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, January 31, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Jan. 31, 2013

 Volunteers removed more that 7,300 plastic fragments from Kamilo Beach during Hawai`i Wildlife Fund's first Ka`u Coast cleanup for 2013 on Jan. 12.  Photo from Hawai`i Wildlife Fund
`AINA KOA PONO is planning to bring a 33-ton-a-day microwave depolymerization unit to its planned refinery site off Wood Valley Road for testing within the “next several months,” according to a press release issued by AKP this morning. “As you may recall,” says the press release, “AKP’s plan is to convert biomass into a crude oil using modular units of a microwave process, compressing to about an hour what in nature takes thousands, even millions of years. Our goal is a drop-in biofuel that will replace fossil fuels and provide a co-product of biochar which can be used as a soil amendment.
`Aina Koa Pono plans to bring a 33-ton per day Micro
Dee unit to Ka`u within the next several months. Shown
here is a 5-ton unit in North Carolina.
      “Our plan is to start with one 33-ton-a-day unit so the community can see and understand the Micro Dee (Microwave Thermo Catalytic Depolymerization) process in place. AKP and its engineering, construction and procurement partner, AECOM Technology, are focused on final plans for this trailerable unit; we’re performing final validation on technology so investors are confident as we move ahead. We expect to locate the 33-ton unit in Hawai`i within the next several months and be operational before second quarter, 2014.
      “We will use the unit to run further engineering tests, perfect energy balances and test local feedstock to see which is most appropriate. The 33-ton unit will serve as the basis for expansion to our larger biofuel operation. “Once the unit is operational, we will be better able to determine if an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement is required,” the press release states.

NA MAMO O KAWA is the tentative name of a community group that hopes to work with all parties involved with the future of Kawa. Local fireman Lui Sales and University of Hawai`i land use student Pueo McGuire, grandson of Pele Hanoa, both grew up in Ka`u and surf Kawa. They spoke yesterday during a county-sponsored meeting on the future of Kawa.
       The more than 700 acres along the coast between Punalu`u and Honu`apo is now in county hands. The two young men talked about bringing about peace between families and all those who claim rights to the place. They talked about Kawa staying low-key and respecting its traditional use by people who live in Ka`u.
      Karen Teshima, an executive assistant to Mayor Billy Kenoi who led the meeting, described Kawa as a “special place” and said her own family heritage has ties there.
      Teshima said that the county, as the steward of Kawa since its purchase from private property owners, decided to conduct an archaeological survey and “let Kawa settle.” She said she was there to listen to all the people.
The future of Kawa drew a large crowd with many points of view to Na`alehu Community Center last night. Photo by Julia Neal
      Wilma Holi flew in from Hanapepe, Kaua`i and said a similar situation is taking place at Hanapepe surrounding the native Hawaiian salt pan area along the coast. She said that while Hawaiian families want to continue the traditional use of the area, newer community members want a bicycle trail and a place to walk their dogs.
      She also called for peace among Hawaiians who are making claims to the area. “Don’t quibble,” she advised. Those families who don’t want to participate in the future of Kawa should step back. Those who want to be involved should work together, she recommended.
      People speaking at the meeting presented many points of view. A large group came to support Abel Simeona Lui, who lived at Kawa for more than 20 years when it was owned by several private property owners. They talked about “Uncle Abel” providing lua (portable restrooms) at the beach and welcoming the surfers there over the years. Some said that Lui should be returned to live there.
    One woman said that her family had Native Hawaiian ties and burials at Kawa and had been friendly with him in the past but that “Uncle Abel” more recently became hostile and intimidating to the family.
      Lui denied being hostile and talked about his children being “born on the land,” at Kawa. “My children’s piko is over there on the land.” He talked about growing sweet potatoes for the surf meets and said there are about 100 ipo (gourds used for hula instruments) drying there. Lui claimed that he is in the Supreme Court still fighting over ownership of Kawa.
Wilma Holi flew in from Kaua`i and said to the
community, "Don't bicker." Photo by Julia Neal
      Several of his supporters talked about his eviction, calling it illegal, saying there should have been more notice and that evicting a native person off the land is illegal under federal law.
       “Who like me off the land? Who like me off the land?” asked Lui. He read from letters of support urging the return of “Uncle Moses and Uncle Abel to the land at Kawa to take care of it.” His supporters clapped their hands and blew conch shells.
      A number of people talked about the current county practice of Kawa being gated and closed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and hiring police to protect it, saying there was never any need to pay anyone to protect Kawa in the past.
      Kauanoa Hoomanawanui, state burial site specialist for the Big Island, said she is also a descendant of Ka`u. She said during a site inspection for reconnaissance, a two-day sweep, archaeologists came across many burials, which make Kawa “almost useless to development.” She called it a “burial preserve.”
      She said she wants to open a discussion with the community. “If you know of anyone buried there, fill out a descendency claim. She urged the community to become part of the planning for Kawa.
      Several speakers noted that in 1980 the courts decided that there will be permanent public access to Kawa, but the county recently blocked access. Surfers, fishermen and other community groups filed suit to recover traditional access more than 30 years ago and won.
    Pueo McGuire, who worked for Sen. Dan Akaka in Washington, D.C. and currently works for Office of Hawaiian Affairs in land planning while finishing his college work, said he has been going to Kawa his whole life to “surf, fish and practice my religion. I learned what it means to be from Ka`u there. I learned what it means to be Hawaiian there. The only time I have been prohibited from going to Kawa is this winter when county put up their (gates).”
      He called for cooperation. “We are all looking for common ground. It is about Kawa, not about us…. The plan should be about those who really use it…. Twenty-four hour beach access is essential to Hawaiian culture. It does not start at 6 a.m. and stop at 6 p.m.,” said McGuire. He called for inclusive, cooperative planning.
      John Kahiapo, from the state Department of Land & Natural Resources, said his agency is particularly interested in water – the anchialine pools and estuary. He said there is a plan to survey native fish, estuaries and habitats. “We don’t have any baseline study. We don’t know what is in the estuary or anchialine pools.” He said this kind of survey sometimes “comes up with organisms you can’t find anywhere else.”
      Several speakers brought up the redevelopment of old plantation water sources mauka of the coast. “How about streams that have been shut down?” one speaker asked, claiming that by putting all the water in pipes, there are streams that are no longer being fed.
      Lui Sales cautioned the county about planning too much infrastructure at Kawa. “Building big roads will invite plenty guys. We don’t want publicity,” he said. “For many of us, it it is kind of bummers.” He said the local people want continued access to surf, camp and fish. “Keep Ka`u country, and keep Kawa low-key and solid,” he said. He sized up the needed infrastructure as rubbish bins and luas. The mayor’s representative said there will be more community input as the surveys are completed.

Joni Mae Makuakane-Jarrell NPS photo by Jay Robinson
RANGER JONI MAE MAKUAKANE-JARRELL is the new chief of Interpretation at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and oversees visitor services and educational and cultural programs at the park. She is the first native Hawaiian to serve in the position. 
      Makuakane-Jarrell has worked at all five national park units on Hawai`i Island during her 32-year park service career. She began as an interpretive ranger at Hawai`i Volcanoes through the Young Adult Conservation Corps and worked her way through the ranks, becoming the park’s supervisory ranger. Makuakane-Jarrell then worked as the interpretative specialist at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park with her late husband, park ranger Steve Makuakane-Jarrell and served as a law enforcement specialist at Pu`ukohola Heiau National Historic Site.
      “One of my visions for the park is sharing all the traditional Hawaiian names of places here,” Makuakane-Jarrell said. “Hawaiians are very keen observers, and when they name things, it usually tells the story or history of the area. By using these given names, it helps protect, honor and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.”
      Before becoming chief of Interpretation, Makuakane-Jarrell served for eight years as educational specialist for Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. She coordinates the annual Cultural Festival, now in its 33rd year, and piloted the first Summer Junior Ranger Program. She also started the Na Leo Manu concerts and `Ike Hana No`eau cultural workshops at the park.
      “Joni Mae brings an ideal combination of perspective into the important position of chief of Interpretation,” said park superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Her strong background of Hawaiian values and culture, combined with her leadership skills and dedication to the park’s mission, and significance as a World Heritage Site, will serve the park and its visitors very well.”

