identifying invasive plants. More than a thousand plants have already been assessed and can be viewed on the website, which also suggests safe alternatives to invasive ornamentals. While the Plant Pono program reserves the endorsement for exemplary nurseries, the risk assessment tool is free and available on www.PlantPono.org to any nursery or home gardener considering adding a new plant to their collection. The Plant Pono program was initiated in 2014 by the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS) and is funded through the Hawaii Invasive Species Council and the U.S. Forest Service.
Contact information for all Plant Pono nurseries is available on the BIISC website at www.BIISC.org.

Commentary: Kama’aina Blues

by Alan McNarie

Kama’aina: someone who’s been here long enough to look at a place in the present, see it as it once was, see it as it will be, and care deeply about all three.  I just spent two days on the Kona side for the first time in years–met my lady friend Kersten’s brother and his wife for the first time and enjoyed the visit, but that enjoyment was tempered by Kama’aina pain. They’d rented a time-share in Waikoloa. I took them to see Kalako-Honokahau National Historic Park, one of my favorite spots on the island: one of the few places left in the islands where, in the past, I’ve seen not just endangered species such as ae’o (black-necked stilts) and ‘alae ke’oke’o (Hawaiian coots), but whole flocks of them. Yesterday, though, all I saw were a single ‘alae ke’oke’o and a few sandpipers. On previous visits I’ve seen dozens of green sea turtles, either hauled out to sun or grazing on algae in the tide pools; yesterday I only saw three or four. I’m hoping that the birds and turtles were just displaced temporarily by the storm, and will return…. Yesterday evening, while Kersten nursed a migraine at our darkened room, I went snorkeling with Kersten’s brother at Anaeho’omalu. We saw only two yellow tangs; almost all 0f the few fish we did observe were small, drab species–probably thanks to the damned aquarium trade.

But one thing was getting more abundant on the Kona Coast:  shopping centers. New developments seemed to be sprouting like fungi all along Highway 19 from Waikoloa to Kailua-Kona. The whole North Kona Coast, which was the home mainly to feral donkeys, a few beach parks and the ruins of ancient Hawaiian villages when I first got here, appears to be on its way to becoming a strip city….

I’m sure many or most of the tourists who sunbathe and play golf at the Waikoloa resorts don’t share this kind of temporal migraine, this painful triple vision; they just see the luxurious cocoon of the resorts, without seeing how much the land is changing. The only glimpses they get of the past may be the petroglyphs along the golf course trails, the romanticized biographies of Hawaiian royalty on the plaques in the King’s Market, and the bowdlerized and inaccurate  “Hawaiian luaus” where they feast on roast pig and pineapple while “hula dancers” shake their hips furiously to the wild rhythms of Tahiti. I think Kersten’s brother and his wife are probably more sensitive than many to these conflicts of place and time; they edit a newsletter for their own community in Arizona, where some of the same conflicts must be happening.  But how could they know that the very place where they came for a happy getaway was arousing such deep conflicts in their resident relatives?  How can they guess that, when our smiles fade too quickly, the smile at seeing them is genuine, but the sadness comes from seeing the land? How can they possibly discern the difference between what we feel about this place and what we feel about them?

How many other visitors notice the tired scowls and forced smiles of the wait help, who likely caught the Hele-On from Puna or Ka’u in the wee hours of the morning in order to reach their minimum-wage jobs? How many of them realize that once, all along this coast, every bay and cove held a Hawaiian village instead of a luxury hotel or subdivision?  How many of them glimpse the pain of what was lost, and will be lost, to give them their few days in an artificial “Paradise”?

And yet it’s not their fault.  They’re trying to get away from their own troubles in their own homes in far-off places, and paying dearly for the privilege.  So we hide our pain and we smile, and some of us get a few dollars from the resorts’ corporate owners to help maintain the illusion.

Today marks the 27th anniversary of the day that I first stepped off the plane in Hilo. Since that day, I’ve worked first as a teacher, then as a paralegal helping the victims of family violence, then as a journalist, giving people information that they needed to know and might not have learned otherwise. I’ve celebrated local artists and local culture, have tracked off-island money in local elections, and have helped to provoke at least four full-fledged grassroots rebellions with the stories I’ve reported. I like to think that I’ve given enough back overall to earn my place on this island that I love so much, though sometimes I wonder.  For the past 15 years or so, I’ve been joking that I was “almost a kama’aina”–and would be until the day I die.

