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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Oct. 31, 2012

Ka`u resident Alison Yahna's testimony expressed concern about taking biomass "from the beautiful hills of Ka`u" to make biodiesel at a refinery above Pahala. Photo by Julia Neal
ERRONEOUS IS WHAT SEN. MALAMA SOLOMON called `Aina Koa Pono’s “claims that they are the only viable project moving at this time before the Public Utilities Commission.” The senator pointed to a geothermal energy docket before the PUC that has been open for 12 months. Solomon was testifying last night before the PUC at a public hearing in Kona. Ka`u residents who made the drive to Kealakehe High School noted that no hearings were planned for Ka`u, where AKP plans to build a diesel refinery and use 12,000 acres to harvest and grow feedstock for their operation. Alison Yahna, owner of an apiary and farm off South Point Road, said she spent $50 in fuel to drive her truck to the public meeting.
Sen. Malama Solomon
      Solomon said she supports Mayor Billy Kenoi’s opposition to the `Aina Koa Pono proposal and noted the mayor’s statement that the proposed fixed price for the biodiesel that AKP plans to manufacture would be “roughly $200 per barrel, more than double the current, going rate for crude oil."
      AKP partner Chris Eldridge said that the comparison isn’t accurate because diesel costs more than crude oil.
      Solomon said Hawaiian Electric Company “has refused to take action” on putting out a request for the further expansion of geothermal. “To my knowledge, HECO is blaming the PUC for not designating an Independent Observer to solve this dilemma. I am requesting that the PUC immediately retain an Independent Observer and expedite the geothermal Request for Proposals before December, so it can be rewarded by March 2013."
      Solomon attacked AKP’s claim that its project “will renew Ka`u, which has the largest unemployment and the greatest agricultural potential on the island. I disagree.” She said she agrees with the county’s new Baseline Study for Food Self-Sufficiency that identifies North and South Kohala, Hamakua, Hilo, and Puna – not Ka`u – as the highest potential areas for expanded agricultural production, in part based on existing infrastructure. Solomon said Puna has the largest unemployment – not Ka`u.
      The senator also objected to AKP’s proposed rate increases through surcharges. “This is unacceptable because it places the financial burden of the development of their project on the shoulders of residents and businesses,” she said.
PUC chair Mina Morita
      Solomon called AKP’s technology “highly questionable” and pointed to the mayor’s concern about “using Ka`u as a test site for this unproven technology. `Aina Koa Pono admits this technology has never been used in production on this scale. Also, studies have proven that the cost to produce biofuels will be significantly higher than eight to 12 cents a kilowatt-hour, the cost of geothermal energy.”
      The senator said “geothermal is the way to solve our energy crisis in Hawai`i. It is owned by the public and Native Hawaiians; it is a plentiful resource given to us by our Hawaiian gods and goddesses, Pele and her sisters, patron of the Hula and kinolau of our Hawaiian landscape; and this is a gift to the people of Hawai`i, Na Po`e O Hawai`i.” She said that, statutorily, geothermal is now a “renewable, indigenous, firm power. Imua Kakou, let us move forward.”

HAWAI`I STATE CONSUMER ADVOCATE JEFFREY ONO said he would like to know whether the community view “of the biodiesel supply contract would change if maybe all of the costs were born by O`ahu ratepayers and none of it by Big Island ratepayers.” He noted that the application is to charge customers on the Big Island and O`ahu for the the electric bill surcharge to pay for the biofuel. He also said the PUC could choose to change the contract so that only O`ahu residents would bear the higher cost.

Council member Brenda Ford
COUNCIL MEMBER BRENDA FORD testified against HELCO’s proposed 4.2 percent rate increase. “We need to get these rates down, and need you to protect us and not the shareholders,” she told the PUC. She asked whether highly paid utility executives took pay reductions and furlough days as government workers and teachers did during the recession. She said HELCO execs should not be getting bonuses. 

STATE REPRESENTATIVE DENNY COFFMAN, who is chairman of the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection, opposed the AKP contract, saying it will only allow HELCO to keep the obsolete power plant working longer to make more profits. He urged the PUC to wait for planning for the most affordable and efficient renewable energies before committing to any contract that would raise electric bills.

ANOTHER TESTIFIER called the AKP plan “destruction of 12,000 acres in Ka`u.”

ALISON YAHNA, OF KA`U, TALKED ABOUT THE TREACHEROUS, winding road between Ka`u and Keahole power plant. During her drive to the hearing, she said she saw a pedestrian lying on the side of the road who had just been hit by a car. She urged the PUC to reject the AKP plan to take 900 tons of biomass a day “ from the beautiful hills of Ka`u to put into the jaws” of the microwave refinery. She said the monocrop would replace forage for pollinators and food for birds. The biologist said, “This is a cost that is not even measurable; it is a cost of life.”

MARION "G-DOG" GERUSCHAT, A MUSICIAN FROM KA`U, TESTIFIED, “This plant does not seem to make a lot of sense,” putting it on the southern end of the island. “Grow it where you use it,” she said.

Chris Manfredi
GERI CUDDIHY, OF LOUISIANA, said she disagreed with testimony Monday night that Ka`u people are doing well. She again called them impoverished and pointed to unemployment statistics. She said 24 percent of people in Pahala live in poverty. She pointed to the success Ka` u Coffee farmers and said they are on month-to-month leases and “their land is up for sale.” She claimed that AKP’s biodiesel will be better than oil because it will emit no dioxins, no nitrous oxide and reduce greenhouse gases by more that 80 percent. 

KA`U RESIDENTS ALSO TESTIFIED at the public meeting in Hilo Monday evening.

CHRIS MANFREDI, MANAGER OF LAND where much Ka`u Coffee is grown, said, “We are on the path for a diversified agricultural economy that will not repeat the mistakes of the past, of mono-cropping and boom-and-bust-cycles.”

Earl Louis
EARL LOUIS REFERRED to a sign put up near the proposed site of AKP’s refinery by the Olson Trust that says “Malama `Aina.” He said, “Malama `aina means you’re going to take care of the land and not desecrate it.” He encouraged the trust to keep its word. 

WALK-IN VOTING CONTINUES through Saturday at Aupuni Center Conference Room in Hilo, West Hawai`i Civic Center’s Community Room in Kona and Waimea Community Center on Kawaihae Road. Registered voters with photo ID can vote at any of these polling places. Call Hawai`i County Elections Office at 961-8277 for more information.

MAILE YAMANAKA PRESENTS her monthly program at Volcano Art Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park on Friday. She presents Hamakua in Myth, Chant, Dance & Song from 11a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Hula, the Art of Hawaiian Dance begins at 1 p.m., and Keiki Hula, is from 3 – 4 p.m. 937-4249.

