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, March 17, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 17, 2013

Richard Ha testified that cattle ranching would be displaced from Ka`u lands targeted by AKP. Photo by Julia Neal
FARMER RICHARD HA is a witness in the Public Utilities Commission’s `Aina Koa Pono case. He testified last week on behalf of Hawai`i County, regarding the proposed 20-year contract between `Aina Koa Pono and the electric companies that would allow the purchase of biodiesel at an estimated $200 a barrel. It would be manufactured in Ka`u at a refinery proposed for land along Wood Valley Road. The fuel would be trucked to Hawai`i Electric Light Co.’s power plant near Kona Airport.
      Ha is President of Hamakua Springs Country Farms and is known for reinvigorating the banana industry on the Big Island and growing tomatoes and other truck crops. He is also a supporter of geothermal energy, saying that low electric rates will help the economy and help the poor. He is a member of the state Board of Agriculture.
      Ha testified: “We should not lock ourselves into a $200 (per barrel) subsidy for 20 years.” He pointed to a study, presented to the Association for the Study of Peak Oil 2012 convention by an International Monetary Fund economic research team led by Dr. Michael Kumhof. Wrote Ha, it “shows that a decline rate of only 2% (reduction in oil) a year could result in 20% reduction in world GDP over a 20 year period. We need to proactively allow ourselves flexibility to cope with worst-case possibilities. The AKP biofuel proposal leaves Hawai`i with few options,” charged Ha.
Richard Ha, a successful food farmer, testified for the County regarding AKP.
      He testified that “We should not trade food for fuel. The Ed Olson land that is now proposed for biofuel production is mostly occupied by cattle raising. There isn't enough sun energy to accommodate both cattle raising and energy production on the same parcel of land. If the AKP project is to go forward the cattle must be removed. AKP claims this project will reinvigorate agriculture in the area. It probably will not. When cellulosic biofuel projects were first proposed on the mainland, the projects set a target of $45 per Ion for the feedstock. Because farmers were getting $100/ton for hay, they asked for and received a $45 per ton subsidy.    
      “At a Big Island Community Coalition meeting with the AKP team, I asked the AECOM (AKP’s consulting engineers) representative, how much they expected to pay for biofuel feedstock, here on the Big Island. He said, between $55 and $65/ton. The problem is Big Island farmers were getting $200 per ton for hay. It is doubtful that farmers will accept between $55 and $65 per ton for growing the feedstock when mainland farmers required $100/ton.
      “This does not sound like a good deal for farmers. Manufactured food comes from the mainland using cheap electricity. AKP's $200 per barrel price makes Hawai`i food product manufacturers less competitive. This threatens Hawai`i's food security.
      “I asked Dr. Cari Bonham, the Executive Director of the University of Hawai`i Economic Research Organization, if we on the Big Island use geothermal as our primary base power would we become more competitive to the rest of the world as oil price rose. He said, that was fair to say. Geothermal generated electricity costs half that of oil generated electricity and, because the feedstock is steam, its cost will be stable for as long as the Big Island stays over the "hot spot" which is 500,000 to a million years, according to both Dr. Don Thomas, Geochemist, Director of Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes Ph.D., University of Hawai`i and Dr. Jim Kauahikaua, director of the Hawai`i Volcanos Observatory."
Ha testified that the AKP option threatens food security. Photo by Julia Neal
      Ha was asked, “What have you concluded with respect to the public interest of the Biofuel Supply Contract?” He testified that “Placing the financial burden on the people of Hawai`i to enable an unproven technology, is assuming too much risk. Sometimes, instead of attempting to be first in the world, it may be wiser to be good at copying the first in the world. The Big Island has one of the lowest median family incomes in the state of Hawai`i. Education is the best predictor of family income. Big Island schools have been paying a 25% premium for electricity compared to O`ahu for as long as people can remember. That 25% premium comes right off the education budget.
      “The AKP project of high-priced, subsidized- by-the ratepayer biofuel will not contribute to raising median family incomes. It will do just the opposite! Two thirds of our economy is made up of consumer spending. AKP, because it results in higher rather than lower electricity rates, takes away discretionary income, the basis of consumer spending,” concluded Ha. See all the testimony at www.puc.hawaii.gov. Click on `Aina Koa Pono and on documents.