I’m going to stop saying that now.  I’m at least a novice kama’aina.  It hurts too much, now, for me to think I’m anything else. But I know that what I feel is only a scratch compared to the pain of those with older roots. How magnified would my sadness be, if my ancestors had lived in one of those vanished coastal villages–if they’d toiled for generations, piling the rocks of those mighty fishpond dikes at Kaloko-Honokahau? What would I feel if my great-great-grandmother had left my great-grandfather’s piko in one of those holes pecked in the pahoehoe beside what is now the seventh green, but I’m only welcome to come to visit that spot, now, if I’m a corporate employee or the guest of one of the guests? How would I feel if my ancestral village  lay under the foundation of a time-share condo?

There is too much pain, too much sadness deep in the bones of this beautiful island. Kama’aina are the ones who are gifted to feel it.

 

Feds Issue Order to Protect Monk Seals in the Main Hawaiian Islands

The National Marine Fisheries Service has issued a final rule designating 7,000 square miles of beaches and coastal waters around the main Hawaiian Islands as “critical habitat” for Hawaiian Monk seals. The new ruling grants more protections for the seals, some of the most critically endangered marine mammals on the planet. There are only about 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals left, and the population is believed to be falling about 3 percent per year. Critical habitat for the seals had already been designated in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands in 1986, but he seals have been seen more frequently in the main islands in recent years.

The new ruling would place stronger restrictions over federal activities about Hawaiian coastal waters and on its beaches–but only on Federal activities and those funded or permitted by the United States Government. It “does not interfere with fishing, gathering, swimming, or other beach activities. The critical habitat designation affects only federal, not state or local, actions … The designation does not make the lands federal, restrict public access, or forbid activities or developments. Critical habitat merely identifies the areas where federal government projects must give extra consideration and minimize destruction and degradation of the coast, something that beach- and ocean-loving Hawaiians would want anyway,” according to a joint press release from nine environmental organizations, three of which— the Center for Biological Diversity, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and Ocean
Conservancy—had first petitioned the Feds to enact the restrictions in 2008.

“Without a growing, healthy population in the main Hawaiian Islands — where seals are successfully foraging and reproducing — the seal could go extinct in our lifetime. Federal data show that endangered species with critical habitat protections are twice as likely to recover as those without,” maintained the press release.

“In the seven years since we filed the petition to designate critical habitat around the main Hawaiian Islands, there has been a lot of critical discussion about how to use environmental regulations to care for Hawai`i’s wildlife and coastal resources. We appreciate that discussion and, although we had hoped it would be more comprehensive, we’re glad to see the final rule,” said Bianca Isaki of KAHEA.

Hawaiian monk seals are among the oldest and most primitive of all seal species. Their closest relatives are halfway around the globe, in the Mediterranean; a Caribbean monk seal species is already believed to be extinct. Among the dangers they face are habitat degradation and the danger of becoming by-catch in fishing nets. If global warming submerges the atolls of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, then the main Hawaiian Islands will become even more critical to their survival. But they’ll still have to share the beaches with human bathers and surfers—a problem, since they’re notoriously solitary creatures and can be surly if disturbed. Messing with a monk seal on a beach is not a good idea for either humans or seals, Federal restrictions or no.

“Protecting coastal and marine habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal is also good for Hawai`i’s people, culture and economy,” noted Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of Conservation Council for Hawai`i. “The critical habitat rule does not restrict public access — people can still swim, surf, snorkel, fish and gather.”

“Preventing the monk seal from going extinct is not rocket science; we can do this,” believes Said Mike Gravitz, directs policy for the Marine Conservation Institute and heads its monk seal program: “The seals in the main Hawaiian Islands need critical habitat, NOAA has to be serious about implementing its own recovery plan, and we need to work with the communities and fishers in Hawaii to listen to their concerns and reduce any conflicts with the seals. If we lose the battle to save the Hawaiian monk seal, we’ll have only ourselves to blame.”

More information on the seals can be found here

Ching Foundation Sponsors “Inspired in Hawaii” Contest for Students

The Clarence T. C. Ching Foundation has announced its
Sixth Annual “Inspired in Hawaii” Essay, Poster and Video Contest
The contest encourages Hawaii’s students to “dream big and make Hawaii a better place.” This year’s contest, which is open to students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 who are current residents of the state of
Hawaii,  offers $10,000 in cash awards for winning students and their teachers.