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS NOW OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Oct. 30, 2012

Mayor Billy Kenoi listed displacement of cattle operations to grow biomass crops as one reason why he opposes the `Aina Koa Pono biofuels project.
TESTIMONY FROM ABOUT 30 HAWAI`I ISLAND RESIDENTS before the Public Utilities Commission in Hilo last night overwhelmingly opposed a 20-year, fixed rate contract between `Aina Koa Pono and Hawai`i Electric Light Co. Most speakers focused on the proposed hike in electric bills that would support a refinery near Wood Valley Road to produce diesel that would be trucked to Kona to a power plant. Most Ka`u residents testified on land use, lifestyle and the emerging small business economy.
Guy Enriques
      The only Ka`u resident who supported the AKP proposal was Guy Enriques, of Punalu`u, a former County Council member, volleyball coach and founder of community group `O Ka`u Kakou. OKK is an organization with which `Aina Koa Pono representatives have met to explain its plan to hand out $250,000 per year in a community benefits package after their refinery is up and running. Enriques said he was speaking “on behalf of `Aina Koa Pono” and that he recently visited their experimental microwave depolymerization unit in North Carolina. AKP plans to bring such a unit to a site along Wood Valley Road. He said it looked like the Micro Dee unit would work. He said he sees the proposed electric bill increase in the `Aina Koa Pono contract as “an investment in the future” since fossil fuel prices are predicted to continue to rise.
      Enriques said this morning that he has wanted to visit a working microwave unit prior to AKP bringing one to the Big Island. During an `Aina Koa Pono meeting in Pahala last year, he volunteered to visit any place where a microwave depolymerization unit is in operation. Other community members also asked where such an operation could be visited anywhere in the world. `Aina Koa Pono recently contacted Enriques and sponsored his trip to North Carolina, he said. According to Enriques, the Micro Dee unit was not in full production, and feedstock, including garbage, was being made into pellets through a separate microwave process. Pellets were going into the Micro Dee, and diesel was dripping out the end, he said.
James Cuddihy
      John Cross is a land manager for Olson Trust, owner of 8,000 acres between Wood Valley and Na`alehu which AKP says it has leased for 35 years for its refinery, for cutting trees and brush, and for growing biofuel crops. He testified that he does not want to see electric bills go up. However, he pointed to test crops for biofuel feedstock on plots along Wood Valley Road. He talked about his experience growing sugar cane and said he hopes the plan will work to reduce Hawai`i’s dependency on fossil fuel.
      James Cuddihy, Jr., a former mill superintendent who left the state when the Ka`u sugar company shut down in 1996, has been working for more than a year with AKP to gain community support. His wife Geri has been meeting privately with small groups of Pahala residents. They both testified in favor of AKP last night, with James Cuddihy describing the old sugar town as degraded and in need of the kind of economic development that AKP promises.
Bobby Gomes 
      In support of AKP stimulating new business in Pahala, Geri Cuddihy testified to the lack of a restaurant. (A California man bought the former Tex Drive-In. The restaurant went bankrupt and is now being considered for a Long’s drugstore). Sobbing and testifying to the jobs AKP promises, she brought up suicides in the community, listing them one-by-one, down to the details of a self-inflicted shooting and a hanging, inferring that such tragedies have something to do with the sugar company going out of business 16 years ago.
      Retired police officer Bobby Gomes objected. He said, “I can cry, too,” and that the people of Ka`u are doing fine and are happy. He and others testifiers pointed to the emergence of small businesses to replace the plantation, including the dozens of Ka`u Coffee growers who are winning international awards and ranchers producing meat for the local market. Testifiers described Ka`u residents as independent, strong and different than other communities around Hawai`i with their hunting, fishing, ranching and farming.
Ron Self
      Many talked about the question of whether to use good farmlands in Ka`u for biofuel crops or for food production. However, Steve Shropshire, a land developer and farmer north of Hilo, noted an abundance of unused farmland around the island.
      Regarding the proposed electric bill hikes, Wood Valley attorney and farmer Ron Self said, “What is really important is that they are trying to finance (the refinery and biofuel farm) on the backs of the ratepayers.” State Sen. Lorraine Inouye also opposed the AKP proposal based on proposed electric rate hikes, as did geothermal proponent and farmer Richard Ha, Shipman Industrial park president Bill Walters, and attorney and geothermal proponent Mililani Trask and others. “HELCO has come to expect that, whenever they ask for an increase, they’re going to get it automatically rubber-stamped,” Trask said.
Sen. Lorraine Inouye
      “Moani Keala Akaka said, “Look at the highway robbery HELCO and others have been getting away with.”
      Several testifiers noted that the hearing was not being held in Ka`u, making it difficult for residents of the area to give their opinions. 
      See more in tomorrow’s Ka`u News Briefs. Another public meeting takes place tonight at 6 p.m. at Kealakehe High School Cafeteria in Kona.
     The deadline to submit public testimony to the PUC is Nov. 30. Letters can be emailed to hawaii.puc@hawaii.gov. or mailed to 465 South King Street, #103, Honolulu, HI  96813.

MAYOR BILLY KENOI opposed the `Aina Koa Pono biofuel project for Ka`u yesterday, saying, “Ultimately, there is no benefit to the people of the Island of Hawai`i.” His comments came from an interview with West Hawai`i Today reporter Erin Miller. Kenoi told her: “This looks like one of those deals, after 10, 20 years, we ask how did we let that happen?” Kenoi talked about the county’s concern with the proposed hike in electric bills and the impact on residents who could face not only higher bills at home and work but higher county water bills connected to the cost of using electricity to run pumps and other water department facilities. Residents could also end up with higher property taxes to pay for higher electric bills for other county operations. The mayor said earlier that the electric bill for the county was going from $30 million to $40 million a year.
       Kenoi told West Hawai`i Today that the fixed price of the biodiesel that HELCO would purchase from `Aina Koa Pono could be $200 a barrel, twice the going rate. The exact amount, however, is unknown, as neither `Aina Koa Pono nor HELCO are willing to release the price to the public. The mayor told the reporter that the reasoning for the fixed cost is based on projections that oil costs will skyrocket. “But on an island that now has, according to HELCO’s own figures, 49 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources anyway, Kenoi said the county can no longer afford to pursue energy technologies that don’t drop electricity rates,” reports West Hawai`i Today.
Richard Lim
      “Clearly, we’re not against new technology, against innovation. With this proposal, there’s very little in it to encourage the County of Hawai`i, the residents to support it,” the mayor told West Hawai`i Today.
      According to the story, “Kenoi also questioned using Ka`u as a test site for microwave catalytic depolymerization technology, which `Aina Koa Pono proposes using, noting the technology has never been used in production-scale operations. Other concerns include displacing cattle operations from about 10,000 acres in Ka`u to grow the biomass crop to be turned into biodiesel and that `Aina Koa Pono has not yet specified which crop it will use for the project,” the story says.
      The story also points out the `Aina Koa Pono connection with Richard Lim, the director of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, which is also a participant in the case before the PUC. Lim is a co-founder of Sennet Capital with `Aina Koa Pono chair Kenton Eldridge. Sennet lists `Aina Koa Pono as one of its Transactions, and Lim is listed on the Sennet website as an advisor. See more at www.westhawaiitoday.com.

`AINA KOA PONO IS CIRCULATING RESULTS OF A SURVEY of 303 Hawai`i Island residents. The survey was conducted by SMS Research and Marketing, of Honolulu. AKP lists SMS as one of its partners on its website, ainakoapono.com.
      SMS Research found that only 10 percent of those interviewed knew about the `Aina Koa Pono project when asked on an unaided basis. After a description of the project was provided, 56 percent stated they were in favor of the project as compared to 11 percent opposed. Another 33 percent said they did not know enough about the project.
      “Hawai`i Island residents were surveyed because we wanted to get a sense of the level of acceptance and support for the Ka`u project,” said AKP partner Chris Eldridge. “What we learned was that while there’s support, we need to do more education and outreach.”
      Surveyors say areas of support for `Aina Koa Pono’ project include safety, keeping money in the state, additional jobs, revitalization of Hawai`i’s agricultural industry and reduction of electric bills.
      Concerns listed by the surveyors include the perception that `Aina Koa Pono will be run by outsiders, may have some impact on traffic, biofuel will cost more to produce than imported oil, and the plant will be too expensive to build.
Chris Eldridge
      Eldridge responded that “`Aina Koa Pono is locally owned, and the $450 million project is privately funded. Eight to 12 trucks a week will deliver biofuel to Keahole. The project poses no financial risk to ratepayers, who pay nothing until the biofuel is produced and accepted by HELCO.”