More than 1.5 tons of debris were removed from Kamilo Point Jan. 12.
Photo from Hawai`i Wildlife Fund
FIFTY-ONE VOLUNTEERS JOINED Hawai`i Wildlife Fund on Saturday, Jan. 12 to help remove more than 1.5 tons of marine debris from Kamilo Point along the Ka`u Coast. Twelve volunteers from the Japanese Environmental Action Network, the Japan Ministry of the Environment, the University of Kagoshima and other Japanese NGOs concerned about March 11, 2011 tsunami debris helped out. A representative from the Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C. and a designer from London volunteered. 
      On Saturday, Feb 23 - Ocean Day - Malama Kanaloa will be held at Hilo Bayfront. Saturday, March 16 brings a cleanup event to the Ka`u Coast. Saturday. May 25 is Hawai`i Wildlife Fund’s Annual Manuka NARs Cleanup Event. Space is limited, so RSVP soon.
      Ongoing anchialine pool restoration and invasive plant species removal workdays are held every month. Contact Megan Lamson at kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com or call 769-7629.

EVERY FEBRUARY, Ka Lae Quilters and Red Hat Ladies of Ka`u raise funds to support improvements to the Ka`u Hospital’s emergency room. Tomorrow, they hold a bake and craft Sale at the hospital at 10 a.m. Another sale is set for next Friday and Saturday at 8 a.m. at Punalu`u. Contributions are welcome. Call Barbara Beatty at 929-9072.

Author Tom Peek holds a writing workshop Saturday.
Image from Volcano Art Center
TOM PEEK, AUTHOR OF Daughters of Fire, offers a workshop open to all levels and genres Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. No writing experience is necessary. Fee is $85 or $76.50 for VAC members. Call 967-8222 to sign up. 

BOYS & GIRLS CLUB supporters can cheer on Youth of the Year winners and raise money for the club through the purchase of tickets to the Youth of the Year banquet a week from tomorrow on Friday, Feb. 8 at 5:30 p.m. at `Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo. The event features inspirational speakers, awards, food and auction items. Individual tickets are $70 each. To purchase tickets in Ka`u, call Boys & Girls Club board member Julia Neal at 928-9811.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Jan. 30, 2013

Ka Lae Quilters and Red Hat Ladies of Ka`u begin their month of fundraising activities for Ka`u Hospital
 Emergency Room on Friday with a craft and bake sale at the hospital. Their annual spaghetti dinner is
 scheduled for Feb. 23. Photo by Julia Neal
STATE SENATOR JOSH GREEN, whose district extends through West Ka`u, chairs the Senate Health Committee and has introduced a slew of measures to the 2013 Hawai`i Legislature, from bills to control firearms to reducing taxes for low-income people and establishing a tax on sweetened beverages. Many were co-introduced with East Ka`u Sen. Russell Ruderman.
      SB 932 would prohibit any person who is a danger to self or danger to others from possessing, having custody or control of, receiving, purchasing, or attempting to receive or purchase firearms or other dangerous or deadly weapons. It would create a reporting system for persons who seriously threaten a readily identifiable person or persons to a mental health professional. It would require the Department of Public Safety to create a database and list of persons prohibited from possessing, having custody or control of, receiving, purchasing, or attempting to receive or purchase firearms and other dangerous or deadly weapons, which would be accessible to law enforcement, mental health professionals and sellers of firearms. It would require the Department of Public Safety to make a list of persons whose license for firearms or other dangerous or deadly weapons has been revoked.
      SB 69 would appropriate $100,000 to the county police departments to initiate a gun buy-back program. 
      SB 98 would reduce the tax liability for low-income people by creating a tax credit that would reduce a person’s income tax to zero when federal adjusted gross income falls below federal poverty guidelines. It would reduce a person’s income tax liability by 50 percent when federal adjusted gross income falls between 100 and 125 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
     SB 201would authorize the director of Business, Economic Development & and Tourism to allow the sale of motor vehicle gasoline that does not contain ethanol unless sufficient quantities of locally produced ethanol or biofuel crops have been produced and are available to meet the requirements under existing law.
     SB 481 would establish the Instructional Office of Hawaiian Studies for the purpose of providing instruction to public school students on Hawaiian history, culture, arts, and language.
      SB 610 would direct the state Department of Education to name the next completed public high school the Daniel Ken Inouye High School.
Sen. Josh Green
     SB 616 would prohibit smoking at public bus stops, parks, beaches and in vehicles when a minor is present in the vehicle. 
     SB 1999 would establish a two-year Hawai`i colorectal cancer screening pilot program using the Hawai`i comprehensive breast and cervical cancer control program as a model.
      SB 343 would require the state director of Health to participate in the national oral health surveillance system. It would permit dental hygienists to apply preventive sealants in a school-based dental sealant program. It would require the state Department of Health to establish and administer a school-based dental sealant program in a high-need demonstration school and report to the Legislature about the department’s efforts to prioritize prevention of tooth decay. It would appropriate funds to the program, including plans to implement the program on a statewide level.
     SB 638 would require all cellular telephones, including refurbished and remanufactured cellular telephones, sold or leased by a retailer in the state to bear a label that warns consumers of the potential dangers of electromagnetic radiation emitted by cellular phones.
     SB 59 would increase the monthly board rate distributed by the department of human services for foster care services for children.
     SB 639 would reclassify pseudoephedrine as a schedule V drug that would only be dispensed with a prescription. It would exempt cold products that contain other active ingredients, with certain conditions. Requires pharmacies to maintain pseudoephedrine-related records for five years. Pseudoephedrine is a crucial chemical in the making of METH or ICE.
     SB 640 would prohibit manufacture, sale, or distribution of child-care products and toys for young children that contain bisphenol-A or phthalates beginning Jan. 1, 2014. It would require manufacturers to choose safe alternatives. It would prohibit use of packages and packaging containing lead, cadmium, mercury, and hexavalent chromium beginning Jan. 1, 2014. It would prohibit Hawai`i Health Systems Corp. from purchasing and using vinyl intravenous solution bags and vinyl tubing beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
     SB 643 would mandate that all public school teachers receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation training and certification.
     SB 646 would establish a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, syrup and powder with the revenues generated to be deposited into the community health centers special fund and the trauma system special fund.
      SB 647 would adopt the California Environmental Protection Agency emission standards for low-emission vehicle standards beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
      SB 1238 would establish the maternal mortality review committee to conduct comprehensive reviews of maternal deaths in Hawai`i, which would include collecting, analyzing, and disseminating maternal mortality information. It would require the committee to hold meetings and submit an annual report with findings and recommendations to the Legislature.
      The bills are available online at capitol.hawaii.gov/memberpage.aspx?member=green.

Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono
THE CONSUMER ADVOCATE for the state of Hawai`i has issued new questions for `Aina Koa Pono and the utility companies planning to build a refinery in Ka`u to manufacture diesel for the Kona power plant. Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono asks for the identity of people responsible for preparing responses to the questions asked about the AKP process and financial plan, and the identity of any witness who would be responsible during any evidentiary hearing. He also asks for specific reasons for withholding any “privileged” information about the AKP project. AKP and the utility companies have withheld the price of the fuel in the proposed 20-year fixed price per gallon contract that would raise electric bills on O`ahu and the Big Island. 
      The Consumer Advocate asks for the hui to “state all claimed privileges and objections to disclosure; state all facts and reasons supporting each claimed privilege and objection; state under what conditions the Company is willing to permit disclosure to the Consumer Advocate (i.e. protective agreement, review at business offices, etc.), and if the Company claims that a written document or electronic file is not discoverable…identify each document or electric file…date, author(s) and addressee(s).”
      The Consumer Advocate also asks whether any additional infrastructure will be necessary to burn biodiesel supplied by AKP. He asks about the source of all inputs used in Hawai`i Electric Co.’s calculations and how they compare with inputs in HECO’s Integrated Resource Planning. Ono also requests an updated projected sales forecast and discussion on how it compares to the forecast in HECO’s integrated Resource Planning. He also asks for discussion on whether HECO has performed any analysis on the quantity and unit cost of firm resources (geothermal, use of oil and biofuel) assumed to be needed to complement intermittent resources (wind, solar and hydro).”
      The Consumer Advocate’s information request and other documents on the case are available at puc.hawaii.gov. Docket number is 2012-0185.
      Deadline for the utilities and AKP to respond is Feb. 15.

The Directory 2013 is now available
throughout Ka`u.
MANAGEMENT OF KAWA and the more than 700 acres acquired by the county for a park and natural resources protection will be the subject of a meeting this evening at 5 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. Representatives of Hawai`i County have been meeting with the families with connections to the coastal area that is Ka`u’s favorite surfing beach as well as a shoreline fishing, hiking and picnicking area. The meeting is co-sponsored by the state Department of Land & Natural Resources.

THE DIRECTORY, the annual publication of The Ka`u Chamber of Commerce, is now available at many business and other public locations around Ka`u. The guide to Ka`u with business, community organization and governmental listings also features photos and stories of Ka`u. It can be found at CU Hawai`i Federal Credit Union offices in Pahala and Na`alehu, Bank of Hawai`i in Pahala and other locales across the district. Funds raised from advertising in The Directory are used for scholarships for Ka`u students. 

RED HAT LADIES OF KA`U and Ka Lae Quilters hold a Bake and Craft Sale at Ka`u Hospital on Friday at 10 a.m. Proceeds support improvements to the hospital’s emergency room. Contributions are welcome. Another sale is set for next Friday and Saturday at 8 a.m. at Punalu`u. Call Barbara Beatty at 929-9072.

Tom Peek Photo from VAC
TOM PEEK HELPS WRITERS GET their stories, poems, essays and ideas out of their heads and onto the page at a workshop Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Open to all levels and genres; no writing experience is necessary. Fee is $85 or $76.50 for VAC members. Call 967-8222.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Jan. 29, 2013

A public meeting on the future of Kawa takes place tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center.
Photo by Julia Neal
HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC CO. will abandon its proposed 4.2 percent ($19.8 million) rate hike for 2013, according to a statement issued yesterday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie. It says the state and HECO reached a settlement “that will result in the withdrawal of a rate increase request for Hawai`i Island and a significant reduction in taxpayer dollars requested to cover project costs.”
      The settlement filed with the PUC on Jan. 28 outlines an agreement between the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Division of Consumer Advocacy and HECO, including subsidiaries Maui Electric Co., Ltd. and Hawai`i Electric Light Company, Inc.
      “With high oil prices driving up electricity and other costs throughout our economy, we have to take action to help Hawai`i’s families and businesses who are struggling to make ends meet,” Abercrombie said. “While this settlement will help in the short-term, we remain committed to pursuing long-term solutions toward clean energy alternatives.”
        HECO and subsidiaries will also reduce by $40 million the amount being sought for improvements to two major projects –the 110-megawatt biofuel generating station at Campbell Industrial Park on O`ahu and a new customer information system.
       In addition, HECO will also delay filing a 2014 rate case that was originally scheduled to be filed this year under the current regulatory framework for reviewing its rates.
       Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono said, “This settlement will benefit consumers and help reduce the ever-increasing cost of electricity.”
      The statement made no mention of a separate electric bill increase proposal by the utilities involving the proposal to build a refinery in Pahala to make biofuel.

COUNTY OF HAWAI`I IS DRILLING DOWN on `Aina Koa Pono specifics. The county is further questioning `Aina Koa Pono’s plan to produce diesel in Ka`u for a power plant in Kona. In a new round of information requests that were filed with the Public Utilities Commission, released yesterday, county Corporate Counsel Lincoln Ashida and County Attorneys William Brilhante, Jr. and Laureen Martin ask for presentations AKP makes to potential financiers. The county attorneys also make a statement about the plan to raise electric bills to pay for AKP: 
      “Having long-term contracts at high prices is attractive in any industry, but when electricity prices in Hawai`i are already the highest in the nation and eroding other industry-sector profits, there may be a net-negative effect to the economy from such contracts. Please explain the rationale behind raising electricity prices to support a single new industry sector that may decrease the profitability of other sectors.”
Hawai`i County asks for energy balance evaluations of the
AKP project, including delivery of biofuel to its final
destination. Photo from Mansfield Oil Co.
      The county also asks for Hawai`i Electric Light Co., Hawaiian Electric Co. and AKP to provide “energy balance evaluations for this project’s comprehensive process: beginning with agricultural inputs (manufacture, transportation to the islands) to agricultural production, harvest and processing of biomass intermediate steps and final production formulation, and delivery of biodiesel to its final destination.” The final destination is Keahole Power Plant and possibly other locations where the diesel would be used for transportation fuel.
      The county asks for details on how the proposed new microwave depolymerization process works, from engineering schematics to confirmation “of techno-economics and mass/energy balances.” The county asks for data from “demonstrated pilot operations (presumably from the North Carolina TekGar/SBS demonstration facility), including documentation of the number and duration of runs on which data are derived.”
      The county writes that if data are based on “feedstocks different than those anticipated to be used by AKP, then please include a description of how the composition of each type of feedstock compares, and what data are available on AKP’s anticipated feedstock.”
      The county also asks for descriptions “of how issues such as potential catalyst poisoning/regeneration might be handled (if relevant).”
Hawai`i County asks for more information on the
Micro Dee process.
      The county asks: “Does the MicroDee process directly produce biodiesel following the microwave depolymerization step or is the product pyrolysis oil that requires further upgrading to biodiesel? If the latter, then what is the composition of the pyrolysis oil (and variability in this composition based on the proposed feedstock or multiple anticipated feedstocks), what facilities will be required to upgrade the pyrolysis oil, will these facilities be on-site (and if not, where will upgrading be performed), and what will be the source of hydrogen to obtain the final biodiesel product?”
      The county attorneys ask: “Could this product be called green diesel or simply renewable diesel?”
      “Have any additional transportation costs and raw material (especially hydrogen) costs been incorporated in the analysis?”
      The county asks AKP and the utilities to present the “predicted final overall economics.”
      “When electricity is finally made by the proposed process, is the net energy balance positive or negative, and is the total amount of petroleum input per kilowatt-hour more or less than if the electricity had been made by using the petroleum directly, or if the biomass were simply burned?”
      “Is there a potential that this project will potentially increase the islands’ reliance on imported petroleum?”
Hawai`i County asks for more information on feedstock AKP would use
as biomass to refine biofuel.
      The county also asks AKP and the utility companies to identify the specific feedstocks that AKP proposes to grow on the land between Pahala and Na`alehu. “Assuming it is a grass, has this grass previously been cultivated as a commercial crop on the island? If not, have trial plots been grown at all? If so, then please describe the size, location, soil characteristics, altitude, ground slope, and actual rainfall at these plots.
      “If there is no prior commercial experience with this grass, please describe the program to introduce this grass and to determine its optimal agronomics – including anticipated amounts of fertilizer, potential disease and insect pressure and how this will be managed, response to differing soils/altitudes/slopes/rainfall amounts.”
      The county notes that “multi-year projects have been undertaken on the mainland to subsidize farmers as they gain experience with a new crop – switchgrass – including a recently complete four year project … which, by the way, has left farmers at a loss whether to continue growing switchgrass.”
      The county attorneys ask: “Has the AKP/MircroDee process been tested on that particular biomass/feedstock (as different kinds of biomass can give very different results)?”
      The county asks for comparative anticipated biomass yields per acre with actual experience in Hawai`i. “Convert these actual yields into estimates of how many cultivated acres will be required, and how many total acres this implies – along with required infrastructure (roads), supply yards, storage.”
      The county notes that if “AKP proposes making 16 million gallons (of diesel from feedstock grown) on 12,000 acres, the AKP numbers imply production rates of 1,333 gallons per acre (per year). It’s obvious this is much higher than other sources, about three times more productive than palm oil…. Please explain such productivity.” The county points to the AKP website saying that the Big Island facility would generate approximately 3,500 gallons of biofuel per acre - seven times more productive than biodiesel from palm oil. The county asks the utilities and AKP to describe how the projection of 3,500 gallons per acre is derived.
      The county asks from where AKP’s projected 900 dry tons of feedstock that would be needed per day of feedstock would come. “How many cubic yards of harvested material is this equal to or simply how many wet tons of feedstock do you have to produce to make a dry ton of biomass? (A dry ton is often confusing as you cannot grow dry biomass, and you have to grow, harvest, transport and handle a lot of wet material in order to end up with a ton of dry biomass),” the county attorneys write. 
      Should AKP plan to purchase feedstock from farmers, the county asks, “please provide the projected amount that growers will be paid per dry ton of feedstock.” The county attorneys ask, “How does this compare with possible alternative fuels (i.e. – opportunity cost)?”
      “Will AKP enter into a 20-year contract with growers? How will AKP handle situations where there is crop failure, inadequate yield and/or if growers decide to produce other crops?”
      The community group Life of the Land and other government agencies are also asking more questions of AKP and the utilities. See www.puc.hawaii.gov and click on documents under `Aina Koa Pono.
      The utility companies and AKP have until Friday, Feb. 15 to answer the county’s questions.