Poster and Essay Division Awards:
First Place: $125 student, $50 teacher
Second Place: $100 student, $50 teacher
Third Place: $50 student, $50 teacher
Video Division Awards*:
First Place: $300 team, $100 teacher
Second Place: $250 team, $100 teacher
Third Place $200 team, $100 teacher
Fourth Place $150 team, $100 teacher
Fifth Place: $100 team, $100 teacher

Students may enter only one division.
Essay Division: Grades 6-12, individual
Poster Division: Grades K-12, individual
Video Division: Grades 7-12, individual or team entries

Each entry must identify an existing problem in Hawaii and offer a thoughtful solution to the problem. Go to the Web site for rules, entry forms, prizes, judging criteria and information on Clarence T.C. Ching. You can also see last year’s winning entries there.
Entries must be received no later than 4:00 p. m. on Friday, November 6, 2015. Mail or deliver entries to:

ATTN: Inspired in Hawaii Contest, The Clarence T. C. Ching Foundation, 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 770, Honolulu, HI 96813

If there’s a question that isn’t answered at the Web site, contestants can email contest coordinator saraplatte@mac.com.

Award winners will be contacted through their schools and invited to an awards program in February 2016.

Brush Fire Forces Evacuation of Kawaihae, Spencer Beach Park

The Hawaii Fire Department reports that the brush fires in the Kawaihae area continue to burn out of control.  Due to gusty wind conditions and heavy smoke the following area  evacuations remain as a precaution:

  • Spencer Beach Park
  • Kawaihae Village area

The Evacuation Center at the Thelma Parker Gym has been moved to the Waimea Community Center and will remain open until further notice.

In addition, the following road closure is in effect:

  • Kawaihae Road is closed from the intersection of Queen Kaahumanu Highway to the  Akoni Pule Highway Junction at the Kawaihae Harbor.  Kohala traffic on Akoni Pule is being detoured through the Kohala Ranch Subdivision.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area and to use alternate routes if possible.

Commentary: “Safe and Accurate” Food Bill Isn’t What it Seems

Editor’s Note:  Rep. Mark Takai has sent this letter out to constituents on his e-mail list.  We pass it on to you.  –AM

Aloha Friend,

This week, the House will consider H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.  Under the guise of consumer protection, this bill would do nothing more than limit the ability of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products.  While it includes vague language regarding voluntary labeling, it would also nullify current state laws that regulate GMO foods.  I simply cannot support this bill. 

The people of our nation deserve to have consumer clarity, and be able to make their own decisions on the type of food they buy.   In order to meet this goal, I have joined with Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04) to cosponsor legislation that will return transparency to the food labeling process.  Along with many of my democratic colleagues, I support H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.  This legislation would enhance GMO labeling by creating a national standard to label food products developed by the FDA.

To date, our nation does not have a uniform system in place that allows consumers to make educated decisions. For nearly 15 years, we have had voluntary labeling; however, standards often differ and lead to variances in the definition of natural and GMO products. Clearly, this process must be improved. 

 Enacting legislation like H.R. 913 would harmonize U.S. policy with the 64 other countries that require the labeling of GMO foods, including countries possessing some of our largest agricultural markets.  This would make it easier for producers, processors, and packagers to comply with labeling requirements, and in turn help export our products around the world.

 If you have any questions regarding my stance on GMOs please feel free to contact my office  here .

Mahalo,

Mark Takai

Pahoa Student Does Plankton Research

Juniper Ozbolt of Pahoa, HI recently completed the spring semester of her sophomore year of high school at Coastal Studies for Girls in Freeport, Maine. Coastal Studies for Girls is a Semester School for 10th grade girls. The school features rigorous academic courses and an integrated marine science and leadership curriculum based on fieldwork and experiential place-based learning.

