HAWAIʻI IS ONE OF THE THREE COVID HOT SPOTS IN THE NATION, reports The New York Times, with all three - Honolulu, Miami, San Juan Puerto Rico being warm weather tourist destinations. The story pointed out that Hawaiʻi had some of the toughest Covid regulations in the country, but stopped requiring pre-testing for mainland arrivals in March. Pre-testing for international arrivals ended nationwide on Saturday. Hawaiʻi was the last place in the country to remove mask requirements.
Also relevant to Hawaiʻi, is the increase in Covid cases in Las Vegas, one of the favorite destinations of Hawaiʻi residents. Federal and local health officials recommend mask wearing in all casinos and other public places in Las Vegas where the community spread of Covid is registered as High.
The bad news is that Hawai'i's policymakers haven't given up the dream of regulating it into oblivion.
For years, Hawai'i residents who wanted to buy or sell cryptocurrency were stymied by the state's Money Transmitters Act, which demands that digital currency companies hold cash assets equal to their digital assets. For example, under this "double reserve" rule, a company with $1 billion in bitcoin and etherium must also have $1 billion in cash reserves.
This double-reserve requirement makes Hawaiʻi one of the most unfriendly states for cryptocurrency, and in 2017 — the same year that the value of bitcoin climbed from $1,000 to $19,783 — exchanges such as Coinbase, Binance and Bitstamp simply stopped doing business here.
Finally, in 2019, Gov. David Ige authorized the "Digital Currency Innovation Lab," a temporary regulatory "sandbox" that allowed certain companies to do business in Hawaiʻi without being subject to the double-reserve requirement.
Since the lab's inception, 134,000 Hawaii customers have been able to complete more than $800 million in transactions involving cryptocurrency.
With the lab set to end this year, Hawaiʻi policymakers during the latest legislative session, faced a dilemma: If cryptocurrency is going to survive in Hawaiʻi, it needs to be exempted from the double-reserve requirement. That small change in the law is all that is required.
But rather than passing a simple bill exempting digital currency from the double-reserve requirement, as contemplated in 2017, the Legislature instead considered a massive 90-page bill that set out an exhaustive program of regulation, licensure and oversight for cryptocurrency.
As the Grassroot Institute of Hawaiʻi pointed out in extensive testimony on the licensing bill, the proposal was fraught with problems ranging from being too bank-centric, to issues with privacy and data security.
Eventually, the licensing bill collapsed under its own weight, leaving policymakers scrambling for a solution that would not result in an abrupt end to cryptocurrency in Hawaiʻi.
They ended up approving a resolution asking the state to administratively extend the Digital Currency Innovation Lab project for two years, and a bill to create a task force that will study the issue.
Well, now we know, and cryptocurrency enthusiasts can breathe a sigh of relief: The state Division of Financial Affairs and Hawaiʻi Technology and Development Corp. recently extended the sandbox until June 30, 2024, so — for now — cryptocurrency in Hawaiʻi lives.
We must realize, however, that this means there will be even more pressure on the Legislature to come up with a permanent answer. If our lawmakers continue to embrace heavy regulation and licensing schemes, this might be a short respite before cryptocurrency is killed off permanently in Hawaiʻi.
Under the byzantine licensing scheme considered earlier this year, Hawaiʻi would have gone from the worst state in the nation for cryptocurrency to ... the worst state in the nation for cryptocurrency, though perhaps slightly better than before.
If only lawmakers would realize that the answer is right in front of them. The sandbox is light-touch regulation in action. All that it does is remove the double-reserve requirement for cryptocurrency.
If the sandbox works — and judging from the pleas for an extension, it clearly does — then why not learn from its example?
There is no need to create a burdensome regulatory scheme when we have proof that a simple, common sense approach is better and more effective.
The clock has been reset for cryptocurrency in Hawaiʻi. Hopefully, policymakers will spend that time wisely and learn the value of light regulation. That way, we could make Hawaii one of the best states for cryptocurrency, rather than one of the worst.
|Dr. Ashton Flinders, research geophysicist with U.S. |
Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory,
co-leads a deep sea expedition. Portrait from USGS
Flinders’ trip is the second in a series of three expeditions taking place from May through August 2022 called NOAA’s Voyage to the Ridge 2022. The expedition will be broadcast live as it happens, so you can follow Dr. Flinders on this exciting journey.