ESTABLISHMENT OF A SENIOR CENTER in Ocean View will be considered by the Windward Planning Commission at its meeting on Friday, Nov. 9. The application calls for the center to also be used as a community center and an emergency shelter with a capacity of 100 people. The two-acre parcel of land, situated within the State Land Use Agricultural District on Lotus Blossom Lane mauka of Ace Hardware, would also have a certified kitchen. Peter Sur, of Hawai`i Tribune-Herald, reports that the county Planning Department is giving the project a positive recommendation. See more at hawaiitribune-herald.com.

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS NOW OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ka`u New Briefs Oct. 29, 2012

Lava in the fiery vent in Halema`uma`u continued to rise and fall over the weekend and could spill over onto the crater floor.
  Photo by Teresa Tico
HALEMA`UMA`U DREW REPEAT VISITORS to the overlook at Jaggar Musuem at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park over the weekend. Photographers on the ledge said they were coming to the summit night after night to see the light show and hear the rumble with hopes of lava rising high and spilling onto the crater floor. The park is open 24 hours a day, and rangers urge visitors to remain safe by obeying traffic signs, carrying flashlights and looking for cracks, rocks and other hazards as they drive and walk to viewing places. Several pairs of nene, the federally endangered goose and Hawai`i’s State Bird, are nesting near Jaggar Museum parking lot and are seen along roadsides and trails. Drivers and hikers are cautioned to be alert for the birds and their nests.
      Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/havo. For webcams and daily Kilauea status updates, visit the USGS HVO website, http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php.

The Punalu`u tsunami siren worked on Saturday but will be double-checked by Civil Defense
personnel who will be stationed there during the next monthly test. Photo by Julia Neal
TESTING OF ALL CIVIL DEFENSE SIRENS on the Big Island next month will involve the county stationing personnel at all locations “to ensure that they are operating as expected in concert with Hawai`i State Civil Defense,” says a statement released by Hawai`i County on Sunday. State Civil Defense owns the sirens and takes care of repairs, while Hawai`i County Civil Defense coordinates the operation of the sirens and conducts monthly tests. Several failed to sound the alarm when the first tsunami warning was sounded on Saturday. 
      The statement also reviewed the county response to the tsunami warning that began following a 7.7 earthquake off British Columbia at 5:04 p.m. Saturday and the advisory that lasted until 3:58 a.m. on Sunday.
      “Although there were technical challenges initially with our siren system during (the) tsunami warning, the challenges were addressed. The sirens are just one facet of our comprehensive emergency notification strategy, which includes sounding sirens, sending phone, text, and email alerts through mass notification systems, Civil Defense messages on radio and television stations, and manual notification by Police, Fire, and Civil Air Patrol.
       “Police and Fire personnel were deployed immediately to shoreline areas to notify people of the evacuation. Two fire helicopters, a privately contracted helicopter, and a Civil Air Patrol plane were in the air to monitor the shoreline and further notify people in difficult to access shoreline areas and ensure that the areas were clear.
       “Our human response was executed according to plan. In spite of the technical challenges earlier in the evening, we were able to safely execute a complete islandwide evacuation of shoreline and low-lying areas by 10:05 p.m.

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE `AINA KOA PONO case before the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission are today at Hilo High School cafeteria and tomorrow at Kealakehe High School cafeteria, both at 6 p.m.  The contract would tie up the cost of diesel for 20 years. The diesel would be manufactured in a micro-wave depolymerization refinery that would be built along Wood Valley Road. Sixteen million gallons a year would be trucked to the HELCO power plant near Kona Airport. Another 8 million gallons would be manufactured for transportation fuel. Testimony pro and con is available at puc.hawaii.gov

OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSAL comes from Wood Valley resident Sandra Reha. She focuses on the proposed increase in electric bills, though the increase is less than proposed last year when the PUC turned down `Aina Koa Pono.  The new $1 increase for each 500 to 600 kilowatt hours used is “important because that will be on top of the 4.3 rate increase HELCO is currently seeking." She also writes about the  20-year, fixed price contract for HELCO to buy diesel from `Aina Koa Pono - a price hidden from the public.
Proposed site of AKP's biodiesel refinery is between Pahala and Wood Valley,
along Meyer Camp Road.  Photo by Julia Neal
      "The way the world turns, 20 years is a long time to keep everyone in their clutches. It seems many will go to solar. That creates problems for those left to pay the bills.
      “Who knows what changes and opportunities lie in our future? So many improvements occur in five years it is staggering. It is questionable from many authorities if biomass isn’t an obsolete process as an oil producer, presently.
      "I keep reading that there are more worthy ways to create energy. I suggest we consider those.
     "I want to be open-minded about `Aina Koa Pono because of employment opportunities. But, when I read what the process involves, the number of people needed to perform all the varying tasks, the equipment and vehicles, and parking lots needed, the improvement of infrastructure, the facilities needed, the offices...
Sandra Reha
      “I also have trouble understanding how it could be possible not to have to run an Environmental Impact Study... The technology they plan to adopt hasn’t even been in use. Please question this very carefully... it is said that because they grow ag no environmental study needs to happen. The ag is in one location; the oil refinery is in a totally separate location! But in truth it is an oil refinery,” she writes. “I also understand, if `Aina Koa Pono isn’t successful with grasses they can use garbage and old tires. Is this not true? Are we opening up ourselves to something other than biomass here.....?"
      Reha writes that she wonders “how this site was determined, while there is much land fallow near the biomass growing sites. Why haul it 12 miles down a steep grade just above Pahala Town? It is not efficient and conceivably could be quite dangerous.”
      Reha says she is concerned about “the polluting effects on Pahala and Wood Valley and all Ka`u and the entire island. If anymore vog and polluted air flows into the valley, there will be more serious health problems than already exist.... that same air flows down to Pahala each evening from above. ...One other factor that looms for us in the Wood Valley, along with air pollutants, there is the issue of sound pollutants. Sound carries dramatically up to the valley and is even greatly magnified,” Reha says. 

Larry Gilbert
SUPPORT FOR `AINA KOA PONO comes from Honolulu resident Larry Gilbert, managing partner, CEO and chairman of Kairos Energy Capital. Gilbert states that Kairos’ “mission is to bring renewable energy projects to successful, profitable conclusions.” Gilbert is also on the board of directors for Sennet Capital, a Hawai`i merchant bank led by `Aina Koa Pono chairman Kenton Eldridge. Sennet lists `Aina Koa Pono as one of its Transactions.
In his letter to the PUC, he says that, “as the cost of electricity fluctuates with the price of fossil fuel used in power plants, the monthly Energy Cost Adjustment charge reflects the cost. Both the high cost of our electric energy and the large and unpredictable fluctuations are extremely harmful to Hawai`i’s economy.
      “It is in the public’s interest to develop a long term, sustainable biofuels industry along with our other renewable energy efforts. In addition to helping stabilize and eventually bring down our energy costs, agriculturally based biofuels projects have the potential for many other collateral benefits to our community, from expanding agricultural infrastructure to providing long term stable employment in rural communities to helping preserve the rural feel and beauty of so many parts of Hawai`i.
      “The Commission should rightly be concerned about costs, but it is crucial to look at both the big picture and the long term picture. What seems like a high cost now will very likely seem low in 10 years, and even a cost that is comparable to current fossil fuel is better because it can be kept stable and predictable. And in the big picture of things, the Commission must recognize that it is making an investment that will facilitate other projects in the future which will benefit from the lessons and proof of concept established by the first projects, and hence be able to deliver lower cost product. First projects require intense capitalization; once successful, subsequent facilities cost less to develop and reap greater benefit to the community, the government and to the investors.
      “Nor will `Aina Koa Pono impact the development of other alternative sources for electric generation. The timeframe for new geothermal sites will likely be at least a decade. Both HECO’s Robbie Aim and the State Energy Office’s Mark Glick have both advocated for Hawai`i’s energy portfolio to be diversified and not rely upon only one energy source; relying on one source—imported oil—has gotten the State into its current energy predicament,” says Gilbert.