 While at CSG, Juniper completed a scientific research project examining the diversity within the phytoplankton community during the spring phytoplankton bloom. Juniper and her research team collected data at several sites, structured their study and analyzed their data with the guidance of CSG Marine Ecosystems instructor, Kerry Whittaker PhD. The girls each prepared a scientific paper explaining their findings. They documented the significance of their findings by pointing to research indicating that the oceans’ phytoplankton populations are the crucial building blocks of the ocean food supply and also produce over 50% of the oxygen on the planet. They presented their research results in a public forum held at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine. The title of Juniper ‘s presentation was: Phyto Zoo: a Look at the Spring Bloom. The other Spring 2015 Coastal Studies for Girls Research Topics included: Human-Driven Ocean Acidification Decimates the Base of Marine Life; Microplastics: A Macro Problem; Invasive species on the Coast of Maine: Green and Asian Shore Crabs; and Hypoxia in coastal waters.

 The presentations were live streamed to viewers across the globe. In addition to producing original marine research during her semester at Coastal Studies for Girls, Juniper also completed a semester-long leadership course, earned honors credits in Literature, History, Math and Foreign Language and traveled with her classmates on a 10-day expedition along the Maine coast and islands. Juniper describes her CSG Semester with these words, “I was encouraged to be my authentic self at CSG.

 Each semester, Coastal Studies for Girls accepts 15 girls from across the country to live in the farmhouse on the shores of Casco Bay. Together they create a community of engaged learners dedicated to observation, inquiry, connection and action.

 Juniper returns to Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science in the fall as a junior. To learn more about Coastal Studies for Girls, or for information on applying, please visit www.coastalstudiesforg

Free Talks Offered on Roundup and Public Health

Seeds of Truth and GMO-Free Hawaii Island are sponsoring a talk on “Connecting the Dots: the rise of Glyphosate, the active ingredient I the commonly used herbicide ‘Roundup’ and the link to the increase in diseases” with Drs. Stephanie Seneff and Judy Carman, on Saturday, July 25, 1:30-5 p.m. at Tutu’s House in Waimea; on Sunday, July 26, 6-9 p.m. at NHERC’s headquarters on 45-539 Plumeria St. in Honoka’a; and at the Kona County Council Chambers and at 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway in Kailua-Kona. Dr. Senoff, a researcher at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has traced links between Glyphosate and the rise of diseases such as obesity, Alzheimer’s, allergies and autism. Dr. Carman, who holds a PhD in medicine, nutritional biochemistry and metabolic regulation, was involved in some of the first independent animal feeding studies on the to investigate the safety of GMO crops in regard to human health. The talks are free, and pupus will be served.

A petition for the County of Hawaii to stop spraying Roundup on public roadsides has been started here.

Biologists to US: Keep your Word on Kaho’olawe

The Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, meeting in Honolulu, has passed a resolution “expressing concerns” about the U.S. failure to completely clear unexploded ordinance from the island of Kaho’olawe and to restore the island’s habitat.

“When President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10436 reserving the right of the US military to use Kaho‘olawe as a training facility, it clearly stated several obligations including the “eradication of cloven hooved animals” and, upon return of the island to Hawai‘i, to “render such area…reasonably safe for human habitation, without cost to the Territory.” These obligations have not been met. Initial funds were allocated by Congress only after considerable lobbying by former Sen. Daniel Akaka,” noted the organization’s press release, which added,  ” These funds ($400 million), meant to rid the island of unexploded ordnance, fell woefully short of the amount necessary to meet Pres. Eisenhower’s promise.  The Navy cleared ordnance from 75 percent of the land’s surface, not the 100 percent agreed upon. Furthermore, the Navy was to clear ordnance from 25 percent of the ground subsurface, to a depth of four feet; however, only 9 percent has been cleared.  Even this does not address the restoration of the destroyed native Hawaiian ecosystems.”

“The failure of the military to remediate and restore the island indicates the continued failure of the US government to fulfill its commitments, particularly when it comes to the rights of indigenous peoples,” stated by Jose MV Fragoso, Co-Chair of the ATBC Conservation Committee.

The organization also pointed out that “Native Hawaiians are being denied meaningful involvement in the process because funding and oversight of the island is still held by the State, not by the cultural group that succeeded in getting the island returned, nor by the people for whom the island is being held in trust. “

 

Climate Change Expert to Speak at Environment Hawaii Anniversary Celebration

Chip Fletcher, one of the nation’s foremost experts in climate change and its effects on coasts, will be the featured speaker on August 14, when Environment Hawai`i celebrates its 25th anniversary with a dinner, live music by JazzX2, and a silent auction featuring works by local craftspeople and artists.

