About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs July 24, 2011

Pasture land with trees between Na`alehu and Pahala would be turned into a grass farm for the biofuel refinery.
Photo by Michael Martin-Neal
A NEW BUILDING CODE was adopted unanimously last week by the County Council and includes a map of wind-designated areas that determine how tough your new house has to be to stand up in storms. Homes are categorized as fully enclosed, partially enclosed or open. Partially enclosed and open houses have to be built with expensive high impact resistance glass, shutters, or a system to put up protection, like plywood boards, to save the houses from hurricane force winds. Otherwise you have to build a safe room somewhere in the house. There are also new rules requiring insulation. However, exceptions will be made, such as allowing Volcano residents to be exempt from insulation in the ceilings should they want hot air to circulate from the attic to the living area for heating. New rules severely restrict single wall construction. 

Lava could soon overflow the rim of Pu`u `O`o crater.
Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
LAVA IS ABOUT TO OVERFLOW the southwest flank of Pu`u `O`o on the east rift of Hawai`i’s Kilauea volcano, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s latest report. Park visitors at Jaggar Museum, looking at the glow in Halema`uma`u Crater, have been able to see a glow shining up into the sky at night that is coming from Pu`u O`o. Scientists predict the spillover, which would stream lava from the Pu`u `O`o Crater for the first time since the Kamoamoa fissure erupted and halted lava flowing toward the ocean. 

THE BOTTOMFISH WORKSHOP will be held tomorrow at the University of Hawai`i campus in Hilo in Room K-127 of the Kanakaole Bldg. from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The workshops will feature interactive booths with information on the new state annual bottomfish vessel registration and new state commercial bottomfish reporting requirements. Changes to the bottomfish Deep-7 annual quota from a total allowable catch to an annual catch limit and what they mean will be presented, along with information on federal non-commercial bottomfish permit and reporting. A forum will be conducted on options for non-commercial fishery data collection.

HERE ARE MORE QUESTIONS & ANSWERS FROM `AINA KOA PONO, leading up to the public hearings scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 2 on its proposed refinery between Pahala and Wood Valley and its proposed biofuel farm between Na`alehu and Pahala.

`Aina Koa Pono engineer
Alexander Causey
`Aina Koa Pono appears to have a lack of expertise, specifically agronomists.
 The company says it is bringing on board a number of subject matter experts. “We are working with the Hawai`i Agricultural Research Center in developing optimal varieties of feedstock for our plant.” The company says it has retained John Carroll, an agronomist and Mike Thieman, an expert in sustainable biomass production, to help with the agricultural aspects of the project. It also says it has retained John Cross and James Cuddihy, “both of whom were involved in the sugar business in Ka’u for many years with the Ka’u Sugar operation and will provide significant insight. We are prepared to retain other expertise as required,” `Aina Koa Pono says. 


Does `Aina Koa Pono have an agricultural plan for the project?
 `Aina Koa Pono says it has a three-step plan that is being developed and will include significant input from local farmers and ranchers. `Aina Koa Pono also says it has a written protocol that has been agreed to with the Hawai`i Islands Land Trust “that guarantees there will be environmentally sound land management practices followed.


Why has `Aina Koa Pono proposed several different types of grasses to use as feedstock?
 The company says it wants to select a non-invasive grass that meets its energy needs and the nutritional needs of local ranchers. It is planning test plots to determine optimal varieties and methods. “Existing invasive and cultivated biomass will gradually be harvested, while other grasses and trees are cultivated where appropriate,” the company says.

What is the environmental impact? `Aina Koa Pono says that “the project in and of itself benefits the environment by reducing green house gases and CO2 emissions.” It says that the carbon dioxide from its facility will be absorbed by the biomass feedstock crops. 

`Aina Koa Pono co-founder
Melvin Chiogioji
Assuming some of the construction workers come from off-island (or from outside Ka`u and don’t want a long daily commute), where will they be housed? And how will that impact the affordability of housing for local families? How will other impacts of a significant, temporary increase in population be mitigated? 
`Aina Koa Pono says it will engage local sources to the maximum extent to perform the construction. “This project is small enough that the number of people potentially brought in from outside the island to assist in construction could be housed locally and would not increase the population in any significant way,” it says. The company says it also plans to hire Big Island-based contractors for much of the construction work.


During both construction and operation, how much traffic, noise, odor, waste, and emissions will be produced, and how will they be mitigated?
 “Best management practices will be used as required by permits,” the company says. “It is our intention to set the biorefinery back from Wood Valley Road and expand a natural rise to partially block the view of the facility from the road,” the company says.

`Aina Koa Pono
Kenton Eldridge
What roads will be used, what improvements will be required, and what arrangements are being made with the roads’ private owners?
 `Aina Koa Pono says that private roads are in the lessor’s lease, and that it will maintain those roads. The company says it plans to develop a private new access road connecting Wood Valley Road with Highway 11, so that truck traffic can by-pass Pahala. 

How will the biofuel be safely stored and transported? `Aina Koa Pono says it will design and construct fuel storage facilities “as currently done in the U.S. The permitting process will assure compliance with all safety considerations, including county fire department approvals.