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS NOW OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Oct. 28, 2012

Shades of gray and lines in the sand show where the tsunami lapped onto Punalu`u Beach overnight.
Photo by Julia Neal
ESCAPING THE TSUNAMI led Ka`u boat builder, navigator, teacher and captain Kiko Johnston-Kitazawa to paddle his 28-foot, double-hull Wa`akaula sailing canoe three miles out to sea last night. While the sailor keeps most of his canoes at home above Honu`apo, he faced the challenge of saving his biggest canoe in Hilo when the tsunami warning came. It followed a 7.7 earthquake just off the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) in British Columbia.
Honu`apo canoe builder Kiko
Johnston-Kitazawa
      The captain drove to Hilo where, alone, against the wind, he launched the Hawaiian sailing canoe at 9:30 p.m., less than an hour before the first tsunami waves were expected to strike. With great effort, Johnston-Kitazawa said, he paddled past the Snout of the Shark sand point at Wailoa and into Hilo Bay. He set sail and paddled three hours out to sea where some 20 ocean vessels, from sailboats to tugboats, waited out the warning.
      After small tsunami waves lapped and surged into Hilo Harbor and the ocean began to settle, Johntson-Kitazawa paddled and sailed back to Hilo, reaching the shore at 4 a.m. this morning.
      He is known for teaching Hawaiian sailing skills to many school children. See http://waakaulua.com.

THE TSUNAMI WARNING last night was the third in three years, coming from three different directions, Canada, Japan and Chile, and it was the first Hawai`i tsunami warning generated by a quake off of Canada. Last night’s 7.7 earthquake off British Columbia at 5:04 p.m. Hawaiian time led to the tsunami warning at 7:15 p.m., with first sirens at 7:45 p.m. All 78 condominiums at Sea Mountain at Punalu`u beach resort and homes near the ocean were evacuated. Campers at Punalu`u Beach Park, Honu`apo and Ka Lae were told to leave. An evacuation shelter opened at Pahala Community Center. Police blocked Hwy 11 from Punalu`u to the pali above Honu`apo, sending travelers into the mountains and over the old sugar cane haul road between Na`alehu and Pahala. Police guarding Kawa Beach from intruders 24/7 during a month-long archaeological survey were pulled from their posts.
Kiko Johnston-Kitazawa's canoe at Honu`apo. He paddled the 28-foot Wa`akaula
 from Wailoa 3 miles out to sea during the tsunami warning. Photo by William Neal 
      Myra Sumida said she and other shopkeepers at Punalu`u Black Sand Beach removed their inventory from their stands. Campers and beachgoers at Punalu`u said that early this morning they were allowed to return and saw water coming high onto the shore. Evidence on the beach showed several shades of gray, lines in the sand indicating tsunami surges onto the coast.
      No damage was reported along the Ka`u Coast and boaters departed Punalu`u ramp to resume fishing as families arrived for Sunday at the beach park.
      Last night along Hilo Bay and Wailoa, Mayor Billy Kenoi reported four-foot surges at six-minute intervals. Big Island Video News reported “water at the Wailoa Boat Harbor swirling in strange patterns, rushing in and out, carrying debris and rocking boats.” The mayor thanked county employees and volunteers for conducting safe evacuations during the tsunami warning.

The energy from the 7.7 earthquake off Canada
came toward Hawai`i. Image from Pacific
Tsunami Warning Center
COUNTY CIVIL DEFENSE led the operations for last night’s tsunami warning. Sirens blared in Ka`u every 15 minutes as the expected 10:25 p.m. tsunami time neared. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center generated a model of the energy flow from the earthquake that showed it heading away from North America's west coast and targeting Hawai`i. Buoys picked up the tsunami wave between here and Canada. However, little damage was reported around the state. 
      Other tsunami warnings in the last three years followed the 8.8 earthquake in Chile on Feb. 27, 2010, and the 9.0 earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011, when the tsunami swept away some houses on the South Kona coast.

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE `AINA KOA PONO case before the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission are tomorrow at Hilo High School cafeteria and Tuesday at Kealakehe High School cafeteria, both at 6 p.m. More testimony, pro and con, regarding `Aina Koa Pono’s proposed contract with HELCO, which would tie up the cost of diesel for 20 years, coming from a refinery that would be built in Ka`u, is available at puc.hawaii.gov.

OPPOSTION TO `AINA KOA PONO’s project comes from Colleen Aina, owner of Pinky’s 5 Eight store in Papaikou. She writes that “allowing HECO to buy biofuel from `Aina Koa Pono is not in the best interest of the Big Island population, is not in the best interest of the Big Island economy and is not in the best interest of the future of alternative energy projects.” She lists reasons why she opposes the contract as well as the separate 4.2 percent rate increase proposed by HELCO:
  “Those who can afford the photovoltaic option (residential and commercial) will do so and leave the grid leaving the balance of the rate-paying population to pay for the grid electricity. Those left on the grid will pay higher electric bills.
      “The Big Island gets federal aid to subsidize electric bills for low-income families. The higher the electrical rates, the higher the electric bills, the larger this subsidized population will grow. How much more can we depend on this aid for the subsidized segment? What happens when this subsidy is eliminated through budget cuts? Will this subsidized population go ‘black’ - no electricity at all?
The owner of Pinky's says small businesses will be hurt by `Aina Koa Pono
and HELCO, if the PUC approves electric bill increases.
      “Many businesses like Pinky’s will have a very very difficult time paying electrical costs higher than what we are currently paying. Will this mean we close our doors? Closing the business will lead to a domino effect: swelling of unemployment, higher electrical costs for those left on the grid, etc. The effect is dizzying.
      “The move to alternative energy is the answer to relying less on oil. But CAREFUL analysis of these projects must be made. Not all projects are created equal. Could we end up paying more for the alternative energy project than we currently paying for oil-based electricity? That seems to be the case with HECO’s request to purchase the bio fuel from `Aina Koa Pono.”

Ken Kaneshiro
SUPPORT FOR `AINA KOA PONO comes from a Honolulu resident, Dr. Ken Kaneshiro, director of Center for Conservation Research & Training in the Pacific Biosciences Research Center at UH-Manoa. Kaneshiro also serves on the Board of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy with its chairman, Kenton Eldridge, who is co-founder and chair of `Aina Koa Pono. Kaneshiro's letter focuses on what he calls “the potential positive impact of biochar on agricultural productivity, water quality, ecosystem health, carbon sequestration, and even public health.” Biochar is a by-product of the refinery process. “When (biochar is) used as a soil amendment, productivity is enhanced by at least 100 percent,” Kaneshiro says.
      “Furthermore, the cost of agricultural production will decrease because while the soil with biochar may need to be fertilized the first time, subsequent application of expensive petroleum-based fertilizers will be significantly reduced. The biochar acts as a time-release substrate for the nutrients which normally would leach away following the first heavy rainfall. The secondary effect of this is that pollution of our groundwater aquifers is significantly reduced. In addition, the biochar, which is nearly 70-90 percent pure carbon, when used as a soil amendment, is a form of carbon sequestration which remains locked in the soil for a very long time.”
      Other reasons Kaneshiro states in support of the project are reinvigoration of Hawai`i’s agricultural industry, Aina Koa Pono's contenttion that it will raise $200 million in taxes for the state, its employment of 400 people for construction of its Ka`u refinery, and its promise of 200 permanent ag and refinery jobs. He also states that the refinery will help with consumption of invasive species.