Fletcher, who has authored a number of books, including Living on the Shores of Hawai`i and Climate Change: What the Science Tells Us, will speak on “Climate Crisis: Review and Update.” He serves as the associate dean for academic affairs and a full professor at the UH-Manoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology,

For a quarter century, Environment Hawai`i has brought its readers award-winning environmental investigative reporting.  The monthly non-commercial newsletter is supported by subscriptions and donations from readers.

Reservations are needed by Tuesday, August 11. For more information: call the Environment Hawai`i office at 934-0115; email ptummons@gmail.com; or visit http://www.environment-hawaii.org.

Shoe Made from Fishing Debris Kicks Off “Parley for the Ocean” Talks

recycled-fish-net-ocean-trash-sneakers-adidas-4The UN-affiliated environmental organization Parley for the Ocean has teamed up with Adidas Shoe to create a prototype running shoe that it claims is made from recycled plastic ocean debris. The shoe, made from materials collected off the coast of West Africa by a Sea Shepherd expedition to shadow illegal trawling activity there, features a surface made from blue plastic monofilament used in fishing lines and netting worldwide. It made its public debut at the New York kickoff party for the UN-sponsored Parley for the Ocean talks, which bring together public and private sector participants in an effort to turn around the rapid decline of the world’s oceans.

“2048 seems to be the overall accepted deadline [according to scientists] for the collapse of all commercial fisheries, and already by 2025 all the coral reef ecosystems in the world will be gone. Leading environmentalists already see the end of most sea life happening in 6–16 years,” notes the Parley for the Oceans Web site. “Diminishment of biodiversity in our ocean is the single greatest threat to the survival of humanity. With diminishment of species in our oceans comes diminishment of the quality of life for humanity. What are the causes of this continuing mass extinction and imminent threat to our collective survival?”

The site notes several major factors in the oceans’ decline, including commercial overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, and pollution with plastic and chemicals. Plastics have become a major problem; they make up a large part of the Texas-sized “garbage patch” of floating debris that has formed in the Pacific between California and Hawaii, for instance, and local groups annually haul tons of it from remote Kamilo beach on the Big Island, where it has actually begun to form plastic sand.

“Artists, musicians, actors, directors, fashion designers, journalists, architects, product inventors, and scientists have the tools to mold the reality we live in and to develop alternative business models and ecologically sensible products to give us earthlings an alternative choice, an everyday option to change something,” it notes. “To succeed, we need to find ways to synchronize the economic system of mankind with the ecosystem of nature. And make environmental protection fiscally lucrative for pacesetting major companies. Parley has been created to accelerate a process of change that is already in progress.”

The new shoe, whose innovative design even got spread in the avante-garde art site thisiscollosalcom, is just one small example of what can be don toward that “synchronization.” A company called GStar RAW, in collaboration with musician Pharrell Williams, already produces a line of “denim” clothing made from fibers extracted from marine debris. Parley for the Ocean founder Cyrill Gutsch told the Web site takepart.com, “Realistically we will retrieve around 10,000 tons of plastic this year from shorelines and by retrieving discarded fishing nets, which we do in collaboration with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.”

Takepart.com also reported that Parley, working Sea Shepherd, has “already started collecting plastic in China, Australia, Hawaii, and the East and West Coasts of the United States. Collection will begin soon in Brazil, Mexico, the Maldives, Greece, France, and the United Kingdom.”

An Open Letter to the Governor re Mauna Kea

 

Dear Governor Ige,

Because we are Hawaiian Cultural Practitioners and are fairly well-acquainted with Mauna Kea, on April 8, 2015, Paul Neves and I guided you and your party to the summit of Mauna Kea. I have made pilgrimages to the summit a few times since that momentous trip up there with you.

One of my primary activities of my cultural practice is to walk in the footsteps of my ancestors – and i have walked over many parts of Mauna Kea, including having my cultural hiking group – Huaka’i i na ‘Aina Mauna – in 2002 – hike from sea level at Koholalele Landing, at Kukaiau, on the Hamakua coast, to the summit of Mauna Kea, following the Umikoa Trail, then descending the Skyline Trail, crossing Pohakuloa Training Area and following the Kona Highway to the vicinity of Pu’uAnahulu, then hiking the Pu’uAnahulu-Kiholo Trail back to sea level at Luahinewai, at Kiholo Bay on the Kona coast.

