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.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ka'u News Briefs Sept. 15, 2011

`Aina Koa Pono plans to create a biofuel farm between Pahala and Na`alehu. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
CUTTING KA`U’S HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DISTRICT IN HALF heard strong objections from community members at both public hearings on elections redistricting this week.
     Ocean View resident Rell Woodward noted that Ocean View would lose its long time champion Rep. Bob Herkes and said, “Our voices will be reduced to a whisper,” according to the Stephens Media Group.
     The hearings, held in Hilo and Kona on Tuesday and Wednesday, also attracted opposition to inclusion of non-residential military personnel the census used to determine how many people live in each voting district. Herkes earlier queried attorney general David Louie about O`ahu gaining more representation than Neighbor Islands since Honolulu is where most of the military live. Including non-resident military could mean the Big Island would lose the opportunity to have a fourth state senator for this fastest growing county in the state. Louie said that the commission could end up in court if it includes the military.
     Gov. Neil Abercrombie said he supports the exclusion of part-time residents, such as the military. Sen. Malama Solomon delivered a message to the commission from the governor, saying: "The population growth on the Big Island will literally be ignored and in effect non-residents substituted for them in the guise of phantom voters." Abercrombie wrote that "to undermine or deny Neighbor Island population growth for redistricting purposes is discriminatory on its face."
     Several attorneys on this island and the senator threatened to sue the commission.

Jay Fidell. Photo from 
ThinkTech Hawai`i
`AINA KOA PONO’S PROPOSED REFINERY between Pahala and Wood Valley and its proposed use of lands between Pahala and Na`alehu to grow biofuel crops has drawn more commentary. An opinion piece in the Honolulu Star Advertiser came from Jay Fidell, whose ThinkTech Hawai`i company is partially funded by Hawaiian Electric Company. Fidell wrote: “Ten years after 9/11 is a time for introspection and rededication. Hawai`i should do that, too, not only about 9/11 but about how we can get going on a clean energy economy.
    “This is our biggest challenge and our biggest project. Some people think that it's a test of our state government, but it's really a test of all of us.… “We talked about clean energy in the 1980s then forgot about it when the price of oil went back down. In 2008, Gov. Linda Lingle rolled out the Clean Energy Initiative. Everyone was on board, alliances were made, foundations were formed and people danced in the street.
     “Now distraction is setting in. Big Wind and the cable have been seriously delayed. Even with the tax credits, photovoltaic is still less than 40 megawatts statewide. Ocean energy is still an experiment, OTEC is still decades away, geothermal is still a cultural issue, and we don't hear much about algae,” stated Fidell.
     Fidell states that "the `Aina Koa Pono project will grow biofuel for the grid. It will create jobs, provide locally grown fuel to run existing generators and keep the money at home. Yet there are those who oppose biofuel in our state. This is opposition for its own sake, and is an example of a phenomenon he calls “I-may-not-be-able-to-get-mine-but-I-can-certainly-stop-you-from-getting-yours.” He described another phenomenon holding back alternative energy as “the leave-me-alone phenomenon: we are not one state, but a group of self-interested islands.”
     Regarding Ka`u he wrote: “They say there's not enough room to grow biofuel here. How could that be when vast acreage has been fallow for years? There's room for both food and fuel in Hawai`i, just as there's a need for both. And while we rant over false controversies, we lose our options on both,” contended Fidell.

Shary Crocker  Photo from 
Tropical Trappings
SHARY CROCKER, of Na`alehu, wrote a letter of opposition to the Public Utilities Commission with a list of concerns: “Nowhere in the world is this scale of microwave depolymerization being used, or has ever been used. This has not been a proven technology for feasibility or efficiency,” she contended.
     “The environmental impacts to the air quality: We have had extreme vog alerts in that area and the past year extreme drought conditions. With reports of continued disruptive weather patterns due to climate changes, how will this exhaust from the 80-foot (refinery) stack…mix with the chemicals in the vog and effect humans that live in that area?” asked Crocker.
     “The environmental impact to the water: The land of Ka`u is well known for its cattle, farm and coffee plantations. Using chemical fertilization to grow the acres of mono crops, every day, year after year, could affect ground water wells of other farmers, animals, and households.
     “The environmental impact to public highways: How many trucks will be using the public highways to move fuel? The narrow, public highways that are already unsafe with the absence of safe shoulder pull offs?” Crocker wrote, “I pride my choice to live in Ka`u because of the natural open space, community support of conservation and care.”

ELEANOR ROBINSON sent in testimony saying, “I protest against the proposed `Aina Koa Pono bio oil refinery in the Pahala-Wood Valley area in Ka`u, District 6.” She contended that the project is “backed by military monies, and their intention is to use their product to fuel military jets. I do not support it also because it is not for Hawai`i Island people’s benefit, and could put the residents' health in jeopardy. I can barely afford my taxes, electric and utilities bills as it is. Raising taxes and my electric bill even more will be burdensome to me."

Barney Frazier opposes the the biofuel plant.
Photo from Ailani Orchards
BARNEY FRAZIER, of Wai`ohinu, who operates a farm where produce is sold from a roadside fruit stand on Hwy 11, also objected in testimony to the PUC. "The largest expense we have is our electric cost each month. I am totally against the proposed biofuel plant. This is an experimental endeavor," he said. "There are no biofuel operations that have been successful, and I would want HELCO to seek out more successful alternative, natural resources such as solar, wind and hydro. Let’s not waste time on experiments. Do what works now!!”

`AINA KOA PONO will hold a public meeting on its proposed refinery and biofuel farm next Monday, Sept. 19 at Pahala Community Center at 6:30 p.m.