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Students from Kalani High School Power Ahead to 20th Annual National Ocean Sciences Competition

Kalani High School students will be competing for the first time in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. The 20th annual Nationals Finals Competition will take place April 22-23 at Oregon State University. The team joins 24 other regional winners out of a total of 392 competing teams.

L to R: Zoe Asahan, Rovi Porter, Mika Ishii, Daniel Huang, David Higashi, Coach Leslie Hamasaki.  Photo Credit: Kalani High School

Students from Kalani High School will compete against other top high school scholars in the 20th annual National Finals Competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) this Sat., April 22 and Sun., April 23. The team won the Hawaii regional competition and joins 24 other regional winners (out of a total of 392 competing teams) at the finals at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.

“This is the first time that students from Kalani High School will be competing in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, and we are excited to cheer them on this weekend,” said Principal Mitchell Otani. “The lessons and skills the students have learned by preparing for the competitions have given them a strong foundation as they pursue post-secondary opportunities in science-related fields as well as public policy.”

Students will test their knowledge of ocean-related topics, which include cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics, and geology by answering buzzer-style, multiple choice questions, and longer, critical thinking-based team challenge questions. They will also participate in the Science Expert Briefing, a mock congressional hearing where they present science recommendations on a piece of legislation, enhancing their critical thinking skills and building a better understanding of the broader context of science.

The Kalani High School team consists of: Zoe Asahan, David Higashi, Daniel Huang, Mika Ishii and Rovi Porter.

The NOSB, a program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, is building the next generation of ocean-literate citizens and scientists, educating them on timely topics that will remain relevant for years to come. The Finals competition theme this year is “Blue Energy: Powering the Planet With Our Ocean.”

Follow the Kalani High School team at the NOSB National Finals competition this weekend on Twitter (@NOSBRocks), FacebookInstagram, and Tumblr, using #NOSB17 and #NOSBturns20.

Umauma Bridge to Reopen to Two-Way Traffic Monday – Continued Alternating Lane Closures

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) alerts the public it will be reopening the Umauma Bridge on Mamalahoa Highway (Route 19) in the vicinity of Hakalau on Monday, April 24, 2017. One lane of traffic will be contraflowed over the bridge beginning at 9 a.m., weather permitting, and the bridge will be open to two-way traffic at 3 p.m. There will continue to be alternating lane closures at the bridge on Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Dayton Kalai YouTube clip screenshot

The Umauma Bridge, which was built in 1911, underwent a full rehabilitation. The $31 million improvement project involved the reinforcement of the bridge’s deteriorating steel structure by building concrete towers within the existing steel towers. Other improvements included widening and replacement of the bridge deck, an asphalt concrete pavement overlay with 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot shoulders, and new concrete railings that comply with current federal pedestrian and bike safety regulations.

HDOT thanks the public for their patience and support during this project. Lane closure updates are posted weekly to our website at http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/roadwork/hawaii/.

On Earth Day, Hawaiian Electric Companies Note Progress in Reducing Emissions, Use of Fossil Fuel

To mark Earth Day 2017, the Hawaiian Electric Companies today noted their progress in replacing fossil fuels with renewable resources for power generation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and leading efforts to switch to zero-emission electric vehicles.

Many of the companies’ ambitious clean energy goals are described in the Power Supply Improvement Plan submitted to the Public Utilities Commission in December 2016. The plan calls for reducing operations that use fossil fuels, doubling private rooftop solar systems and aggressively seeking grid-scale renewable resources, among other goals.

Here are some highlights of the companies’ progress toward a clean energy future:

Renewable energy

The Hawaiian Electric Companies reached a milestone in 2016, with 26 percent of the electricity used by customers coming from renewable resources – up from 23 percent the year before.

Hawaii Island customers’ use of renewable electricity passed the halfway mark for the first time, with 54 percent of electricity coming from renewables, up from 49 percent in 2015. Maui County also reached a new high of 37 percent, up from 35 percent. On Oahu, 19 percent of electricity used by customers was from renewable resources, up from 17 percent the year before. The Power Supply Improvement Plan forecasts exceeding the state’s renewable energy milestones of 30 percent in 2020, 40 percent in 2030, 70 percent in 2040 and 100 percent by 2045.