Sen. Roz Baker
THE STATE SENATE Committees on Commerce and Consumer Protection and Energy and Environment held an informational briefing this morning in the state Capitol auditorium to receive information on factors that impact electric rates, the rate-making process and to identify potential solutions to reduce the adverse impacts of increasingly high electric rates on consumers statewide.
       “As electrical rates continue to climb, it is important for us to look for ways that could reduce rates and help lessen the burden of high utility costs on our constituents,” said Sen. Roz Baker, chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.
       A statement said the committee is interested in information about efforts to create an integrated electrical grid using available renewable energy and firm power to benefit consumers with lower rates and reach our green energy goals efficiently and cost-effectively.
Tonight's After Dark in the Park focuses on volcano
monitoring equipment. Photo from USGS/HVO
       “We want to hear the strategies the PUC and the utilities plan to use to incorporate more renewable energy onto the grid,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment. Invited to participate were Public Utilities Commission Chair Mina Morita, Consumer Advocate Jeff Ono,
      Hawaiian Electric Co. vice president Robbie Alm; Hawai`i Electric Light Co. president Jay Ignacio and the heads of the Kaua`i and Maui electric utilities.

VOLCANO AWARENESS MONTH continues at After Dark in the Park this evening when Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s chief technical support specialist Kevan Kamibayashi explains the installation and operation of HVO’s various monitoring sensors and how their signals are sent back to the observatory from remote locations. The free program at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park begins at 7 p.m. $2 donations support park programs, and park entrance fees apply.

Ka`ohu Monfort demonstrates la`au lapa`au.
Photo from NPS
LA`AU LAPA`AU IS THE TOPIC tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Kilauea Visitor Center’s lanai in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Ka`ohu Monfort shares her knowledge of how Hawai`i’s native plants, including noni, kukui and olena can heal and nourish. The program is free, and park entrance fees apply. 

HAWAI`I COUNTY AND THE STATE Department of Land & Natural Resources hold a public meeting on the future of Kawa tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. County representatives have been meeting with local families to help plan the management of the more than 700 coastal acres recently acquired by the county through state and federal funding to protect estuaries and through county property taxes.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Jan. 28, 2013

