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Hawaii State Environmental Council Releases Annual Report on Hawaii’s Sustainability

The State Environmental Council has released its annual report for 2015-2016 on Hawaiʻi’s environment. The report identifies environmental priorities for the State and makes important recommendations on measuring sustainability.

Click to view report

The Environmental Council is tasked with submitting to the governor and legislature a report on the state of the environment. This year’s report, which covers 2015 and 2016, discusses the status of Hawaiʻi’s progress towards a more sustainable future. The report uses the State Environmental Policy (Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes Chapter 344) to look at the common elements of Gov. David Ige’s Sustainable Hawaiʻi Initiative, the Aloha+ Challenge, and the Mālama Honua Promise to PaeʻĀina. These initiatives are then placed in a global context through a review of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the World Conservation Congress “Hawaiʻi Commitments.” The Environmental Council identifies the common elements of these sustainability approaches as: Ocean, ʻŌhiʻa, and ʻOhana.

“We are delighted to receive this report on the State’s environmental progress,” said OEQC Director Scott Glenn. “We greatly appreciate Environmental Council members working on this. They are all volunteers active in their careers and communities. This report helps make sense of the great sustainability efforts underway in Hawaiʻi and how they connect with worldwide sustainability.”

The report also continues the Environmental Council’s focus on the Genuine Progress Indicator for Hawaiʻi. The work of Dr. Regina Ostergaard-Klem of Hawaiʻi Pacific University and Dr. Kirsten L.L. Oleson of the University of Hawaiʻi is highlighted as a means of measuring our sustainability. The Genuine Progress Indicator complements Gross Domestic Product in monitoring our wellbeing in terms of economy, environment, and society. Moreover, there is an opportunity to integrate the Genuine Progress Indicator with the performance indicators in the Aloha+ Challenge to synthesize the various goals into a comprehensive metric that can be compared to Gross Domestic Product.

“The development of quantitative metrics, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator and the Aloha+ Challenge Dashboard, for measuring the State’s environmental performance, will help guide public policy throughout the State of Hawaii,” said Chair Joseph Shacat. “When fully implemented, these tools will provide additional context for the wise use of limited taxpayer dollars.”

The Environmental Council has several critical functions that affect the environment and development across Hawaiʻi. The Council is a liaison between the Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) and the general public. The OEQC’s Director Scott Glenn regularly advises Gov. Ige on environmental matters. The Council also monitors the progress of the state in meeting its environmental goals through the publication of its annual report on the state of Hawaiʻi’s environment. It creates the administrative rules for Hawaiʻi’s environmental impact statement (EIS) process and vets state and county agency lists for actions that can be considered exempt from having to prepare EISs or environmental assessments (EAs).

The full report is available at: http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/.

Additional information about the Environmental Council is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/environmental-council/. The Council normally holds its meetings on the second Tuesday of every month.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin Voices Opposition to Two Presidential Nominations

Attorney General Doug Chin has joined five other state Attorneys General opposing the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for United States Attorney General and has joined eight other state Attorneys General opposing the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to become Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Click to read full letter

The letter opposing Senator Sessions’ nomination to lead the United States Department of Justice notes, “The Justice Department seal reads ‘Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur’: ‘Who prosecutes on behalf of justice.’ As state attorneys general—the chief law officers of our respective states—we regularly work with the U.S. Department of Justice. Senator Sessions has stood for policies antithetical to this core mission of the Justice Department. For these reasons, we believe him to be unqualified for the role of United States Attorney General. We join the thousands of individuals and organizations that have voiced their opposition to Senator Sessions’ appointment and respectfully urge you to reject his nomination.”

The letter cites Senator Sessions’ refusal to protect racial minorities and vulnerable populations and his rejection of bipartisan criminal justice reforms.