The companies’ forecasts for future milestones include:

  • 48 percent by the end of 2020;
  • 72 percent by the end of 2030;
  • 100 percent by the end of 2040, five years ahead of the 2045 deadline

Oil consumption down 21%

Renewable goals exist to increase self-sufficiency by relying on local resources like sun, wind, geothermal, local crops and waste. The companies’ ultimate goals are to reduce dependence on imported oil and climate-altering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, especially carbon dioxide.

  • From 2008 to 2016, Hawaiian Electric’s use of oil in generators on Oahu fell to 6 million barrels from 7.8 million barrels. For all three Hawaiian Electric Companies, oil use fell to 8.5 million barrels from 10.7 million barrels, a 21 percent decrease.
  • The Hawaiian Electric Companies’ goal is to reduce GHG emissions to the 2010 level by 2020.  In fact, it’s anticipated the companies will do better, reducing the 2020 level to 16 percent below the 2010 level. That would cut emissions by 865,000 tons per year. That is equivalent to any one of the following:
    • 1.8 million barrels of fuel per year
    • Emissions from 166,000 passenger car in a year
    • 1.9 million miles driven by passenger cars
    • Energy consumed per year by 116,000 homes

Electric vehicle use accelerates

The number of registered plug-in electric vehicles (EV) has broken the 5,000 mark, a promising milestone that makes Hawaii second in the nation after California in EVs per capita. Hawaiian Electric has helped form Drive Electric Hawaii to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles through coordinated efforts and make it easier to expand vehicle-charging infrastructure in a way that brings more renewable energy onto the electric grid.

Drive Electric Hawaii partners include the Blue Planet Foundation; Hawaii State Department of Transportation (HDOT); Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; Hawaii State Division of Consumer Advocacy; the Hawaiian Electric Companies (including Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light); Kauai Island Utility Cooperative; Ulupono Initiative; and the Rocky Mountain Institute. Hawaiian Electric Companies’ specific role is installing fast chargers to reduce drivers’ “range anxiety.”

A dozen fast chargers are available at shopping centers, visitor attractions and on utility property across the five islands the companies serve. More are coming. Transactions at our companies’ fast chargers shot up in March as EVs on the road increased and drivers became more aware of the growing number of fast chargers.

For more about environmental progress, visit: http://www.hawaiianelectric.com/about-us/our-commitment.

Commentary – Mayor’s Administration Has Taken Action Against Me

Mayor Harry Kim ran on a platform of transparency, and restoring trust in county government. Nonetheless,  his administration has taken action against me, which goes against those campaign promises.

The problems started on February 6th, 2017 when the Department of Public Works director Frank DeMarco sent me an official e-mail stating that I cannot communicate with anyone in the Department of Public Works going forward. Mr. DeMarco also states all further inquiries from me have to be sent to the mayor’s office through postal mail. This e-mail was disseminated to all DPW managerial staff, and to the mayor’s secretary.I was able to get  that  part rescinded, so I could go through DPW’s public information officer for any future inquiries. This somewhat addressed the issue at hand, but not completely. This directive made it impossible to provide feedback about future county highway projects.

In addition,  I still couldn’t communicate with front line engineers,  or division heads. I’ve established relationships with these individuals that  have lasted ten or more years in some cases. These individuals have always appreciated my efforts to report traffic signal and pothole issues, along with my assistance with getting various highway projects completed.

DPW Director DeMarco has painted a different picture of my efforts, which he stated in recent testimony to the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee on April 11th. He stated that I was making too many inquiries with DPW staff, which was causing issues for DPW and other county departments.

This statement doesn’t make any sense whatsoever based upon the positive feedback I’ve received from public works  staff over the years. This is why I believe  this directive is smokescreen for the real reason why I’ve been treated this way. Mayor Kim simply doesn’t welcome, or want, feedback from from community.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Hawaiian Airlines’ Airport Operations Lowering Fuel Use, Carbon Emissions

Carrier decreasing its reliance on jet fuel to power aircraft at the gate

Hawaiian Airlines this month achieved a key milestone in its ongoing effort to reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions when it powered all wide-body aircraft arriving at airports in a single day with electrical power at the gate. The carrier’s initiative to connect parked aircraft to more efficient external electricity is significantly reducing pilots’ use of the onboard auxiliary power unit, or APU, which burns jet fuel to keep lights, avionics systems, air conditioning and other equipment on.

The work has the potential to reduce Hawaiian’s APU usage by an estimated 30 minutes per flight, saving some 620,000 gallons of fuel annually and cutting CO2 emissions by 5,933 metric tons. That’s roughly enough fuel to fly the airline’s wide-body fleet for a day, while the carbon reductions equate to removing 1,253 cars off the streets each year.