Kanu Hawai`i volunteers work to get out the vote. Photos from kanuhawaii.org
KANU HAWAI`I, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, is working to get out the vote, particularly among young people. The organization’s website says, “Democracy promises a government of, by, and for the people, but what we have today is a vicious cycle of disappointed people who no longer vote and a politics dominated by moneyed interests that have rushed in to fill the void. In the past 40 years, Hawai`i has gone from having the highest voter turnout in the country to posting the lowest rates in the nation. Breaking this cycle will require each of us to take new responsibility - new kuleana - as citizens and citizen-leaders.” 
      Kanu volunteers, most in their 20s and 30s, have been leading an effort to:
1) expand the vote by registering new voters, especially chronically under-represented communities, young people, and working families with children;
2) gather community voices door-to-door and online, asking people to share what's important and summarizing priorities in ways leaders can respond to;
3) create information for accountability with pre-election voter guides and post-election reports, equipping people to hold elected leaders accountable.
      Information compiled by Kanu Hawai`i about all candidates running for office in Hawai`i is available at kanuhawaii.org.

ABSENTEE MAIL BALLOTS for the General Election are available through Tuesday. Walk-in voting continues through Saturday, Nov. 3 at Aupuni Center Conference Room in Hilo, West Hawai`i Civic Center’s Community Room in Kona and Waimea Community Center on Kawaihae Road. Registered voters with photo ID can go to any of these absentee voting polling places. Any questions can be directed to Hawai`i County Elections Office at 961-8277.


THE HAWAI`I FOREST INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION, in conjunction with a group of community leaders, presents its Growing Koa in Hawai`i Nei symposium. Deadline to register is this Wednesday, Oct. 31. The symposium will be Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17. Presentations are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at Kilauea Military Camp’s Ohia Room in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, followed by a Pau Hana Reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. A field trip to Keauhou Ranch in Ka`u is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17.
Dr. Charles Michler
      Keynote speaker Dr. Charles Michler, director of Purdue University’s Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center and the Tropical HTIRC in Hawai`i, presents The Right Koa for You.
      Leading experts in koa research and management will present the following topics:
* Who’s Growing Koa and How Many Acres are Involved?
* Low Elevation Research Progress
* Silvicultural Practices to Improve Form and Branching
* Koa Case Studies
* Plantation Establishment Techniques
* Improvement Efforts to Date: Hawai`i Tree Improvement Research Center
* Recent Koa Research
* Koa Establishment and Management
      The Keauhou Ranch field trip includes visits to a 1987 koa stand (thinning trial), a 1978 koa stand (crop tree thinning), a seven-year-and-younger koa plantation, a spacing trial and a three- to six-year-old koa plantation.
      Maps and topics of discussion will be provided at each stop.
      The Koa Symposium Committee encourages students, land managers, farmers, ranchers, policymakers, government agencies, community groups, educators and the general public to attend the symposium. To register and learn more about the symposium and tour, committee members, sponsorship opportunities and benefits, visit hawaiiforest.org/index.php/art.

The Trojan wahine made history, capturing Ka`u's first-ever BIIF volleyball title. The team received a plaque, and each member and coach received a medal. Left to right: team manager Holden Galigo, assistant coach Jadelynn Domondon, team manager Kai Enriques, Jenna Gascon, Sky Kanakaole-Esperon, Leah Cariaga, Kamalani Fujikawa, Kristina Padrigo, Jernest Breithaupt-Louis, Marley Strand-Nicolaisen, Kerrilyn Domondon, Kaila Olson, Casey Koi, Toni Beck, Janeane Tadeo and head coach Josh Ortega. Photo by Lena Ortega
KA`U HIGH WAHINE VARSITY VOLLEYBALL TEAM won Ka`u’s first ever BIIF volleyball title last night. The Trojans, who held Div. II first place going into BIIF playoffs, took down Konawaena Div. II second place in four sets (25-21, 25-27, 25-19, 25-15). Senior Marley Nicolaisen-Strand cleaned up with 29 kills, while fellow senior Kaila Olson put away 16. The Trojans will play in the state championship on O`ahu, which runs from Tuesday, Oct. 30 to Friday, Nov. 2. The team is raising money for the O`ahu trip.
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Oct. 27, 2012

The recent Ka`u Plantation Days is an example of a geotourism event that combines agritourism and cultural tourism. The event was planned by and for residents of the district and celebrates a sense of place and the multicultural background of the residents.
Geotourism was discussed this week in Volcano, Pahala and Kohala. Photo by Julia Neal
HUNTING AXIS DEER IS NOW ALLOWED, with the Board of Land and Natural Resources eliminating the need for a special permit. Previously, hunting deer on Hawai`i Island required a special permit because axis deer are not identified as a game mammal on Hawai`i Island.
      Yesterday’s vote by the BLNR removes that permitting requirement and allows hunters to control deer on public lands without restrictions for season or bag limit. All other hunting rules, such as hunting only during daylight hours and the requirement of a valid hunting license, remain in effect. Hunting on private lands requires written permission of the landowner.
Grazing axis deer damage agricultural crops. Photo from DLNR
      Under the declaration, BLNR chairperson William Aila, Jr. identified axis deer as being harmful to agriculture, native plants, and wildlife on the island of Hawai`i, as well as constituting a threat to public safety. On Maui and Moloka`i, where axis deer may already be taken without regard to season or bag limit on public lands, axis deer have caused severe damage to local agriculture and forest resources, and have increased erosion and sedimentation that contributes to damage of coral reefs and nearshore fisheries.
      Under the declaration issued by Aila, licensed hunters are encouraged to assist in the effort to protect Hawai`i Island’s natural resources and farms by harvesting any deer encountered in public hunting areas on Hawai`i Island.
      In accordance with the department’s hunting regulations, there are no restrictions on the days or seasons that deer may be hunted on the Big Island and no limits on the numbers that may be taken. The declaration is required by rule to be term-limited and will last for a period of five years, through Oct. 25, 2017.
      To report a suspected sighting of axis deer on the Big Island, call 443-4036.

Sen. Malama Solomon
SEN. MALAMA SOLOMON URGES all interested Hawai`i Island residents to attend next week’s public hearings on proposed Hawai`i Electric Light Co. rate increases. Meetings are scheduled at Hilo High School Cafeteria on Monday and Kealakehe High School on Tuesday. Both begin at 6 p.m. At issue is one proposal to raise electric rates 4.2 percent. The other would increase residential electric bills across the Big Island and O`ahu by approximately $1 per 600 kilowatt-hours for the proposed contract between `Aina Koa Pono and HELCO and could lead to construction of a refinery along Wood Valley Road above Pahala. 
      Solomon says she will present her petition at Kalakehe and that it is signed by more than 1,000 people against the proposed rate increase. Her report says she “sees this expression of public opposition as a clear mandate to demand the Governor and Public Utilities Commission (and State Consumer Protector) deny HELCO’s proposed rate increase, especially given recent significant profits reported by both HELCO and its parent company, Hawaiian Electric Light Co. HECO reported $29.4 million in income for the second quarter of 2012 – about 70 percent more profit than it earned in the same quarter in 2011."
      Solomon also urges the governor to rescind Executive Agreements between the state of Hawai`i, the U.S. Department of Energy and HECO that were put in place in 2008. Solomon says, “These agreements effectively relinquished the state of Hawai`i’s control of its energy policy to HECO and thereby enabled HECO to function as an unregulated monopoly focused on profits for its stockholders rather than stable, lowest-possible-cost electricity for the families and business of Hawai`i. These agreements sanctioned HECO as a state-supported energy monopoly and enabled passing on to ratepayers all costs for HECO’s expansion and diversification away from fossil fuels.”
      Petition signers and the senator ask the governor, PUC and Consumer Protector to demand that the public utility shoulder costs for timely transition away from fossil fuels and not place the burden of this transition on the consumer. Solomon says she will ask the PUC to adopt as a matter of public policy a requirement that the utility provider “must swiftly make the transition from fossil fuels to ‘stable, lower cost electricity’ – not just ‘renewable alternative fuels’ – to relieve constituents of high and continually escalating rates.”