The letter opposing Attorney General Pruitt’s nomination to head the EPA says in part, “As the Attorney General of Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt made it a priority to attack the rules—promulgated by EPA to implement Congressional mandates—that EPA is charged with enforcing. This is not just a matter of policy difference; Mr. Pruitt has sought to tear apart the very notion of cooperative federalism that forms the foundation of our federal environmental laws. That cooperation makes it possible for states and the federal government, working together, to protect the health of the American people and the resources on which we depend.”

The letter cites Attorney General Pruitt’s multiple lawsuits seeking to block the EPA from fulfilling its mandates under the Clean Air Act as well as his continued questioning of human impacts on climate change.

The letter opposing Senator Sessions was also signed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine. The letter opposing Attorney General Pruitt’s nomination was also signed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Delaware Attorney General Matthew Denn, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, and Vermont Attorney General Thomas Donovan, Jr.

The letter opposing Senator Sessions’ nomination was sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein. The letter opposing Attorney General Pruitt’s nomination was sent to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso and Ranking Member Tom Carper.

AG Multistate Letter to Senate Judiciary re Sessions

AG Multistate Letter to Senate Judiciary re Pruitt

Hawaii Representative Urges Community-Based Measures to Protect Coral Reefs

Napili Bay project to study oxybenzone-pollution prevention

State Representative Angus McKelvey reinforced his commitment to protecting Hawaii’s coral reefs by endorsing the Napili Bay and Beach Foundation’s upcoming study on strategies to manage oxybenzone pollution.

Oxybenzone is a chemical found in many sunscreens, and presents a serious threat to coastal coral reefs. Coral reefs are not just ecologically important; they are also highly valued by the tourism industry and residential communities. Evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of community-based management strategies is therefore important to a variety of stakeholders.

“I am especially happy that the Napili Bay foundation has been selected to conduct this study. This shows that businesses, community groups, and others share in the concern for our coral reefs,” said McKelvey. “Currently, no reliable data regarding oxybenzone-pollution management strategies exists.

Thanks to the Napili Bay and Beach Foundation’s proactive efforts, this critical information will be available to make informed decisions about protecting not only Napili Bay’s coral reefs, but also elsewhere across the globe.”

The study will determine the effectiveness of a multi-pronged public relations campaign to promote alternatives to using sunscreens that contain oxybenzone. It will encompass an environmental and demographic assessment pre- and post-campaign launch. Toxicity assays will be measured against two control sites, where no campaign will occur.

“As one who burns early and often, and is a skin cancer survivor, I know how important it is to protect yourself from the sun,” McKelvey said, “but there are many products that, along with sensible sun habits, can protect your skin and our reefs.”

Hokulea Re-Enters the Pacific Ocean, Sailing Towards the Galapagos Islands

Iconic polynesian voyaging replica Hokulea yesterday departed Balboa, Panama and began her sail to the Galapagos Islands. After making a momentous crossing of the Panama Canal, crews spent several days engaging in a cross-cultural engagement with indigenous groups and sharing the meaning of the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines. Hokulea’s voyage to the Galapagos will take approximately 10 days.

“Hokulea is back in Pacific waters after nearly two years and the Galapagos will be the first Pacific islands we will visit on this journey home,” said Nainoa Thompson, president of Polynesian Voyaging Society.  “The Galapagos Islands will be an important mission stop where we will celebrate their sustainability efforts, identify parallels with Hawaii and bring attention to science, evolution and protecting the earth’s most fragile natural resources,” added Thompson.

A contingent of students and teachers from Castle High School, Kamehameha Schools and Halau Ku Mana will be traveling to the Galapagos to work with the crew of Hokulea. Students will join the crewmembers on their engagements and take part on an unparalleled educational journey in this UNESCO World Heritage Marine site.

Hokulea will stay approximately in the Galapagos for approximately one week before setting sail for Rapa Nui.