Hawaiian Airlines ground crews connect external power to a wide-body aircraft at Honolulu International Airport.

In the past year, Hawaiian made headway toward an ambitious goal of having gate power available to its entire wide-body fleet within three minutes of arrival as aircraft fly between Hawaii, 11 U.S. gateway cities and 10 international destinations. Line service and ground crews have met the target on 92 percent of flights on average. But on April 12, in what is internally being celebrated as “100 Percent Day,” employees reached a milestone when 47 wide-body flights received external power as aircraft arrived at airports from Auckland to New York.

“It’s very much like a carefully choreographed dance requiring great timing and the tight coordination of everyone involved in bringing our airplanes to the gate once they’ve landed,” said Jon Snook, Hawaiian’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Our teams must ensure the availability of working external power at the gate, monitor minute-by-minute the estimated arrival time of the aircraft, and ensure all personnel are in place and ready to receive the aircraft.”

Hawaiian already provides external gate power to its narrow-body fleet that average 170 daily flights between the Hawaiian Islands. The airline also owns portable power units that can be deployed in the event jetbridge electricity is unavailable or malfunctioning.

Hawaiian’s success in reducing APU usage aligns with the carrier’s ongoing commitment to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.

Hawaiian, which operates one of the youngest fleet in the U.S. industry, is investing in fuel efficient aircraft by adding 18 new A321neos starting later this year. Last year, the airline conducted two demonstration flights to Honolulu from Brisbane and Auckland using a series of gate-to-gate environmental best practices outlined by the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions, or ASPIRE.

Most recently, Hawaiian became the first U.S. carrier to join an international scientific monitoring project that enlists commercial airlines to research climate change and air quality worldwide. Hawaiian partnered with the In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS) venture by equipping one Airbus A330-200 aircraft with an atmospheric monitoring tool that will collect valuable data throughout the airline’s far-reaching network covering the Pacific, Asia and North America.

Big Island Students Qualify for National Speech and Debate Tournament

Parker School qualified five students for the National Speech and Debate Tournament during the three-day Hawai’i Speech and Debate State Tournament held at Kamehameha and Punahou Schools on O’ahu April 6-8, 2017.  This sets a new school record for the number of students to qualify for nationals during a single season.

Five Parker School students qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Alabama during the recent Hawai’i Speech and Debate State Tournament April 6-8, 2017.

Parker junior Kirk Hubbard, IV and senior Susie Krall placed first in Varsity Policy Debate, followed by Parker sophomores Zoe Vann and Anna Gaglione earning second place. By placing first and second, both Parker debate teams instantly qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Alabama in June and are the only two teams to represent Hawai’i at the national level. Parker freshman Hunter Kalahiki-Arnbrister also qualified for the national tournament after placing second in Program Oral Interpretation.

Other highlights include freshman Jordan Vedelli and junior Zach Mader taking first place in Junior Varsity Policy Debate, with freshmen Tyler Thomas and Hiroki Soler placing second.  In addition, senior Alex Coley placed fourth in Championship Lincoln Douglas, sophomore Colin Klimt fourth in Student Congress, sophomore Malia Dills fourth in International Extemporaneous Speaking and junior Kirk Hubbard IV placed fifth in Impromptu Speaking. In the program’s eleventh year, the debate team sent 45 students to compete in the state tournament.

Hawai’i Island schools had a strong presence at this year’s Hawai’i Speech and Debate State Tournament having won half of the six major debate categories. Parker earned top honors in both the Varsity Policy Debate and Junior Varsity Policy Debate, while Hilo High School’s newly founded debate team won Beginning Public Forum.

“Coach Roland Laliberte and the Hilo High School debaters did an amazing job in their first year at states,” says Carl Sturges, Parker School headmaster and debate coach. “Having had regular inter-squad matches with Hilo’s debate team this season, our entire team was excited for their success.”

Kamehameha Butterflies Return to O`ahu Forests This Earth Day

This week, eight years after the Kamehameha Butterfly was designated as the Hawai‘i State insect, 94 of the stunning, captive-raised butterflies, were released in the Kawainui Marsh. This is both the culmination of and the beginning of an unusual path towards species conservation.