EAST KA`U STATE SENATOR RUSSELL RUDERMAN joined a parade in Hilo yesterday, along with about a thousand marchers and several Ka`u residents, calling for a ban on food grown from Genetically Modified Organisms, for the legislature to require GMO labeling, and for companies like Monsanto to stop leasing farm land in Hawai`i to grow GMO's. Ruderman said the state needs to be involved because GMO companies have too much influence over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He said that Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto attorney and vice-president, is chief of the FDA. He also said that until the recent leadership change in  the state legislature, GMO bills went nowhere. Now, GMO bills are being heard, said Ruderman.  He said House Bill 174, which would require labeling GMO foods, is still alive. Citizens can weigh in by going to www.hawaii.gov, looking up the bill and writing testimony.
Dean Nagasako, at the front of the anti-GMO parade in Hilo yesterday,
 grew up in Pahala.  Photo by Julia Neal
     Ruderman said that GMO companies, worldwide, are gaining control of food production. Locally, he said, they are farming about a fifth of the best agricultural lands in Hawai`i and are looking to control water rights. He said most of GMO plants grown in Hawai`i, like seed corn, are exported. "The fact is, we haven't fed ourselves All of their work doesn't feed us. GMO's use 100 to 1,000 times more poisons than other crops and poisons kill the reefs and poison groundwaters, while taking away farmland from food self-sufficiency," contended Ruderman.
     The senator said that GMO's can also be stopped through buying power. "That's what happened in Europe. When 5 percent of people stopped buying GMO, companies changed the ingredients they used."
     Ruderman said that yesterday's march in Hilo was the biggest he recalls for any issue in recent years. It was followed by a non-GMO potluck and speeches at Mo`oheiau Bandstand, including talks by taro expert Jerry Konanui and anti-GMO activist Walter Ritte from Moloka`i. 
     Among Ka`u residents participating in the march were Democratic Precinct Chair Sara Witt, former KAHU Radio deejay Dean Nagasako,  and Ka`u Specialty, Inc. coffee broker Malian Lahey, who kept rhythm for the walkers on a drum. 

Ruderman said it was the largest protest march in Hilo he could remember.
Photo by Julia Neal
KA`U’S REPRESENTATIVE TO THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, joined Candy Crowley’s State of the Union news show on CNN this morning for a discussion on Iraq: Ten Years Later.
      Gabbard said she was serving as a state legislator “going surfing on the weekends, and then all of the sudden found out that this deployment of close to 3,000 Hawai`i troops was happening to Iraq. I was not on that first mandatory deployment roster, but knew very quickly that there was no way that I could stay home in the comfort of my house and in Hawai‘i and watch my brothers and sisters deploy – and recognizing the necessity to stand with them as they went off to combat. The experience completely changed my life and was a very big motivator in recognizing what are the true costs of war.” 
   On lessons in Iraq and the threat from North Korea, Gabbard said: “Our miscalculation there [was] fighting this unconventional threat – these unconventional terrorists who know no allegiance to a specific flag or a country – with very conventional tactics. I think that as we look to the past, and as we look forward to the future, we look to the threats that we are facing today, for example, North Korea…. Countries that have very specific capabilities, that have nuclear weapons, that have missiles that are within range of places like Hawai‘i and Alaska, where the people in my community are very concerned about what kinds of actions we will take.”
Tulsi Gabbard, Ka`u's member in Congress and Republican congressman Tom
Cotton, of Arkansas, on Candy Crowley's State of the Union on CNN this 
morning. Image from CNN
      On serving our veterans and addressing VA backlog, Candy Crowley asked Gabbard,  “Do you think the VA is doing its job?” Gabbard replied, “No, not to serve every single veteran that is coming in, both the new generation of veterans from those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as those who have served in Vietnam, who have served in Korea, and other conflicts in our past. Without a doubt, we need to do better. We need to do better in Congress to make sure that we as a country are fulfilling our responsibilities to these veterans who have sacrificed so much, and to their families, and to get the respect and services that they have earned.” She said it is important that she can work with veterans who are serving in Congress and the U.S. Senate. “It really is going to take all of us having a concerted focus, commitment, and effort to make sure that the resources are there and that the focus and attention does not wane if it is not at the top of the headlines,” said Gabbard.

KA`U RURAL HEALTH COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION’S Board of Directors has announced funding from the HMSA Foundation to support the Ka`u Rural Health Academy Program. The demonstration project focuses on health, education, research opportunities and economic sustainability. Jessie Marques E.D. said the program will: provide and promote health education and prevention with a Health & Wellness education initiative; establish a Youth Mentoring Program that fosters health career pathways, education, training and employment opportunities; and introduce consumers to the use of health information and technology in the healthcare industry.
      Theresa Richardson, Office Manager, and Rochele Gacayan, Program Assistant, were recently hired. More information about the program will be announced at the Ka`u
Rural Health Community Association’s 16th Annual Rural Health Conference on Friday, April 12 at Pahala Community Center.

Ann Fontes is one of the kupuna who built an `ukulele of koa.
Photo by Julia Neal
MORE THAN 30 `UKULELE went home with Ka`u young people and kupuna yesterday. The `ukulele build at Pahala Plantation House was sponsored by KoAloha `Ukulele company, Keoki Kahumoku’s Center for Hawaiian Music Studies, Pahala Plantation Cottages, Queen Liliu`okalani Childrens Center, the Edmund C. Olson Trust and Ka`u Coffee Mill. KoAloha craftsman taught the local students the art of building an `ukulele from native Hawaiian koa wood donated for the project. The build was followed by a concert combining bluegrass and Hawaiian music at Pahala Plantation House. Some of the `ukulele building students played for community members along with Kahumoku and bluegrass musicians on stand up bass, banjo, mandolin, dobro, fiddle and guitar, as well as the new `ukulele.

A SEED EXCHANGE and Garden Talk Story is today until 3 p.m. at Na`ohelelua Historical Church on Kama`oa Road near Discovery Harbor. Call 988-6011.

A ST. PATRICK’S DAY BUFFET is today from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kilauea Military Camp’s Crater Rim Café. Shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, beer-boiled potatoes, whiskey carrots, salad bar, ice cream bar and beverage. $17.50 per person.