Hawaii Forest Institute (HFI) Awarded IUCN WCC Hawaii Climate Fund

In honor of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that met in Hawai‘i last year, the Hawaiian Airlines Foundation, the Hawaii Conservation Alliance Foundation, and Conservation International established the IUCN World Conservation Conference (WCC) Hawaii Climate Fund. The IUCN WCC Hawaii Climate Fund believes that as an island state, Hawai‘i is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Through a Request for Proposal process, the Fund awarded Hawai‘i-based non-profit organizations for community-based projects for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and education. Hawai‘i Forest Institute (HFI) was awarded a $15,000 grant for its Ho‘ola Ka Makana ‘a Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest initiative on Hawai‘i Island.

HPA Middle School students plant seedling at Kaʻūpūlehu. Photo credit: Keoki Apokolani Carter

Grant funds, with support from HFI, Kamehameha Schools and National Tropical Botanical Gardens, and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority allow the Ka‘ūpūlehu Cultural Ecology Team to continue mitigation initiatives in preparation for climate change and stewardship efforts to protect and enhance cultural resources found within the endangered Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest. The Ka‘ūpūlehu team is comprised of four integrated land-based learning and stewardship programs that have mutually beneficial partnering as a foundation of its work.

A significant partnership is with the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC), as one of a few Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) sites that integrates indigenous science with institutional science to better prepare for climate change and share knowledge across disciplines. The four program directors along in concert with seven partner programs, were honored with the opportunity to give a formal international presentation at the IUCN WCC.

Through diverse outreach and restoration activities, Hawai‘i residents and visitors help mitigate the impacts of climate change. Adaptive management approaches are the cornerstone of this initiative and by using biocultural and mālama ‘āina “learn-while-doing” approaches, Ho‘ola Ka Makana ‘a Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest will engage stakeholders and provide learning opportunities throughout the ahupua‘a giving a mauka/makai, or a well-rounded regional approach to managing this rich and storied place.

Planned hands-on forest restoration activities include invasive plant removal, outplanting native seedlings, seed collection and monitoring wild regeneration of rare native plants.

“We are extremely thankful to IUCN WCC Hawaii Climate Fund for supporting our mission of protecting and perpetuating Hawai‘i’s endangered dryland forests,” said HFI Executive Director Heather Simmons. “Grant funds received help the mission of the Hawai‘i Forest Institute to promote the health and productivity of Hawai‘i’s forests through forest restoration, educational programs, information dissemination, and support for scientific research.”

Located in North Kona, Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest is a 76-acre dryland forest once home to thriving populations of Hawaiians. In Hawai‘i, 95% of dryland habitats have been destroyed and 25% of the endangered plants in the Hawaiian flora are from such drylands.

Today, Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest is a safe haven for place-based learning, strong in partnerships with the land, Hawaiian culture and community. Since 2000, over 8,000 native seedlings have been planted and cared for by more than 9,000 individuals within Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest through the dedication of volunteers, cooperators and staff.

By the end of 2017, Ho‘ola Ka Makana ‘a Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest initiative will have brought four additional acres of endangered dryland habitat under intensive management, engaged 800 volunteers for over 4,000 work hours, hosted over 1,000 people in classrooms and outreach events, and planted 600 native seedlings.

Hawaii County Parks and Recreation Cuts Water Use

Due to mandatory North Kona water restriction requirements from the Department of Water Supply, the Hawaii County Parks and Recreation Kona Parks Maintenance Division has curtailed the irrigation schedule from daily watering to twice a week only at the following facilities:

  • William Charles Lunalilo Playground at Pualani (2 fields)
  • Old Airport Park (5 fields)
  • Honl’s/Wai’aha Bay Beach Park
  • Hale Halawai
  • Pāhoehoe Beach Park
  • Ali’i Kai Park
  • Harold H. Higashihara Park
  • Kona Hillcrest Park

The irrigation schedule was changed on January 12, 2017, the same day the water restriction notice was issued.