World Heritage Sites around the globe include Hawai`i Volcanoes
National Park. See whc.unesco.org. Map from UNESCO
MAINTAINING A SENSE OF PLACE is one of the principles of geotourism, explained by Jonathan Tourtellot, founder of the
National Geographic Society's Center for Sustainable Destinations. He met with groups in Volcano, Kohala Coast and Pahala this week, describing geotourism as an “economic approach for maximizing beneficial tourism and good destination stewardship.” 
      The longtime National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler editor defined geotourism as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.”
      Tourtellot said the goal of geotourism is “to help preserve, protect, and educate in ways that support the natural and cultural distinctiveness of appealing places and the well-being of the people who live there.”
      He said places in Hawai`i that fit this description include the old sugar towns that have unique architecture and multicultural communities that many visitors enjoy.
Jonathan Tourtellot
      Geotourism can combine such niches as ecotourism and agritourism. “By featuring the destination as a whole, a geotourism strategy can strengthen the case for responsible, beneficial tourism by embracing all tourism assets uniquely distinctive to the locale. Thus allied, advocates for those assets can form a constituency of stewardship. Together they have enough political and economic clout to challenge local threats to the place’s natural and cultural resources while building a unique marketing case for their destination,” he said.
      Tourtellot made presentations and held discussions with visitor industry representatives who talked about ways to keep the unique qualities of their own Big Island destinations. He pointed to places around the world that are considered treasures in the visitor industry, drawing tourists who avoid the “sameness” of some resort developments that could be anywhere in the world and often spread across villages and landscapes once tourism becomes successful.
      Realizing what brings visitors to a destination in the first place is one of the first steps in protecting the prize. It can help the community to create a stewardship and planned enhancements to sustain visitation for generations and economic success for the local residents, he explained.
      Tourtellot also discussed the advantages of becoming one of the World Heritage Sites, which are treasured by many travelers across the globe. Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is one of 21 World Heritage Site in the United States. The sites are monitored by UNESCO.
      The visit was sponsored by Big Island Visitors Bureau and celebrates the 25th anniversary of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park as a World Heritage site.
      See geotourism.org, travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/sustainable/, and whc.unesco.org/en/list.

Ella Louis; illustrator Kay Yokoyama; Marion Villanueva, wife of the late
Gus Villanueva; and Dorothy Kalua at the reception for the new book
Aloha `Aina: Big Island Memories. Photo by Julia Neal

STORIES ABOUT KA`U AND SUGAR DAYS are featured in the new book, Aloha `Aina: Big Island Memories, released this week at East Hawai`i Cultural Center. The stories of retired Ka`u Hospital nurse Eleanora Jerusalem Louis and the late paniolo Edwin “Gus” Garcia Villanueva, who was raised in a sugar camp, were honored at the event.
      Louis grew up in what was called Hospital Camp in Pahala. Her dad worked as an LPN. Louis recalls that during plantation days, “Day and night, the cane trucks would go up and down the road from the cane fields to the mill to dump their load. A whistle would blow timely as the crew changed shifts at 6:30 a.m., 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m. Noon was to let the men know it was lunch time The community set their clocks by the whistle.”
      Louis writes about the flume, recalling that it carried cane to the mill. “One waterway ran alongside our home, across the main street and down a tunnel into the mill. We kids would ‘dam’ the water with rocks that rolled down with the water so we could swim and play in it. We had to watch out, too, that we never got splinters into our backsides as we slid along the bottom of the flume. Sometimes we rode the cane over the main street and jumped off by swinging on the vines that hung from a mango tree that grew tall near the flume. This was dangerous too, because if the load came down swiftly, we could get bad hurt. We always had a kid as a “lookout” in case cane or watchman came along the route. The flume men later took out the rocks so they wouldn’t plug up the waterway.”
      Villanueva tells the story of living in a Puerto Rican Camp and also enjoying the flume. “One day, some of my friends and I went to the top of the flume and took off our clothes then jumped into the flume on top of sugar bundles going to the mill. We timed our ride and jumped off before the mill, only to discover the luna (the boss) on his white horse. He was Portuguese. I believe his name was Cabral. He took us back to the avocado tree to get our clothes and marched us home naked to our parents who were not too happy. We got a dirty licking.”
      The 288-page Aloha `Aina: Big Island Memories can be purchased through East Hawai`i Cultural Center. Call 961-5711 or email arts@ehcc.org. It is also available at amazon.com.

TUESDAY IS THE LAST DAY to request Absentee Mail Ballots for the General Election. Walk-in voting continues through next Saturday, Nov. 3 at Aupuni Center Conference Room in Hilo, West Hawai`i Civic Center’s Community Room in Kona and Waimea Community Center on Kawaihae Road. Registered voters with photo ID can go to any of these absentee voting polling places. Any questions can be directed to Hawai`i County Elections Office at 961-8277. 

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS NOW OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Oct. 26, 2012

Ka`u photographer Peter Anderson captured images of Kilauea Volcano's activity at Halema`uma`u Crater last night.
Light from molten lava lights up the sky.
Photo by Peter Anderson
HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY scientists report that the lava level at Halema`uma`u Crater continues to rise. The most recent lava level measurement was made yesterday at the top of a rise/fall event when the lava lake surface was about 89 feet below the floor of the crater. The best viewing site is Jaggar Museum, and observers say the lava may top the vent and pour onto the floor of the larger Halema`uma`u Crater. Photos and webcams at hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php show dramatic images of the current activity. 

KAWA WILL BE GUARDED with limited access to the public for about 30 days, following removal yesterday of Abel Simeona Lui, Moses Heanu, Katrina Morgan and several campers, the county reports.
      This morning, retired police officer Bill Door and an active duty police officer from Kona were standing guard. They said that police and police reserve will rotate through Kawa, providing coverage 24 hours a day.
County workers create a road for access to structures at Kawa.
Image from bigislandvideonews.com
      The county is conducting an archaeological and cultural management study, and, according to Lau, there are more than 60 burials – iwi kupuna - and a heiau. He said the county is working with lineal descendents of families who lived in Kawa in generations past to learn the history and plan for its future management. In addition to graves, Lau said, there are more than 100 archaeological and cultural sites at Kawa that will be documented and protected as part of the county plan. He said the county has found that the families with Kawa history want to share the culture in a way that sites will be protected.
      “We ask the people to be very patient with us as the archaeological survey is done,” said Lau. “We want to open up Kawa to the public as soon as we can…. We are not here to keep the public out.”
      Lau said the goal is not to block recreational use of the area, “whether people visit Kawa to surf, ulua fish, or just to come and enjoy the beautiful scenery or look at the green sea turtles…We will get it open as quickly as we can, but it will have some parameters and guidelines.”
County workers disassemble a structure at Kawa to be held
in storage at Na`alehu Police Station.
Image from bigislandvideonews.com
      During the eviction yesterday, Hui Malama Ola Na `Oiwi, a native Hawaiian health care agency, offered help to find housing and other assistance, but the service was turned down, Lau said.
      “The police did a great job in being firm but being very respectful to the situation,” said Lau.
      Sheriffs presented Lui and his companions with a writ of execution yesterday just before 7 a.m. and gave them two hours to gather up their belongings and leave Lui’s house and other structures on the property.
      Lau said Lui’s house, fencing and other structures at Kawa will be dismantled and along with other belongings will be placed in a container in a storage area at the Ka`u Police Station, where owners can pick them up within the next month. Yesterday, the county started filling potholes with dirt and gravel to make it easier for county trucks to reach Lui’s dwelling and other structures to dismantle them.
      Lui told Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter Erin Miller “Nothing has changed. Ka`u was never conquered. This is my ancestral land. The land belongs to God. God gave the land to the chiefs, to the people to malama.” He told the reporter, “I really don’t know what to do. I will go back to the land.” The story also reports him asking why the county removed him after four years of negotiations, conversations and court actions. “What is the rush that they come and cause this?”
A surf meet was scheduled at Kawa in November. Photo by Julia Neal
      Lui has lived on the property for more than 20 years, at one time with his late wife and two children. He has gone to court numerous times in the face of numerous eviction notices, unsuccessfully claiming title to the land. Four separate owners attempted to evict him. The last is the county, which bought the land with county, state and federal funding to preserve estuaries and archaeological sites in the face of earlier private plans to sell it off.
      Before the county bought the land, one section of the Kawa property, which had been purchased by a hui led by former Ka`u Realtor Marcia Johnson, was the subject of two-page advertising spreads in real estate magazines urging investors to buy the last available bay in Ka`u.
      Kawa is also the most popular surf spot in Ka`u, and Lui has regularly hosted surf meets there. The next meet, promoted by flyers posted around Ka`u, was set for Friday, Nov. 23 and Saturday, Nov. 24. Called Lokahi O Kawa`a, it is posted as a Barrel Riding, Aircatching and Bodysurfing Shootout with men’s and women’s divisions. Entry fee was posted as $10.
      See more at hawaiitribune-herald.com and bigislandvideonews.com.