I am desirous to ascend Mauna Kea again – but I hear that you have illegally placed certain restrictions on cultural practitioners (such as me) to be able to go up the Mountain only at 1 p.m. on a daily basis in a group of less than 10.  And I understand that the reason for this restriction is that you have declared the road to be unsafe, making it a public safety issue.  But what I don’t understand is that the observatory people have access to go up and down the Mountain.- with no limitations.  It seems to me that if the road is unsafe for cultural practitioners, that it would be unsafe for astronomers and the public.  Do they sign disclaimers or something of that sort – to be able to do what they are being allowed to do?  If so, I’m willing to sign a disclaimer too.  In other words, I’m willing to disclaim the risk of using the road that you have declared to be unsafe.  However, I hear that there are no restrictions for cultural practitioners who are willing to hike.

Well, back to my wanting to ascend the Mountain.

Despite having a hypertensive condition, and suffering from a side effect of gout, I thought I’d visit the summit area on Sunday, leaving the HalePohaku Visitors’ Center area at 5 a.m.  As you are a relatively young man compared to my being 79 years old – I would love to have you share the hike up the Mountain with me.  We can do this by ourselves – and you can give your bodyguards the day off – as there won’t be any of those “unruly,” young Protectors on the road that is being restricted to them.  And since they will be escorted up the mountain by one of the Mauna Kea rangers when they can come up at 1 p.m., things should be quite secure.  And since there will be just you and me – we’ll be able to enjoy the spirituality and serenity of the Mountain in peace and quiet.  Lake Waiau should be at its shimmering best.  Even if we take our time moving at a leisurely pace, going up to an altitude of 13,000 feet, we should be back to the Visitors’ Center before 10 p.m.

There is only one problem – and that is that if my feet swell excessively because of my medications and subsequent water retention – that I’ll have to abort any further ascent at that point – and start down.  Will that be OK with you?

Can I look forward to your timely appearance at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning as we engage in this wonderful cultural (we don’t have to call it religious) activity?  Please make sure, though, that you have good hiking boots, some energetic food and snacks and warm clothes (in case the weather should turn a bit cold).

Thanks.  I’m looking forward to spend a very nice and pleasant day with you.

ku ching

Commentary: Sen. Lorraine Inouye on the Future of Renewable Energy

On the Island of Hawai‘i, where I live, I have witnessed the best of what renewable energy has to offer – geothermal, wind, water and sun. I was a member of the State Senate when the original statute on the renewable energy portfolio standards, Act 272, was approved in 2001. At that time, we were the only state to propose such a program. As the recently appointed Chair of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee, I look forward to learning what other technologies and resources are available to help wean ourselves off fossil fuels and to showcase to the world that the state of Hawai‘i is a leader when it comes to embracing the power of clean energy.
That is why I was encouraged when Gov. David Ige last week signed into law with great and well-earned fanfare House Bill 623 (Act 97), which sets new targets for Hawai‘i’s renewable energy portfolio standards. These standards were strengthened in 2004, 2006 and 2009. The new law now takes the standards to a more aggressive goal of 100 percent by the year 2045. Hawai‘i, once again, is blazing trails when it comes to setting targets that are good for the environment and good for the state overall.
I commend all State Legislators including the bill’s sponsor, Representative Chris Lee and Senator Mike Gabbard, for shepherding the legislation through the process. These are aggressive goals and the right thing to do.
But then I learned of a bit of irony.
Within a couple of days of the signing of the bill, the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission (PUC) took adverse action against eight solar farms – one was denied and seven were deferred. These projects are designed to add 240 megawatts of clean solar energy to the grid. But the PUC’s decisions put these projects at risk of going away. That’s 240 megawatts of solar energy — which could get us 6 percent closer to the goal — that could simply disappear.
Why? Did the PUC think these projects were not worthy?
Not at all.
What the PUC signaled in its orders was that Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) did not do its job in addressing the commission’s questions and concerns regarding costs and benefits to the state. In other words, HECO’s unresponsiveness to the PUC was holding us back from achieving our renewable energy goals.
I am glad that the PUC took the steps necessary to hold HECO accountable, and the good news is that the PUC’s efforts seem to be working. Subsequent filings by HECO provide the analysis necessary to show these 240 megawatts can help us achieve our renewable goals and help lower HECO’s electricity rates at the same time.
Things are heading in the right direction but we need to keep moving. Any further delay will place our renewable energy future – and projects like these – in jeopardy. A dire consequence of a delay: missing a critical deadline by the end of 2016 in order to qualify for federal tax credits. The tax credits are what allow the projects to offer unprecedentedly low prices to HECO’s customers. If the projects aren’t started in time to meet the deadline, they might never be started.
Not to mention, Hawai’i’s business reputation will be tarnished when investors wanting to help finance clean energy projects will simply go somewhere else. This puts a chilling effect on future investment. Companies wanting to come here could again say, “It’s too difficult to do business in Hawai‘i.”
Also at stake: hundreds of local construction jobs. This means less money in the pockets of carpenters, electricians, heavy equipment operators and other construction workers. This is the cash they use to pay mortgages and rents, food and other bills.
With the higher renewable portfolio standards, we need to send a strong message that we welcome more clean energy investment to the state — especially when the investment helps lower and stabilize our electricity rates. That’s why I’m asking the Commission to move quickly. Let us start by giving the green light to solar projects that will move Hawai‘i forward towards a more sustainable future.