Although the restriction requires 25% reduction in use, the Kona Parks Maintenance Division water use will be cut by more than half according to the new schedule.  In addition, Parks District Superintendent Dennis Riordan says, “we will monitor our grass, and, if possible, reduce even more. We will also irrigate only at night, and closely monitor the showers, sinks and toilets for leaks.”

Parks and Recreation Director Charmaine Kamaka said, “The County of Hawaii wants to lead by example, and we are working with the Department of Water Supply to take proactive steps to reduce water use as much as possible.”

Big Island Police Renew Request for Information in 1996 Murder Investigation

Hawaiʻi Island police are renewing their request for information or leads related to an unsolved murder investigation from 1996.
On August 12, 1996, the body of an 18-year-old man was discovered off a dirt road above the Keaʻau ball park at about 3:45 p.m. The victim was identified as Glenn Guerrero of Keaʻau. An autopsy determined that he died from a gunshot wound, and his death was ruled a homicide.

Glenn Guerrero

Detectives learned that earlier in the day and prior to the discovery of Guerrero’s body, witnesses reported seeing Guerrero in the passenger seat of a pickup truck that was leaving the area of the ballpark. Detectives have been unable to identify the driver or locate the pickup truck.

“Previous leads have since been exhausted and, despite the advances in forensic science technologies, this murder investigation remains unsolved,” said Lieutenant Gregory Esteban of the Area I Criminal Investigations Section. “We’re still hopeful that with the passage of time and changes in relationships, individuals may be more willing to come forward with useful information that may lead to a resolution to this investigation. The Hawaiʻi Police Department remains committed in its efforts to revisit and re-evaluate this and other unsolved homicides and to bring closure for the families of the victims.”

Police ask anyone with any information on this or other unsolved murders to contact Detective Derek Morimoto at 961-2380 or derek.morimoto@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hawaii Representative Issues Statement in Response to Zuckerberg Lawsuit

Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-South Maui) issued a statement in response to the controversy surrounding Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s 100-acre Kauai estate, and will be introducing legislation through his House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs to address issues with “quiet title” and “Kuleana Lands” law.

“Zuckerberg is using the same legal loophole that sugar barons have historically exploited to scoop thousands of acres of Hawaiian lands. Zuckerberg’s actions may be legal and slightly more transparent, but it doesn’t make them right,” Ing said.

“We need to look at this issue through the eyes of the families affected. Here we have the world’s sixth richest individual, with a team of the world’s best lawyers, suing you, then asking you to make a deal. Obviously, no matter how expensive, you will lawyer up too.”

Ing claims that in these cases, defendants typically spend more on attorney fees than any payout they may receive. “So in the end, you have a mainland billionaire exploiting our legal system, and bullying his way through local residents, all to build his beach playground. This is not the intent of the law.”

Ing said that the State should take partial blame, because of outdated Kuleana Land title laws. A major problem with Kuleana Lands is that over generations of inheritances, land is divided into such tiny parcels that are legally worth nothing and not worth fighting over, if records can even be found. But Ing says these incremental losses adds up, and that of the original 23,000 acres designated Kuleana Lands, only a few thousand remain.

Ing claims there are better ways to address the dispute. “I was always taught that when disputes arise, to approach folks with aloha, talk story, and try to ho’oponopono. In Hawaii, you don’t initiate conversation by filing a lawsuit,” said Ing. “If Zuckerberg truly cared about Hawaiian culture, and these families, he would (1) let them hui together as a trust, rather than fighting them off one by one, then, (2) he would pay for and enter mediation to reach a fair deal without litigation.”

Ing’s bill, which is being drafted and will be submitted by next Wednesday, will require just that. “My proposal is fair and will help address this and hundreds of other quiet title cases that are weighted too heavily for the plaintiff. It goes well beyond sympathy for Native Hawaiians, because it could happen to anyone. We must stop mainland billionaires from stacking money to tilt Hawaii’s legal system against local residents.”