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, January 04, 2012

Ka'u News Briefs Jan. 4, 2012

Honu`apo received funding for restoration from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Photo from The Nature Conservancy
HONU`APO ESTUARY WETLANDS is the recipient of $549,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Honu`apo is one of 24 projects in 13 states sharing in a portion of more than $20 million in funding, according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who made the announcement yesterday. “Coastal wetlands serve as some of nature’s most productive fish and wildlife habitat while providing storm protection, improved water quality, and abundant recreational opportunities for local communities,” Salazar said.
     Honu`apo is co-managed by the County of Hawai`i and Ka `Ohana O Honu`apo, a community organization founded by John Replogle, who helped lobby for funding to buy the coastal lands that were being sold off for development. The land runs from the Honu`apo pier to the raised lava flow toward Pahala and includes hundreds of acres of coastal lands, estuaries, historic sites and cliffs and bays.
     It is a favorite fishing and gathering place and refuge for sea turtles and other marine life, as well as migrating birds.

Volcanic activity could be the source of electricity for the Big Island
and beyond. Photo by Teresa Tico
GEOTHERMAL is expected to be touted as the energy of the future for the Big Island and beyond, as the Geothermal Working Group releases its final draft today in the office of Mayor Billy Kenoi. Geothermal Working Group co-chair Wally Ishibashi will present the report in detail, with supportive comments presented by the mayor. 
     Geothermal Working Group co-chair Richard Ha will discuss issues surrounding peak oil and its relevance to Hawai`i Island. Ha recently traveled to Iceland where he observed how the country recovered from the biggest financial crash in modern history. Ha stated, “They are recovering because they inoculated themselves from high oil prices by using low cost hydro and geothermal for 100 percent of their electricity and house heating. It is clear to me that had they used expensive biofuel to generate electricity, they would not be competitive in making aluminum for export. And instead of coming out of this disastrous financial situation, they would be facing years of depression. This is exactly why Hawai`i should not be using expensive biofuels to make electricity when we have low-cost geothermal,” Ha said in a press release from the mayor’s office.
Richard Ha, the geothermal advocate, on his
family farm.
     Ha was also sponsored by the County of Hawai`i to attend this year’s Association for the Study of Peak Oil Conference, which took place this past October in Washington, D.C.
     A biofuel project on some 13,000 acres between Pahala and Na`alehu was seen as a possible creator of numerous jobs in Ka`u, but the state Public Utilities Commission turned down the proposal that would have put a refinery up Wood Valley Road and trucked the fuel up Hwy 11 to a power plant in Kona. The PUC said that the `Aina Koa Pono proposal would have increased electric rates to customers and that proposals to reduce electric rates should be considered instead. `Aina Koa Pono says it may re-apply and has also talked about growing biofuel crops to refine into transportation fuel, which would not need PUC approval.

HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC Industries is now asking the Public Utilities Commission for permission to install solar panels on homes at no upfront cost to the homeowners. The plan is for the homeowners to save on electric bills through solar. The proposal awaits PUC approval.

MICHAEL DUBOIS, of Ocean View, has gained the support of Council chairman Dominic Yagong in demanding competitive bids when it comes to the county’s trash and recycling efforts. The issue is the new sorting station that the county plans to operate by investing $9 million and creating new county jobs. 
     According to a report in this morning’s Hawai`i Tribune-Herald, DuBois filed a complaint on Dec. 27 with the county Department of Environmental Management, asking the county to hold off on its new sort station in Hilo in order to call for proposals from the private sector. DuBois, who is known for cleaning up junk vehicles from throughout Ka`u, wrote, “The administration cannot simply expand government services without explaining to the general public islandwide what it intends to accomplish and what it will cost.” He said that the Department of Environmental Management “is in a conflict of interest; the administration is taking an unfair competitive advantage to expand government services rather than explore the possibility that the best possible services exist within the private sector. It is unfair to strike out early and establish an irreversible advantage over its competition and take control of the sort station,” wrote Dubois.
Dominic Yagong pushes for private bids for sorting and
recycling. Photo from Big Island Video News
     According to the Tribune-Herald story, county Environmental Management director Dora Beck said the county plans to go forward with the sort station and that a permit from the state Department of Health should be approved “any day now.” The county plans to extend the life of the Hilo landfill by removing most of the green, paper and organic waste before garbage is disposed there. Using mini-excavators and loaders, workers would sort out recyclables and the rest would be loaded into a truck for the landfill. 
     Both Dubois and Yagong point to private companies that want to install a Materials Recovery Facility and invest private money to build it rather than adding onto county cost and county jobs. The MRF proposals would allow the private companies to collect tipping fees and sell off recyclables.
     Yagong wrote a letter to Mayor Billy Kenoi yesterday, asking for the bidding process to go forward. According to the story Kenoi objected. The garbage plans may become one of the campaign issues should Yagong go forward with running against Kenoi in this year’s mayoral contest.

CAPTAIN ROBERT MOORE AND MEGAN LAMSON present an update on plastics in the ocean this Friday at 5 p.m. at the Volcano Art Center Niaulani Campus. Moore is the author of Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Ocean. Cassandra Phillips, who lives on the Big Island, is co-author. Moore was sailing his 50-foot catamaran from Hawai`i to California when he discovered the Pacific Garbage Patch, full of plastics and other trash from around the Pacific basin, concentrated in a gyre than circulates out at sea. Since the discovery, he has researched the damage discarded plastics are doing to the marine food chain as well as creating hazards to ocean life. Lamson works with Hawai`i Wildlife Fund organizing volunteer clean-up days along the Ka`u coast, where plastic washes up on shore.