SUPPORT FOR `AINA KOA PONO’S proposed diesel refinery in Ka`u and contract with Hawai`i Electric Light Co. has been submitted to the state Public Utilities Commission by parties involved with the enterprise. O`ahu resident and retired radiologist Grover J. Liese, MD is a member of the board of advisors for Sennet Capital, a Hawai`i merchant bank led by `Aina Koa Pono chairman Kenton Eldridge. On its website, Sennet Capital lists `Aina Koa Pono as one of its Transactions.
James Cuddihy Image from the
Louisiana-based Sugar Journal
      Liese lists the following as reasons he sees `Aina Koa Pono’s project as a “public benefit. 1) This new industry is a major step in the quest to diminish Hawai`i’s dependence on imported oil. 2) The process can be tailored to each of our islands. There will be no need for inter-island energy transmission lines. 3) It keeps Hawaiian money in Hawai`i. 4) It will create new jobs in a new industry. 5) It supports and expands the agricultural industry. 6) It meets Hawai`i’s Clean Energy objectives. I request support for `Aina Koa Pono’s Application with HELCO as outlined above,” Liese says.
      James A. Cuddihy, Jr., a former superintendent for the sugar plantation in Pahala who lives in Louisiana and has worked in the oil industry, writes, “`Aina Koa Pono is an opportunity, using private funds, to inject life into a depressed area. If successful, the venture will spread to the other islands. It is an almost perfect synergistic industry because it is sustainable, produces a marketable and valuable product with almost no pollution (zero discharge). It would initially take invasive plants and remove them from the ecosystem. It would replace them with a productive, sustainable crop on lands which had been used for sugar cane for close to 100 years— no environmental, ecological or cultural change.
      “It would not only supply jobs directly (agriculture, trucking and industrial), but it also creates jobs associated with production (industrial, equipment parts and service community). Economically, for every dollar spent in production, six dollars of revenue are generated within the community. The direct permanent employment of 200, generating $22 million, will generate another $132 million in direct revenue within the state. This does not include additional revenue generated through the purchase of equipment, parts.”
      Cuddihy has worked as a consultant for `Aina Koa Pono and given presentations at public meetings in Ka`u. He says, “At the meetings I have attended, there is a vocal minority who give culture, esthetics, natural disasters, pollution, fear of new technology, dislike for change and the unwillingness to pay for a way of living as reasons for not continuing the project. Anyone can find fault with any venture, particularly new technology. Perhaps there should be a requirement for those expressing a negative viewpoint, they have to supply an alternative solution. There may be alternative solutions in the future but `Aina Koa Pono is ready today.”

Attorney Ron Self grows olives and other trees and food crops in Wood
Valley. He opposes the refinery.
OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSED `AINA KOA PONO DIESEL REFINERY has been submitted to the state Public Utilities Commission by attorney Ron Self, who farms property around his home in Wood Valley. “Clearly, the small number of people, companies, and government interests behind and benefiting from this enterprise believe that the people of Hawai`i are so unsophisticated that all they have to do is use good words to cover-up their bad intentions. These few rich and politically powerful interests have converged to try to take extra money out of Hawai`i residents for the foreseeable future, 20 years, at least, and control and manipulate energy markets in this state for the same period of time….
      “When you break down the proposed project, the facts show that AKP will burn biomass, then refine it, with an old outdated technology in the field of bio-energy. We don’t know what physical dangers will come from such an operation because no Environmental Impact Statement has been done…. 
      “AKP has stated that it will produce and sell 16 millions gallons of bio-diesel a year to Hawai`i Electric Light Co. and another eight million gallons of biodiesel to Mansfield Oil. How are they going to do that on 12,000 acres of Olson and Mallick land in Ka`u, when the standard yields of biomass per acre per year is between 50 and 150 gallons per acre-per year. That will only be 600,000 to 1.8 million gallons a year on 12,000 acres. Where does the other biomass come from? Is AKP planning to haul a massive amount of trash to Ka`u for stock? Where are the disclosures and truth? If so, then Ka`u is in the wrong place to put the diesel refinery. It should be put where the trash is, not a hundred miles away from the sources.”
      Self also addresses the proposed contract between AKP and HELCO that would raise electric bills. “We need electric rates to go down, not up to create an economic advantage. Allowing such a system will crush all hope for alternate energy systems in Hawai`i, and continue the monopoly of energy in Hawai`i held by the HECO Companies. As a farmer who lives within a half mile of the proposed site, that grows koa, ohia, sandalwood, coffee, and olives, I am completely opposed to the whole concept being proposed to harm the treasure of Ka`u and take over $200 million from the pockets of the residents of Hawai`i to build this monstrosity. Don’t allow the people to be the guarantor of this boondoggle so that AKP can get financing for it. The Gods of Hawai`i weep for Ka`u at this proposal.”
      See all the testimony, pro and con, submitted at www.puc.hawaii.gov. Click on the `Aina Koa Pono link under What’s New and on documents.

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE `AINA KOA PONO CASE before the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission are next week – Monday, Oct. 29 at Hilo High School cafeteria and Tuesday, Oct. 30 at Kealakehe High School cafeteria, both at 6 p.m. No hearings are scheduled for Ka`u, where `Aina Koa Pono plans to build a refinery near Wood Valley Road.
      According to company officials, `Aina Koa Pono would install some 27 Micro Dee microwave units, each 10 by 15 by 30 feet, to process pellets made from shrubs, trees and grasses harvested between Pahala and Na`alehu. The pellets would be microwaved and sent up a stack, with various grades of diesels manufactured. Sixteen million gallons of the biodiesel would be trucked up Hwy 11 to HELCO’s oil-burning power plant near Kona Airport annually. An additional eight million gallons of diesel would be manufactured per year to sell for transportation through a Georgia-based fuel broker. Hawai`i Electric Light Co. proposes a 20-year contract to purchase the diesel from `Aina Koa Pono at an undisclosed price.
      `Aina Koa Pono plans to install the first module of its refinery independent of Public Utilities Commission approval. According to a statement from the company, the one unit will be able to process 33 tons of biomass per day and one million gallons of biofuel per year and will be for transportation fuel only. The fuel will be shipped by truck, likely one a week, to Hilo.