Back in 2009, a small group of 5th graders at Pearl Ridge Elementary engaged in a project that captivated them.  For their teacher it wasn’t enough to simply teach about government and how legislation is created.  She challenged her students to introduce a bill to designate the first state insect. The subsequent chain-of-events can be likened to ‘the butterfly effect’.  That concept was first coined by meteorologists to explain how small causes can have large effects.

Kristi Kimura was 11 years old at the time, but she remembers it vividly. After narrowing their search to two finalists, the class voted. It was between the Kamehameha Butterfly or pulelehua (Vanessa tameamea) and the Hawaiian happy-face spider.  Kimura recalls, “We figured having a spider wouldn’t be great since a lot of people don’t like them and felt the butterfly represented the islands better since it was named after King Kamehameha.”  Now studying biology at Seattle University, Kimura laughs, “I realize now that spiders aren’t technically even insects!”

The species’ conservation status also factored into their decision.  While not yet endangered, the pulelehua had been disappearing from areas like Tantalus in the southern Ko‘olau Mountains, where it had previously been common.  “We figured if we got it approved as the state insect, people would become informed and efforts would be made to try and protect it,” said Kimura.

The class’s wish has been realized through a combination of public interest and hard work by numerous partners.  On release day staff from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), surround a mesh carrier filled with butterflies.  Almost immediately, the first one flies up towards the treetops to the group’s delight.

Cynthia King of DOFAW’s Hawai‘i Invertebrate Program explained, “After the species was designated as our state insect, several members of the public contacted legislators.  They were concerned they weren’t seeing pulelehua as much anymore and asked what was being done to help them?”

In Hawai‘i, often referred to as the extinction capital of the world’, it is often only when species become extremely rare that resources are secured to save them.  King continued, “We realized how little we knew about our state insect, but saw this as a species we could take steps to stabilize before it reached that critical point”.

The Kamehameha Butterfly is one of only two native butterfly species in Hawai‘i.  Its ancestors made it here from North America or Asia millions of years ago.  Adults are orange with brown, black, and white markings.  The light-green caterpillars feed only on native species in the nettle family, primarily māmaki. They don’t consume non-native plants like crownflower or milkweeds, which are favorites for the introduced monarch butterfly.

Dr. William Haines, a University of Hawai‘i research entomologist, was hired through the UH Center for Conservation Research and Training to lead reintroduction efforts. His position was funded by the state and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.   His first task was determining the butterfly’s distribution.  He said, “We decided to set up a website for people to send in their sightings, so we could log them on a map.”  Confirmed on most of the main Hawaiian Islands, the pulelehua occurs mostly in gulch or stream habitats where host plants are common.  Using sightings from the website, scientists created a map of suitable habitat based on rainfall, temperature, and elevation. That gave them an idea of where the butterfly should be reintroduced.

Another study by University of Hawai‘i graduate student Colby Maeda investigated causes of mortality.  Overall, it’s thought that habitat destruction, and predators such as ants, are having the biggest influence on their decline.  This brings the project to its third stage: captive-rearing for release, which is expected to continue over the next two years.

Few people realize that real-world conservation is as much trial and error as scientific process.  Haines said, “Getting them to mate in captivity was the hardest part of raising them.  There was one paper from the 80’s about a related species, but pretty much nothing was known about the mating habits of our pulelehua.”

DLNR/DOFAW has a new insect lab, where state and federal funding has provided the tools needed to conserve rare Hawaiian insects and tree snails.  The breeding program has been so effective that taking care of caterpillars has become a full-time job.  With an entire life cycle of only about 45 days, turnaround times are quick.

The Honolulu Zoo has signed on to assist with the breeding program.  A new exhibit is set to open there this year which allows the zoo to assist in housing some of Hawai‘i’s rarest native invertebrates. Honolulu Zoo Curator and Conservation Chair, Laura Debnar said, “It was the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress that really led to this.”  An IUCN representative encouraged zoos to play a stronger role in conservation. We had a workshop last October, “With everyone from keepers, to groundskeepers, to concessions staff providing their feedback.”  She added,  “There was a very obvious consensus that we wanted to move in this direction of getting more involved in conservation in Hawai‘i.”

For King, this week’s release was the culmination of many years of dedication.  She commented, “This project is a perfect example of how we can use research, public engagement and partnerships to successfully conserve a species, before it’s too late.  We’ve had amazing support so far and look forward to working with any new partners that want to help us recover the pulelehua.”