Merle Becker and a donkey greeted USA Today writer and photographer Laura Bly to Aikane Plantation Coffee Co.
Photo by Laura Bly for USA Today. See www.usatoday.com
KA`U COFFEE INSPIRED A FULL PAGE STORY over the weekend in USA Today, the largest circulating newspaper in the country. USA Today claims to have more than 3.2 million readers.
      Reporting from Pahala, writer Laura Bly begins at Ka`u Coffee Mill, quoting a visiting Texas health food store owner Shelly Oerlemans saying she will “travel far and wide for a great cup of coffee. Her latest destination: the Ka'u (say "KAH-ooh") Coffee Mill, surrounded by rows of coffee and macadamia nut trees on the windswept slopes of the Big Island's Mauna Loa volcano.”
          Bly writes that “The brews dispensed here — which starry-eyed connoisseurs describe as ‘chocolate, cherry and coconut, accompanied by floral notes of orchid and citrus’ — are generating nearly as much buzz as their more famous cousins from the Kona coffee region, a two-hour drive to the northwest. And with price tags commanding $20 to $100 a pound, they're part of a percolating business that's luring Hawaiian vacationers way off the standard Mai Tai circuit.”
       The story quotes Ka`u Coffee Mill’s Brenda Iokepa Moses saying, "Most of our farmers are in a beautiful situation: They're selling out as soon as they produce their coffee." The story reports that Ka`u Coffee Mill “welcomes as many as 100 visitors a day to a tasting showroom that opened last March.”
       Bly reports that “This year marks the 200th anniversary of coffee cultivation in Hawai`i, and bright red "cherries" (dead ringers for cranberries) are grown and processed on each of the state's five major islands.
Flyn' Hawaiian Coffee van made 3.2 million circulation USA Today over the
 weekend with a photo by writer and photographer Laura Bly.
See www.usatoday.com
       “But the heart of Hawai`i's $31 million-a-year coffee industry is on the Big Island, where a combination of rich volcanic soil and ideal climate — sunny mornings and misty afternoons, with wet summers and cool, dry winters — has translated to ideal growing conditions," the USA Today story reports.
       In a section titled “Roots clear back to 'papa,'” USA Today describes another Ka`u Coffee farm.  She writes about a pair of donkeys, Madeline and Jasmine, who "constitute the official greeting party at `Aikane Plantation Coffee Company, one of about 50 small farms that are transforming the economic landscape in the Big Island's sparsely populated Ka'u region.
       “Though Ka'u's coffee industry took off when the area's sugar cane plantations folded nearly two decades ago, its roots go back much further — in Aikane Plantation's case, to co-owner Merle Becker's great-grandfather 'Papa' J.C. Searle. Today, Merle and her husband Phil combine cattle ranching with coffee growing from the same trees 'Papa' planted in 1894.
       “Visitors who manage to find the place — tucked off an old sugar cane road that connects the small towns of Na`alehu and Pahala — are welcomed with award-winning java, a taste of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts or peaberries (single, rare coffee beans prized for their taste) and a free tour of their 150-acre spread.
       Bly writes: “From picking to pulping, the business of coffee is clearly tough work — but one infused with passion."
      The story also mentions the Ka'u Coffee Festival, this coming April 27-May 5 and Kalaekilohana Bed & Breakfast Inn as one of the places to stay when visiting Ka`u Coffee country. The online photos include a shot of famous Ka`u Coffee farmer Lorie Obra and both online and print editions show the Flyn’ Hawaiian Coffee van in Na`alehu. See more at www.usatoday.com.
Lorie Obra at her award-winnning Ka`u Coffee farm is included in the
online USA Today photos by Laura Bly.
`AINA KOA PONO’S PROPOSAL before the Public Utilities Commission has received another round of comments and questions from Life of the Land. The community group was given an intervener status on Friday, which means it can become more involved in the court-like proceedings on whether to approve the proposal that would allow a 20-year contract between Hawaiian Electric Light Co. and Hawai`i Electric Co. for a fixed-price purchase of biofuel from `Aina Koa Pono.
      AKP plans to cut trees, shrubs and grasses between Pahala and Na`alehu to make pellets to feed into a microwave refinery it plans to build just off Wood Valley Road. The clearing would be followed by an effort to establish a biofuel farm on land that includes thousands of acres of cattle pasture. The contract would mean higher electric bills on O`ahu and the Big Island. The plan is to truck the diesel to the power plant in Kona.
      Life of the Land questions a HECO and HELCO statement that the AKP proposal is reasonable and in the public interest. “How is that possible?” asks Life of the Land.
    The organization also points to the utilities’ statement in justifying `Aina Koa Pono’s plan: “It is probable that it will be easier to achieve higher levels of renewable energy generation on islands other than O`ahu.”
      Stated Life of the Land, “That statement is certainly in HECO’s interest but is it reasonable and in the public interest in light of the U.S. Department of Energy report that the recoverable ocean wave energy off O`ahu can supply ten times the electricity consumed statewide?” Life of the Land pointed to another statement that O`ahu can produce almost 1,000 MW of photovoltaic; and University of Hawai`i scientsts’ assertion that O`ahu can have several 100 MW OTEC facilities.
The pastures on and around Makanau table top mountain would become part of the `Aina Koa Pono biofuel farm, which would truck
diesel from its refinery off Wood Valley Road up Hwy 11 to the HELCO power plant. Photo by Julia Neal
      The brief filed by Life of the Land pointed to the acreage that biofuel farms would need to generate enough fuel for electricity. It said that using `Aina Koa Pono’s projection of how much biofuel could be produced per acre, over 65 percent of the agricultural land on O`ahu would be needed to supply that island’s energy needs.
       Life of the Land asked about the potential of other energy sources. “Does HECO/HELCO dispute the estimates of the potential renewable energy available on O`ahu for photovoltaic?”
      “Does HECO/HELCO dispute the estimates of the potential renewable energy available on O`ahu for wave?”
      “Does HECO/HELCO dispute the estimates of the potential renewable energy available on O`ahu for OTEC?” Life of the Land asked HECO/HELCO to “Please provide all documentation that O`ahu lacks sufficient renewable energy resources to provide all of its renewable energy needs.”
      HECO/HELCO responded: “The Companies have no documentation that, with certainty, either supports or refutes that ‘O`ahu lacks sufficient renewable energy resources to provide all of its renewable energy needs.”
      Regarding the 20-year, fixed-price contract that AKP and the utilities desire, Life of the Land pointed to a statement by the utilities that they “had discussions with AKP regarding the possibility of shortening the term of the 20-year AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract. However, AKP’s financiers indicated that the project could not be financed for a term shorter than 20 years.”
A sovereignty flag flies over Kawa when Abel
Simeona Lui visits. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
Life of the Land asked for a “list of all financers HECO/HELCO met with re AKP. Please provide all documentation that HECO reviewed as part of its due diligence analysis regarding this statement and asked “Is this response based on your discussion with AKP financers?”
   Regarding the biofuel farm that AKP plans to develop, after cutting trees, shrubs and grasses to process in its refineries, Life of the Land asked, “Is the existing acreage bare or vegetated? What soil additives will be needed? What pesticides and in what quantities will be used? What fertilizers and in what quantities will be used? Haw any crop testing involved genetically-engineered crops?”  See more on the PUC discussion at www.puc.hawaii.gov, under the `Aina Koa Pono docket.

AFTER DARK IN THE PARK on Tuesday will feature Hawaiian Volcano Observatory chief technical support specialist Kevan Kamibayashi who will explain installation and operation of monitoring sensors. He will describe the way signals are sent to the observatory from remote locales. The presentation will be in Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park at 7 p.m. Two-dollar donations appreciated and park entrance fees apply.

THE FUTURE OF KAWA is the subject of a public meeting to be held by Hawai`i County and the state Department of Land & Natural Resources this Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. County representatives have been meeting with local families to help plan the management of the more than 700 coastal acres recently acquired by the county through state and federal funding to protect estuaries and through county property taxes. 
   Kawa is the main surfing beach for Ka`u and a place for shore fishing and hiking. It has been the subject of a land dispute in which Abel Simeona Lui claimed ownership through his family lineage and Native Hawaiian sovereignty rights over the property where he lived for some 20 years, but lost his claims in court. He said he will attend the meeting and his flag can be seen flying over the property when he visits Kawa.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Jan. 27, 2013

More than 300 young people up to 14 years of age participated in `O Ka`u Kakou's annual Keiki Fishing Tournament at Punalu`u yesterday. Photo from Fred & Mary Ramsdell
GAME ANIMALS COULD BE CONSERVED and managed by the state if a proposal by East Ka`u state Rep. Richard Onishi goes into effect. The proposal, House Bill 104, calls for an amendment to Article XI of the Hawai`i State Constitution to include game animals on state lands as resources to be managed and conserved by the State.
      The Nature Conservancy submitted testimony against the proposal stating, “While we agree that game animal resources need to be wisely managed, both for their benefits and the risks they pose, we don’t believe a state constitutional amendment is necessary or warranted to achieve this goal…. Certainly, reasoned discussion and planning is important to determine where and how to manage game animals, including significant areas for both enhanced game animal production for public use and enjoyment, as well as game animal removal for native species, habitat, watershed, public health, private property, and agricultural protection. However, there is no shortage of game animals throughout the islands, no chance whatsoever that they could be eliminated from the state – nor should they be – and no risk that hunting opportunities will disappear from vast tracts of state and private lands.”
The Nature Conservancy testified against a state constitutional
amendment that would include game animals on state lands as
resources to be managed and conserved by the state.
Photo from yourdiscovery.com
     Should the bill start gaining traction at the Legislature, The Nature Conservancy recommends that any constitutional or statutory change “must clearly state both the benefits (food, recreation, etc.) and the risks (native species and habitat loss, watershed damage, public and private property loss, disease) from game animals, and that some of these benefits and risks need to be weighed differently in different geographies on the islands.”
      Another testifier, Ann Kobsa, wrote that “passage of this bill would be a disaster for native Hawaiian ecosystems! I work very hard to try to reduce the pig population in the area of my farm, and I am next to State Forest Reserve so I hope my efforts make a difference there. I removed 18 pigs from this forest in 2012. I watch as patch by patch the destructive pigs convert native forest to weeds. Even though I am a subsistence farmer and hunter, living entirely off my land, I value native ecosystems over free, easy game animals, which are not free at all but come at a great cost to nature.
    “The axis deer especially must be eradicated, and all introduced ungulates should be eliminated or reduced on all the state lands where native plants and animals remain, to maximize the chances that native species will survive,” she wrote.
`O Ka`u Kakou provided food for all at yesterday's Keiki Fishing
Tournament at Punalu`u. Photo from Fred & Mary Ramsdell
      The bill would add “game animals” to language in the state constitution that says, “For the benefit of present and future generations, the State and its political subdivisions shall conserve and protect Hawai`i’s natural beauty and all natural resources including land, water, air, minerals and energy sources, and shall promote the development and utilization of these resources in a manner consistent with their conservation and in furtherance of the self-sufficiency of the State.” The words “game animals” would be inserted in the list of protected natural resources between “water” and “air.”

