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, June 17, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs June 17, 2012

Farmers are frustrated by lack of federally required state rules for pesticide use around water. Photo by Julia Neal
HAWAI`I IS THE ONLY STATE failing to comply with new federal regulations to control pesticides sprayed in and around waterways, according to a story in Civil Beat, quoting Environmental Protection Agency officials. “The delay is angering local farmers and state agriculture officials who for months haven’t been able to spray pesticides to control invasive species that are threatening native habitats or fight weeds that are choking out irrigation ditches,” the story by Sophie Cocke reports. 
      All states were mandated to come up with new permitting procedures under the federal Clean Water Act by last Oct. 31. However, Hawai`i health officials are delayed in their review of rules and process, and may not finish for another two months, the story reports.
     Gary Gill, deputy director for Environmental Health for the state Department of Health, told Civil Beat that the Health Department was hoping that Congress would eliminate the requirement altogether. “Pesticide spraying had been regulated under different federal laws, and those permits are still required. But spraying is blocked until the new Clean Water Act permit is also in place,” the Civil Beat story notes, leaving farmers, state and road crews and other users of pesticides vulnerable to legal action if they spray without the permit.
Weeds choke streams and irrigation ways in Ka`u, compromising water
for agriculture and conservation efforts. Photo by Julia Neal
      Civil Beat was told by EPA environmental scientist Elizabeth Sablad that pesticide users could face suits by environmental groups for spraying without permits. Russell Kokubun, chief of the state Department of Agriculture, told Civil Beat that the delay could hurt farmers and ranchers who depend on water from open ditches and flumes that require spraying to prevent them from clogging. Also affected are conservation groups attempting to spray for invasive weeds in areas where they are attempting to plant and protect native plant species.
      The Department of Health is currently working on responding to public comments on its proposed pesticide rules. The Hawai`i Farm Bureau opposed the new oversight nationally, contending that it places a burden on farmers with another layer of bureaucratic tape, the Civil Beat story says. However, according to Civil Beat, Kokubun, who is also a former farmer and was a leading champion of local agriculture as a state senator, said that he thought regulating pesticides under the Clean Water Act was a good thing, and noted that the state has known for years about the requirements.
       “I don’t think this caught anybody by surprise,” said Kokubun. “Obviously, if the EPA is saying we were the only state not to comply, the others were well aware of the situation and took the necessary steps to address it.” See more at civilbeat.com.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie
GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE signed more bills into law on Friday. In addition to the agriculture bills reported on yesterday, Abercrombie signed the following bills: 
      House Bill 1764 allows state and county officials to waive residency requirements for department heads, deputies and assistants when a candidate with highly specialized or scientific knowledge is unavailable locally; 
      House Bill 2476 makes appropriations for claims against the state or its officers or employees;
      House Bill 2848 requires the Department of Public Safety to plan for a model wellness center that employs native Hawaiian cultural practices on state land;
      Senate Bill 2228 establishes an electronic tracking system for the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in the street drug ice;
      Senate Bill 2508 amends filing deadlines for preliminary disclosure reports to the Campaign Spending Commission;
      Senate Bill 2632 relieves all timeshare sales from having to be recorded in the land court. The recording goes instead into the general system;
      Senate Bill 2797 makes permanent changes to the psychotropic medication statute that ensures access to medically necessary psychotropic medications while allowing cost-effective strategies.
      The governor has signed 128 bills passed by the 2012 state Legislature. The deadline is June 25 for him to notify the Legislature of any bills he may veto. July 10 is the deadline for Abercrombie to enact measures with his signature. For a complete list of measures enacted by the governor, visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov/report.aspx?type=acts.

REQUIRING EMERGENCY PLANS for possible geothermal accidents goes to a final vote at the County Council on Tuesday. However, Hawai`i County’s new Civil Defense chief Ben Fuata says that the county’s existing incident command system already provides sufficient evacuation procedures, according to a Tom Callis story in this morning’s West Hawai`i Today.
      The story notes that Fuata said last month he would come up with a plan for the existing Puna Geothermal plant and conduct a drill, but later reviewed the existing plan and found it acceptable and a drill unnecessary. He said that, should other geothermal plants be built on the island, he will study them to see if additional emergency planning is necessary. According to the West Hawai`i Today story, the Civil Defense director described a geothermal incident: “It’s the same protocol we would follow as if one of the fuel tankers (exploded),” he said.
      The bill, proposed by County Council chair Dominic Yagong, would require a site-specific plan for any geothermal within 90 days of it starting operations.

Midway Island, a sanctuary for albatross that can live and reproduce for
more than 60 years, has so far escaped arrival of debris from the Japan
tsunami. Hawai`i Wildlife Fund is also on the lookout for debris coming
to Ka`u. Photo by Andy Collins/NOAA 
MIDWAY ATOLL, with its wildlife sanctuary, may have dodged tsunami debris from the Japan tsunami. U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials report they are prepared but have not seen the kind of debris that is washing up, like several fishing boats that landed on Washington and Oregon beaches and the large ship that drifted offshore of Alaska. 

HAWAI`I HEALTH CARE CONNECTOR will be the name of the new Hawai`i state-based insurance exchange. Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced last week that Hawai`i will be the first state to sign up for this component of the Obama health care reform law, which requires states to set up such exchanges by 2014. He said he recently notified the U.S. Health and Human Services Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight about the formation of the private, nonprofit corporation to establish the exchange as a quasi-government entity.

Kenneth Makuakane
KENNETH MAKUAKANE shares original songs from his latest albums, The Dash, White Bath Tub, Makuakane and other award-winning composition Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The concert is free, and park entrance fees apply.