AUTHOR TOM PEEK debuts his first novel, Daughters of Fire, at Volcano Art Center Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at VAC’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Peek says the book “invites the reader on a journey into the deeper beauty and hidden turmoil of Hawai`i.” For more information, visit daughtersoffire.com and volcanoartcenter.org, or call 967-8222.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Oct. 25, 2012

County dump trucks and other county and police vehicles along with an ambulance were stationed along Hwy 11 in front of Kawa
 today, as Abel Simeona Lui and others were evicted from the property in preparation of an archaeological survey.
Photos by Geneveve Fyvie
THE KAWA ARCHEAOLOGICAL SURVEY, organized by Hawai`i County, is set to begin soon as the county takes down unpermitted dwellings and limits public access. Numerous county officials, police and an ambulance were stationed along Hwy 11 this morning as several people were escorted off the property, with at least one woman taken away in a police car.
Lui was escorted from Kawa by Hawai`i
County police this morning.
      Among residents asked to leave was Abel Simeona Lui, who has lived at Kawa for more than 20 years and has claimed ownership through family history. However, courts have turned down his claims to the land numerous times. Lui also claims rights to the property through Hawaiian sovereignty.
      According to a press release from the Office of the Mayor, “Kawa, a 784-acre area that came into the stewardship of the County of Hawai`i through the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation program, is a special place that is home to endangered species and contains many cultural resources, historically significant sites, and burials. It is the County’s kuleana, or responsibility as steward of Kawa to protect and preserve this `aina and these special sites.”
      A site visit to Kawa by the state Historic Preservation Division in September of 2012, “confirmed the presence of a large burial complex, numerous smaller burial sites and hundreds of archeological features. Burial and historical sites are afforded protection under law,” the press release states.
      The county statement says that “after many months of listening, learning and developing a greater understanding of the many special sites at Kawa, the time has come for the County of Hawai`i to move forward in fulfilling its role. In order to provide responsible stewardship of Kawa, the County will be conducting an archaeological survey of cultural, historic and burial features on the property.
Lui spoke with ambulance personnel before leaving Kawa.
      “Access to Kawa will be limited while this archaeological survey is conducted. This limited access will be enforced by the Hawai`i County Police Department.
      “Social service agencies will assist anyone staying at Kawa with securing other living arrangements. Any structure on the property will be disassembled by workers from the county’s Department of Public Works.
      “Once the archaeological survey is complete, a management plan will be implemented to protect the cultural, historical and burial features of Kawa while allowing public access to learn about and enjoy this wahi pana, this special place,” the county statement says.
Lui drove himself away from Kawa, unaccompanied, toward Na`alehu. 
      Prior to the disassembling of structures, Hawai`i County Police were seen speaking with Lui and escorting him to a waiting ambulance at the main entrance to Kawa. After more discussion, a paramedic then escorted Lui across Hwy 11 to his car, which had been packed with his personal items, apparently with help from friends. Lui asked to retrieve his chicken and dog and police allowed a member of the public to retrieve them from his house site. Police escorted him to his car and Lui drove away, unaccompanied, toward Na`alehu.
      Once all members of the public were escorted from the Kawa property, County workers proceeded to build a barrier to limit access to the public during the “operation.” Archaeologists will commence with the survey once the property is safe and secure, according to county officials.

Representative image from ainakoapono.com
MORE `AINA KOA PONO TESTIMONY is going to the state Public Utilities Commission. Pahala homeowner and attorney Teresa Tico writes that the proposal for Hawai`i Electric Light Co. to purchase diesel from `Aina Koa Pono at a cost that would increase electric bills “is inconsistent with the public interest.” She points to the utility's profits soaring in the past year and notes that parent company Hawai`i Electric Industries’ CEO Connie Lau is “the highest paid CEO in the State of Hawai`i, higher than Bank of Hawai`i’s CEO. According to Forbes, her combined compensation for 2012 is $5.29 million dollars.
      “In light of the soaring profits to HEI and the unprecedented compensation package it pays its CEO, we must ask ourselves why we tax payers are paying the highest energy rates in the United States and why HEI isn’t footing the bill for the biofuel project.”
Teresa Tico
      She points out that Mayor Billy Kenoi “has gone on record stating that 'We need affordable alternative energy.' HELCO’s proposal is not affordable nor is it reasonable and necessary. It places the burden of an alternative energy that may not be good for the environment, on the ratepayers who can’t afford it, and returns the guaranteed profit to the corporation that is already enjoying soaring profits. `Aina Koa Pono’s goal is apparently to secure a contract with HELCO (and HECO, and HEI) in order to bolster its chances of financing a refinery that would ultimately be used for transportation fuel. This hui should not be allowed to use the customers of the electric company as its security for financing.”
      Tico also writes that approval could set a bad precedent. “The `Aina Koa proposal is to make fuel for one power plant but will result in hiking electric bills for people across the board, even for those not served by the Keahole power plant. How would the PUC handle similar proposals for biofuel contracts for other power plants –contract that would also raise rates across the board to finance them? How could the PUC protect the ratepayer if it sets this precedent.” She asks the PUC to deny the `Aina Koa Pono application.
      See Aina Koa Pono’s presentation at ainakoapono.com and the microwave depolymerization refinery presentation at the company website for Sustainable Biofuel Solutions at biofuels-solutions.com. See more testimony and the `Aina Koa Pono proposal at puc.hawaii.gov.

Chevron tang (pictured) is one of the ten most popular
tropical fish collected in West Hawai`i waters for aquariums,
according to DLNR.
Photo from animal-world.com
EARTHJUSTICE, THE CONSERVATION COUNCIL, THE CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY and the Humane Society of the United States filed suit yesterday in state court.
      They were joined by Willie and Kaimi Kaupiko, of Miloli`i, and other individuals. The suit contends that the state Department of Land & Natural Resources should have refrained from issuing aquarium fish collecting permits until environmental studies were completed. The suit points to the Hawai`i Environmental Policy Act, saying the DLNR should have examined impacts of fish and invertebrate collection permits under HEPA, particularly since the agency stated as early as 1998 that “studies to characterize the effects of removal of reef fish on the coral reef ecosystem are necessary if this activity is to continue.”
      Those filing the suit say they hope the court will suspend aquarium fish collecting until a study can be conducted. The complaint says that aquarium collecting on the west side of Hawai`i has increased more than 800 percent over the last 30 years and that “aquarium collectors had significant effects on the populations of seven of the ten aquarium collection fish species examined.”

Axis deer hunting could be allowed on
the Big Island.
Photo from eliteoutfitter.com
FIVE YEARS OF AXIS DEER hunting on the Big Island may be allowed by the state Department of Land & Natural Resources, no licensing, no bag limit. The issue comes up at this Friday’s Board of Land & Natural Resources meeting. DLNR estimates there are only about 100 of the illegally introduced axis deer here. They were shipped in by air/and or boat by people trying to improve hunting on the Big Island. Such activity, however, is a felony.
      The Big Island Invasive Species Committee sends out hunters five days a week and have come up with three deer so far. Anyone seeing the deer can call 443-4036.

WOLD HERITAGE ANNIVERSARY ROUNDTABLE today from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fairmont Orchid to celebrate Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s 25th year as a World Heritage Site and the 40th anniversary of the international World Heritage Convention. Admission and parking is free. RSVP online at eventbrite.com, or contact Jessica Ferracane at 985-6018 or jessica_ferracane@nps.gov.

GOURD WORKSHOPS WITH JELENA CLAY are offered Saturday, Oct. 27, at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Fees apply. For more, call 967-8222.

KA`OHANA O HONU`APO IS POSTPONING its free family music event, Kanikapila 2, that was scheduled for this Sunday, Oct. 28, at Honu`apo Park, according to the organization's executive director Lehua Lopez-Mau. “This event will be re-scheduled for early next year.”

PAU HANA WITH RICHARD ONISHI, a talk story meet and greet session is held at the Pahala Community Center on Sunday, Oct. 28, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. For more visit friendsforrichardonishi.com.

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS NOW OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.