GIVING AGRICULTURAL ENTITIES A BREAK on electric bills is one of the goals of East Ka`u state Rep. Richard Onishi. He introduced House Bill 1449 last week, and it passed first reading. It would establish a pilot program to determine whether preferential electricity rates for agricultural activities would better aid in the sustainable perpetuation of local agriculture in Hawai`i.

FUNDING FOR COFFEE BERRY BORER research, House Bill 353, was co-introduced by Onishi and Coffman to fight the pest that is plaguing the Hawaiian coffee industry.

FUNDING FOR FUTURE FARMERS OF AMERICA and 4-H programs through the Department of Education and University of Hawai`i College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources was introduced by Onishi as House Bill 486. The bill says that “the Legislature finds that supporting local agriculture is a strategic public investment that will build community resilience and strengthen the productive base of the economy. The current lack of young farmers and ranchers with the experience, skills, and ambition to undertake the rigorous and complex work of farming and ranching as a business poses a significant hurdle to revitalizing local agriculture. To address this problem the Legislature finds that rebuilding existing programs that educate, support and encourage youth for agriculture careers, specifically Future Farmers of America and 4-H programs, is a timely and efficient means of achieving community resilience and sustainability.” The bill passed first reading and will be heard by the Agriculture and Finance Committees. 

MORE THAN 800 VOLUNTEERS gathered data from the shores of Punalu`u and South Point at Ka Lae and on selected places on O`ahu, Kaua`i, and Hawai`i Island during Saturday’s annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count.
Yesterday's Sanctuary Ocean Count was the first of three opportunities to
volunteer this year. Future dates are Feb. 23 and March 30.
Photo by Barbara LaCorte/NOAA
      The count is a yearly shore-based census that provides snapshot data on humpback whales. Participants tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the survey. Volunteers collected data from 59 sites statewide. A total of 267 whales were seen during one of the 15-minute time slots from 11:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m, the most of any time period throughout the day’s count (57 sites reported data). Weather conditions and sea states were ideal for viewing humpback whales, but vog made seeing whales at a distance difficult. Preliminary data detailing whale sightings by site location is available at: http://www.sanctuaryoceancount.org/resources/
     While no whales were seen this morning at Punalu`u, as many as five were spotted at Ka Lae during a number of the counting periods that repeated every 15 minutes between 8 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.
      Two more Sanctuary Ocean Counts are scheduled to take place on Saturdays, Feb. 23 and March 30. For more information on becoming a Sanctuary Ocean Count volunteer, visit sanctuaryoceancount.org or hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov or call 1-888-55-WHALE ext. 253.
      The sanctuary, which is administered by a partnership of National Oceanic Administration Agency’s Office, National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawai`i through the Department of Land and Natural Resources, protects humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaiian waters where they migrate each winter to mate, calve, and nurse their young.

Youngsters practice their skills at the keiki fishing pond.
Photo from Fred & Mary Ramsdell
MORE THAN 800 PEOPLE GATHERED around the tidepools, ponds and nearshore waters during low tide yesterday at Punalu`u, with more than 300 young people up to 14 years of age joining in a fishing contest. The community group `O Ka`u Kakou provided the barbless fishing hooks and bamboo poles. More than 600 small fish were pulled from the water, placed in buckets to be measured and thrown back in the water, according to OKK member Fred Ramsdell. Fishing gear and other prizes were given to every participant. Free food for all included shave ice, hot dogs, chips, fruits and vegetables. This was the fifth annual Keiki Fishing Tournament to draw a large group to the estuaries and tidepools at Punalu`u for the contest. Ramsdell said there was “great participation from the community for setting up and taking down the event facilities.”
Wayne Kawachi, at left, and Guy Enriques, with microphone, hand out
prizes at `O Ka`u Kakou's annual Keiki Fishing Tournament at
Punalu`u yesterday. Photo from Fred & Mary Ramsdell
      Educational displays from the state Department of Land & Natural Resources taught participants about legal and illegal fishing practices, providing many handouts on the rules. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers also had a booth. The crowd brought canned food for the food bank, and Keoki Kahumoku emceed and entertained.

AT TUESDAY’S AFTER DARK IN THE PARK program, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s chief technical support specialist Kevan Kamibayashi explains the installation and operation of HVO’s various monitoring sensors and how their signals are sent back to the observatory from remote locations. The free program at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park begins at 7 p.m. $2 donations support park programs, and park entrance fees apply.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Jan. 26, 2013

A bill introduced by Rep. Denny Coffman focuses on beach access and protection from encroachement.
BUDDY SOARES, the father of Ka`u rancher Kyle Soares, is honored with state and U.S. flags flying at half-mast throughout Hawai`i today. In addition to a career with Pan American and Aloha Airlines, Amfac, Hawaiian Electric and University of Hawai`i, Wilfred Clinton “Buddy” Soares won election to the state House of Representatives in 1966 and joined the state Senate in 1975, serving through 1986. A Republican, he was known for his feisty style and humor, handed down to his son, who speaks on Ka`u issues at many public meetings. Soares was 83 when he passed away late last year. Services are today on O`ahu.
      Gov. Neil Abercrombie, in ordering the flags to be flown at half-mast, said, “Buddy Soares was what every legislator should aspire to be – knowledgeable, open to all, a friend to everyone, a master of relationships, and able to close on any contentious issue leaving everyone content that they were treated fairly. It was a genuine pleasure to serve with Buddy. Just seeing him put a smile on your face. If aloha can be said to describe anyone, that person was Buddy Soares.”

Rep. Denny Coffman
BEACH ACCESS & PROTECTION FROM ENCROACHMENT is the focus of one of West Ka`u state Rep. Denny Coffman’s bills introduced to the 2013 Hawai`i State Legislature. Coffman’s House Bill 17 would require maintenance of public beach access by adjacent landowners and imposes penalties for noncompliance. It would establish shoreline access as an objective of the coastal zone management program. It would require the state Department of Land & Natural Resources to provide written notice to affected property owners. The bill was heard yesterday at the state Capitol by the Committee on Water & Land. It passed the committee unanimously. 
      One testifier called the measure “a valuable tool to protect the public’s right to beach access. He said his own neighborhood experienced homeowners decreasing the size of the beach by introducing plantings in the sand. “We have also found, in some cases, that the plantings cause beach erosion similar to seawalls.”
      Other testimony came from James E. Coon, a member of Ke Kahu O Na Kumu Wai, the Marine and Coastal Zone Advocacy Council. “Establishing public access to the shoreline is one of the important objectives of the Coastal Zone Management Program,” wrote Coons.
      Another testifier focused on the intrusion onto public beaches by private landowners. “Pristine, world class sandy beaches are now lush, private, vegetative oases. This measure can provide the tools needed to stop the premature loss of highly valued public trust lands, the beach,” wrote Caren Diamond. She pointed to irrigation and fertilizer being used to establish “thick unnatural strands of vegetation on the beach.”