Flinders’ participation in this expedition continues a long legacy of HVO’s involvement in submarine exploration. During the expedition, he will work as a science ambassador, helping coordinate onboard and shore-side scientists to plan and accomplish exploration missions. He will provide his scientific expertise to assist in the description of newly explored areas including live narration during the ROV dives.
Flinders flies from Hilo to Saint John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, where he will board NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. The ship will leave Saint John’s on June 16th, making its way 900 miles (1,450 km) to the intersection of Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR).
The ship will sail south along a poorly explored section of the MAR and will arrive in the Azores archipelago in mid-July. These nine islands are an autonomous region of Portugal that sit at the triple junction boundary that separates the North American, Eurasian, and African Plates. These volcanic islands are the expression of hotspot volcanism, though it differs significantly from the Hawaiian hotspot.
Spanning the north-south length of the Atlantic Ocean and stretching an impressive 10,000 miles (16,100 km), the MAR is the longest mountain range in the world and one of four major spreading ridges that create new oceanic crust.
The MAR is offset by hundreds of faults and is unique in having a deep fault valley along much of the crest of the range that is the site of volcanic activity and frequent earthquakes. In other areas of the MAR, spectacular hydrothermal vents often form where magma provides heat as it rises to the seafloor.
|Thermal vents on the deep ocean floor are under study this summer with a Hawaiian Volcano|
Observatory scientist on board the NOAA research vessel. Photo from NOAA
The Voyage to the Ridge expedition is a part of a major multi-year, multi-national collaborative ocean exploration field program focused on raising collective knowledge and understanding of the North Atlantic Ocean; the Atlantic Seafloor Partnership for Integrated Research and Exploration (ASPIRE).
The North Atlantic Ocean plays a pivotal role to humankind, providing biological and geological resources, seafood production and climate regulation, and a route for trade and travel between Europe and the Americas. With increased globalization, efforts to understand, conserve, manage, and defend the maritime commons have become an essential shared responsibility.
Seafloor mapping during NOAA’s upcoming expedition to the Atlantic will be visible on the live stream whenever remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives are not being conducted. ROV dives may span depths ranging from 820 to 19,685 feet (250–6,000 m) deep. During dives, they expect to explore deep-sea coral and sponge habitats, potential hydrothermal vent and extinct polymetallic sulfide systems, fracture and rift zones, and the water column. Dives will be streamed daily, from approximately 6:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT (12:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. HST).
|Deep water corals will be among the species studied during|
HAVO scientist Ashton Flinders' research this summer.
Photo from NOAA
Volcano Activity Updates; Kīlauea volcano is erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is at WATCH (https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/about-alert-levels). Kīlauea updates are issued daily.
Over the past week, lava has continued to erupt from the western vent within Halemaʻumaʻu crater. All lava is confined within Halemaʻumaʻu crater in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Sulfur dioxide emission rates remain elevated and were last measured at approximately 1,900 tonnes per day (t/d) on June 8. Seismicity is elevated but stable, with few earthquakes and ongoing volcanic tremor. Summit tiltmeters recorded several minor deflation-inflation trends over the past week. For more information on the current eruption of Kīlauea, see https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/recent-eruption.
Mauna Loa is not erupting and remains at Volcano Alert Level ADVISORY. This alert level does not mean that an eruption is imminent or that progression to an eruption from the current level of unrest is certain. Mauna Loa updates are issued weekly.
This past week, about 30 small-magnitude earthquakes were recorded below the summit and upper elevation flanks of Mauna Loa—the majority of these occurred at shallow depths less than 15 kilometers
|NOAA's Okenos Explorer will carry the expedition to explore hotspot|
volcanism and discover news underwater species this summer.
Two earthquakes were reported felt in the Hawaiian Islands during the past week: a M3.1 earthquake 15 km (9 mi) SSW of Leilani Estates at 6 km (3 mi) depth on June 5 at 3:01 a.m. HST, and a M2.3 earthquake 2 km (1 mi) S of Captain Cook at 9 km (6 mi) depth on June 3 at 9:20 p.m. HST.
HVO continues to closely monitor Kīlauea's ongoing eruption and Mauna Loa for any signs of increased activity.
Visit HVO’s website for past Volcano Watch articles, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa updates, volcano photos, maps, recent earthquake info, and more. Email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.