State Senator Lorraine R. Inouye represents Senate District 4, which includes Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa and Kona. She is the chair of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee.

Ige Signs Renewable Energy Bills

Governor David Ige has signed  four energy bills,  including one that could make Hawaii the first state in the Union to require utilities to generate 100 percent of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources. That bill, HB623, will phase in the use of renewable electricity sources until 100 percent of electrical utilities’ power output is generated from such sources by the end of 2045. Other bills would require the University of Hawaii to use renewable energy, would make it easier for consumers to purchase solar-generated power from sites away from their homes, and would create the post of state administrator to promote hydrogen-based energy technologies. The bills now become law.
“As the most oil dependent state in the nation, Hawai’i spends roughly $5 billion a year on foreign oil to meet its energy needs. Making the transition to renewable, indigenous resources for power generation will allow us to keep more of that money at home, thereby improving our economy, environment and energy security,” Ige said.
“Setting a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard will help drive investment in Hawai’i’s growing clean energy sector,” Luis Salaveria, Hawai’i’s director of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, who noted “Our commitment to clean energy has already attracted entrepreneurs and businesses from around the world.”
“Renewable energy projects are already producing cheaper power than new fossil fuel projects in Hawai’i, and it’s only going to get cheaper as renewable technology advances, unlike fossil fuels which will only grow more expensive as they become more difficult to extract from a shrinking supply,” said Representative Chris Lee, Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee. “The faster we move toward renewable energy, the faster we can stop exporting billions from our local economy to import expensive fossil fuels.”
Ige also signed bill SB1050, which will set up a framework to allow renters, condominium owners, and others to purchase electricity generated at an off-site energy facility, such as a large-scale solar farm. The new law will also provide relief to homeowners and businesses located on highly saturated circuits that cannot accommodate additional photovoltaic installations.
“As of March 2015, there are about 56,000 PV/Solar systems on rooftops. These folks are saving tremendously on their electricity bills. That’s great, but what about the 44 percent of Hawai’i residents who don’t own their homes? And those without roof space? SB1050 allows people to form a hui, find a piece of land, and purchase or lease however many PV panels they want and then get a credit on their electricity bill for the energy they produce. We spend $3-5 billion annually buying fossil fuels; this is an awesome concept that will keep some of the money here to help our economy,” commented Senator Mike Gabbard, who chaired the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy when bill SB1050 was created.

“Bullet Hole” at Mauna Kea Observatory was Made by a Bolt

The “bullet hole” in the Subaru Telescope’s door was actually made by a bolt, and the staff knew about  six months ago.

The alleged bullet hole was widely  reported by the media, including the Honolulu Star Advertiser, two days ago, after after an unidentified source reported the hole to the Hawaii County Police Department.   But when a police detective investigated the scene on Monday, June 8,  he determined that the hole in a door to the observatory was caused by a bolt from an adjacent wall and that it had been there for approximately six months.

The police said that the case the case of the bullet-pierced observatory “will be closed as unfounded.”