SOBER UP BEFORE BEING RELEASED is the plan for people arrested for Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and illegal drugs. House Bill 66, introduced by West Ka`u state Rep. Denny Coffman, would clarify the imposition of conditions to ensure that persons arrested for DUI are sober prior to being released from custody. The bill passed first reading on Jan. 17 and has been referred to the Judiciary Committee.

REPEALING THE PUBLIC LAND DEVELOPMENT CORP. LAW is a Coffman bill. Coffman said he made a mistake earlier, voting for the legislation that gives private developers the opportunity to use state-owned land without the oversight of the county. House Bill 1133 would repeal it, and it passed first reading.

A bill by Rep. Denny Coffman would make feed-in-tariff systems more
available. Image from thinkprogress.org
SUPPORT FOR LOCALLY GENERATED ELECTRICITY and more efficient use of energy by consumers drives a Coffman bill that would make the feed-in-tariff system more available to independent energy producers. The bill would incentivize “a class of, or classes of, eligible customer-generators who generate electricity and upon meeting utility requirements are compensated at current Public Utility Commission established tariff rates for electricity fed back to the electric grid.” 
      The legislation says that increased use of renewable sources to generate electricity “would increase Hawai`i’s energy self-sufficiency and achieve broad societal benefits, including increased energy security, diminished vulnerability to oil price increase, enhanced sustainability, economic development and job creation.” It says, however that the “current net-metering system does not encourage energy efficient behaviors and does not incorporate recovery for costs for transmission and distribution infrastructure, grid reliability and other costs that are typically included in usage rates.” In addition to more net metering, the bill seeks to encourage people to use “solar or heat pump hot water, energy star appliances, lower power consumption in lighting and other energy efficient behaviors.”

FOOD SAFETY is another Coffman bill. House Bill 279 would establish a Food Safety Task Force within the Department of Agriculture to study and recommend methods to prepare for compliance with the federal Food Safety Modernization Act and food safety management practices within the state. On Jan. 22, the bill passed first reading and has been referred to the Agriculture and Finance Committees.

A MONEY BILL for drought mitigation has also been introduced by Coffman. House Bill 281 passed first reading and was sent to the Agriculture, Water & Land and Finance Committees of the state House of Representatives. The bill says, “The legislature finds that a viable agriculture industry requires a steady, reliable supply of water. However, drought conditions continue to adversely affect Hawai`i’s farms and ranches, hampering the state’s ability to produce quality products on a consistent bases throughout the year.” The justification for the bill says that drought committees were formed at the county level and that funding for the drought mitigation projects would be provided to the local government in each county.

Rep. Denny Coffman is seeking funding for coffee berry
borer research.
COFFEE BERRY BORER research would be funded under another Coffman Bill that would underwrite a program at the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center to develop methods for the prevention and treatment of coffee berry borer infestation. Grants in aid would come from the state agriculture development and food security special fund.

VIDEOCONFERENCING to allow Ka`u and other rural communities to testify via video camera is supported by Coffman, who introduced Bill 358. It would require both chambers of the Legislature to implement rules to permit residents to present testimony through audiovisual technology. It would provide funding to establish audiovisual systems throughout the state.

KA`U HOSPITAL would benefit from another Coffman bill. House Bill 417 would provide $2.8 million to the Hawai`i Health Systems Corporation to implement and sustain its primary care training program at the Hilo Medical Center. This program is expected to also provide physicians in Ka`u. The bill passed first reading and was sent to the Health and Finance Committees.

HELPING THE HOMELESS GO HOME is a bill introduced by Coffman. House Bill 533 would establish a return-to-home program to assist eligible homeless individuals to return to their home states when there is a support network able to receive them and care for them. The bill would help finance the logistics and transportation.

STOP SMOKING, LIVE HEALTHY is a message imbedded in a Coffman bill in the state House of Representatives. House Bill 540 requires the state employer-union health benefits trust fund to require all the health plans to give a break on co-payments to those employees and retirees who do not smoke. It also considers deductions for other risk lowering behavior.

Possible geothermal sites, in red stripes, include hot spots near South
Point and between Pahala and Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park
in the Ka`u Desert.
HAWAI`I ELECTRIC LIGHT CO. has filed a proposed final Geothermal Request for Proposals with the Public Utilities Commission. The company is seeking approval to issue the 50-megawatt Geothermal RFP and begin the bidding process for potential geothermal resource developers.
      “This is a significant next step toward adding more renewable energy and lowering costs for our customers,” said HELCO president Jay Ignacio. “As an important part of the process, we must ensure any project thoroughly addresses environmental and cultural concerns from our community.”
      In a statement, HELCO said it is seeking to add up to 50 megawatts of geothermal power at prices not tied to the cost of oil “to help lower electricity costs for customers. The added power must also blend operationally with other resources, including renewable energy from wind, solar, biomass and hydro.”
      The Geothermal RFP pursues technologies that provide renewable, dispatchable energy and firm capacity, to allow the utility to schedule and control output from the geothermal plant. “This will support HELCO’s integration of intermittent renewable resources such as wind or solar while maintaining reliable service for Hawai`i Island customers,” the statement says.
      Once a final RFP is approved by the PUC and opened to bids, bidders have 60 days to respond. HELCO expects to make a selection 120 days after bids are due.
      Additional information, including the complete proposed schedule, may be found at geothermalrfp.helcohi.com.

TOMORROW IS A SIZZLIN’ SUNDAY at Kilauea Military Camp in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Bowling is $1 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Crater Rim Café has specials from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with short ribs and lu`au-style ono for $13.50 or teri chicken meal deal for $8.95 including dessert and beverage. Open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply. 


Friday, January 25, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Jan. 25, 2013

Families took part in last year's annual `O Ka`u Kakou Keiki Fishing Tournament at Punalu`u. This year's tournament takes place tomorrow. Photo by Julia Neal
VICTIMS OF THE FIVE-FATALITY CAR CRASH Wednesday on Hwy 11 at Punalu`u Bridge, between Pahala and Punalu`u, have been all identified. Their deaths leave many questions as to what caused the horrific accident – an unfathomable suffering loss to local and visiting families.
      Was it the old and narrow bridge on state Hwy 11 that gives many people pause whenever they cross it - two vehicles at a time? Did the visitor who was driving steer to the right to hug the side of the bridge when he saw the wide truck coming, then over-adjust when the concrete wall of the bridge seemed too close? Did the driver, who was reported to have some heart problems, experience a heart attack or stroke? These are some of the questions circulating in Ka`u.
       No one may ever know the answers, but dead are Richard Taylor, 65, and Trini Evengelista Ballesteros, 56, of Na`alehu. Dead are a grandfather, son, and grandson, leaving two grieving women who lost three generations of men in their family in one horrible accident.
      The visitors were identified yesterday as Donald Ingoglia, a 73-year-old attorney from Sacramento, CA; his son, 39-year-old Philip A. Ingoglia, of Costa Rica; and the nine-year-old grandson, Isidora I. Ingogila, of Costa Rica.
      The grandfather and his wife were regular visitors to the Big Island, and the family was staying in Keauhou at a condominium.
      County Council member Brenda Ford said she will look into the accident and the safety of the bridge and that concerned citizens could contact the state Department of Transportation and their state legislators.
      Police said speed was not a factor in the crash.

Sen. Russell Ruderman
SEN. RUSSELL RUDERMAN announced his program for the 2013 state Legislature yesterday, the last day for bills to be introduced. 
      Proposals help to foster renewable energy, including Senate Bill 368, called the Solar Loan Guarantee Program & Revolving Fund. It would allow homeowners to secure a loan guarantee from the state for loans made for solar energy devices, including photovoltaic and solar water heating. The measure would also make solar investments available to lower- and middle-income households, lowering their energy costs.
      Senate Bill 379, called Virtual Net Metering, would allow renters and property owners to purchase solar electricity at an offsite location and receive credit to their meter and utility bill for the renewable energy produced at the remote location. “This would expand access to solar power and extend this opportunity to those who currently can’t take advantage of it,” says a statement from Ruderman.
      Senate Bill 366, called Utility Interconnection & Grid Saturation Cap, would remove barriers to photovoltaics by requiring the utility – not homeowners – to pay for any interconnection study for 10 kilowatt or smaller systems to hook up to the grid.
      Senate Bill 372, called Biodiesel-Blended Fuel, would require increasing levels of biodiesel in all on-road diesel sold in Hawai`i starting from a B5 blend in 2015 to a B20 blend in 2025. Unlike ethanol, said Ruderman, “biodiesel is being produced in Hawai`i, and these blended rates do not harm engines.”
      Senate Bill 371 would repeal Act 97 to “return control to the county and community and strengthen home rule,” Ruderman writes. He said that Act 97 passed in 2012 “as a way to fast-track geothermal development in Hawai`i. It stripped the counties of land use control and opened all lands in the state to geothermal development.”
     Senate Bill 375, called a Fracking Prohibition, would ban any hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Hawai`i “until proper oversight and permitting are established. Fracking can inject harmful chemicals into the earth and has been linked to earthquakes, groundwater pollution, and other impacts,” said Ruderman.

Sen. Russell Ruderman promotes advancement of agriculture in Ka`u
and Puna. Image from The Kohala Center
ADVANCEMENT OF AGRICULTURE in Puna and Ka`u would be the result of state Senate Bill 380, proposed by Sen. Russell Ruderman. It calls for a learning center assessment by the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management at University of Hawai`i-Hilo for a higher-education learning center in Puna. “This effort will advance development of agriculture production and processing businesses in the district and support entrepreneurs and new job creation in Puna and Ka`u,” he said. 

SENATE BILL 363 is called the Family Farm Income Tax Break. It would exempt the first $50,000 in annual income to individuals earning their primary income from farming.

SENATE BILLS 373 AND 367 involve Direct Farm to Consumer Food Sales and Home-based Food Production and Sales. They would exempt producers of unprocessed Hawai`i-grown agricultural products from state Department of Health rules when selling directly to the consumer and allow home-based baking businesses to sell food items directly to consumers provided certain conditions are met.

TAXING GMO SEED SALES is another Ruderman initiative. SB 365 would eliminate the exemption to the state’s General Excise Tax currently extended to GMO seed export crops grown in Hawai`i on an estimated $225 million in gross income per year.

SENATE BILL 370 attempts to gain more protection of agriculture products against invasive species. It would require a permit from the state Department of Agriculture to import, introduce or develop any new species of genetically engineered organism. The department would conduct a public hearing to determine whether to grant a permit.

BANNING ALL AQUARIUM FISH COLLECTING is another proposal from Ruderman. SB 374 would prohibit the taking of reef fish for sale for aquarium purposes.

A bill proposed by Sen. Russell Ruderman would require
both chambers of the Legislature to provide opportunities
for video testimony from neighbor islands.
NEIGHBOR ISLAND VIDEO TESTIMONY, proposed by Ruderman as SB369, would require both chambers of the Legislature to implement rules to permit residents to present testimony through audiovisual technology. 
      Ruderman said he encourages everyone to get involved by following legislation and providing testimony on these and other bills by registering at www.capitol.hawaii.gov/login/register.aspx; by subscribing to hearing notices and by providing testimony. He said the public can contact him by phone, email or mail to voice concerns about District 2, Puna through Ka`u, and also about state-wide legislation.
      His email is senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov. His phone numbers are 808-974-4000, ext. 6-6890 and 808-586-6890. His mailing address is State Capitol, 415 S. Beretania St., Room 217, Honolulu, HI 96813.

BOYS & GIRLS CLUB supporters can cheer on the Youth of the Year winners and raise money for the club through the purchase of tickets to the Youth of the Year banquet which will be held on Friday, Feb. 8, 5:30 p.m. at `Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo. The dinner will feature inspirational speakers, awards, food and auction items. Individual tickets are $70 each. To purchase tickets in Ka`u, call Boys & Girls Club board member Julia Neal at 928-9811.

THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE today released its Final Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for Protecting and Restoring Native Ecosystems by Managing Non-Native Ungulates in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park
      The plan provides a park-wide framework to systematically guide non-native ungulate management activities in a manner that supports long-term ecosystem protection, supports natural ecosystem recovery and provides desirable conditions for active ecosystem restoration. It also supports protection and preservation of cultural resources.
Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park plans to manage non-
native ungulates with complete boundary fencing of
Kahuku and `Ola`a rainforest. Image from NPS
      The plan says the preferred alternative to manage ungulates includes a progression of management phases, monitoring and considerations for the use of management tools; a population objective of zero non-native ungulates, or as low as practicable, in managed areas; complete boundary fencing for Kahuku and `Ola`a rainforest; and potential use of localized internal fencing to assist in the control of non-native ungulates. “Control techniques would be primarily lethal, but non-lethal techniques could also be considered,” the report says. Volunteer programs would continue, but modifications would be required for lethal removal programs to meet current NPS practices.
      The plan/EIS is available online at http://park-planning.nps.gov/havo_ecosystem_feis. After a required 30-day waiting period following release of the plan/EIS, the National Park Service will finalize its choice of alternative in a record of decision.

`O KA`U KAKOU’S 5th annual Keiki Fishing Tournament and Canned Food Drive takes place Saturday, with check-in from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Punalu`u Beach Park. Fishing begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 11:30 a.m. Free lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and awards and prizes are handed out at 1 p.m.
      Registration forms are available in Pahala at Pahala Elementary School, Mizuno Superette and Pahala Gas Station; in Na`alehu at Na`alehu Elementary School, 76 Gas Station and Ace Hardware; in Wai`ohinu at Wong Yuen Gas Station; and in Ocean View at Ace Hardware and Kwik Mart.

Patti Pease-Johnson offers a workshop on experimental watercolor.
Image from volcanoartcenter.org
EXPERIMENTAL WATERCOLOR is the topic of a workshop tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Patti Pease-Johnson offers this new, innovative class where intuition and a playful attitude are part of the creative journey. Each student creates three to five separate 8”X8” watercolor paintings on hot press paper using broken glass as a catalyst. $40/$36 VAC members plus $10 supply fee. Call 967-8222 to sign up. 

A HULA KAHIKO INFORMANCE takes place tomorrow from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Kumu Leilehua Yuen and Manu Josiah present a 50-minute narrated demonstration of preparation, protocol and offering of traditional hula and chant at the hula platform. Hands-on cultural demonstrations are available from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Donations are welcome, and park entrance fees apply.