Additional releases are planned for Sunday at the Maona Cliffs Restoration Area.

From a humble class project eight years ago to Earth Day 2017, the first wild release of an at-risk species, has been an exciting and interesting journey for the pulelehua.  Hawai‘i’s real-life butterfly effect.

To learn more about the Honolulu Zoo’s exhibit:

Aloha ‘Aina Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Admission is half-price for all Kama‘aina.

Navy Attending Merrie Monarch Festival, Will Join in Royal Parade

The U.S. Pacific Fleet Band will march and perform in the 54th annual Merrie Monarch Royal Parade on April 22. Capt. James Jenks, Chief of Staff, Navy Region Hawaii, will also attend the festivities.

HILO, Hawaii (April 26, 2014) Under the direction of Lt. Patrick K. Sweeten, the Pacific Fleet Band marches in the 51st annual Merrie Monarch Festival Parade. The parade is the culmination of a week-long festival featuring an internationally acclaimed hula competition and a grand parade through the heart of Hilo. (U.S. Navy photo by Musician 2nd Class Andrea Sematoske/Released)

Capt. Jenks will attend the Hula Kahiko competition on Friday, April 21. He will also attend the Group Hula ʻAuana & Awards and participate with the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band in the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade on Saturday, April 22 at 10:30 a.m. along downtown Hilo.

The Navy recognizes that the Merrie Monarch Festival honors the legacy left by King David Kalākaua, who inspired the perpetuation of Hawaiian traditions, native language and arts. King Kalākaua negotiated a treaty with the United States that led to the Navy’s presence at Pearl Harbor.

“We appreciate King David Kalākaua’s commitment and legacy,” Jenks said. “King Kalākaua supported the Navy and provided the opportunity to establish a coaling station at Pearl Harbor more than a century ago. He was a big supporter of education, which is something we all value today; especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”

Members of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band have been on Hawaii Island this week, working with local school bands, reinforcing STEM education and providing community outreach.

Commentary – How Lawmakers Can Deal With “Annoying” Citizens

Dear Damon,

This was the year when we learned how “annoying” the public can be to government agencies, what with their constant demands for transparency, sunshine, and access to government records.

In fact, some state agencies were so annoyed that they sought help from the legislature, which responded with a bill to limit the rights of “vexatious records requesters.” That bill (HB1518) is still alive, but fortunately the latest version requires a decision from a court before stripping government watchdogs of their rights.

The funny thing is that if anyone is entitled to feel “vexed” by the state’s transparency laws (and process), it’s the public. According to Civil Beat, state and city officials have regularly tried to hide records or withhold them by charging ridiculously high fees to the person requesting them.

The Grassroot Institute frequently requests public documents, and our researchers could share a few stories about the tactics agencies use to delay or avoid a response. When we worked with Judicial Watch to gain a copy of the Native Hawaiian Roll — a public voter list — we even had to go to court to get the records released.

Ironically, there’s a shockingly simple solution that would make everyone happy: just be more transparent.

It’s perfect. Requesters would get the documents they want and state workers could be spared the stress of coming up with reasons to avoid handing them over. In fact, if agencies were more open in their operations, some of those requests wouldn’t even be necessary.

There’s even a proposal already in place at the legislature. HB165 (now headed to a Conference Committee) would modernize the existing Sunshine Law by requiring electronic posting of public agency meeting notices and minutes and making board packets available for public inspection.

It’s an important step forward for transparency in Hawaii and a common sense way to reduce the work associated with records requests. After all, there’s no need to make a request when something’s already online.

Of course, several state agencies oppose HB165 and have testified about why they would find it difficult to comply with the bill. It’s almost as if they prefer being “vexed.”

Still, we hope that the legislature will embrace greater openness in government and take advantage of the internet to make more records publicly available. They could even think of it as a public health service. Because all that stress and vexation can’t be good for our state workers.

E hana kakou (Let’s work together!),

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D. – President/CEO Grassroot Institute

More Than 1,000 Maui Residents Pour Into Castle Theater For Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Last Stop On Statewide Town Hall Tour

At the Maui Arts & Cultural Center Castle Theater last night, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted her seventh Town Hall to an audience of more than 1,000 Maui residents, making it the largest of the crowds to gather for a stop on the congresswoman’s statewide tour between April 11-20. In total, more than 3,500 constituents from Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island participated in Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s “Aloha Town Hall Tour” with many of the meetings having more than 30,000 viewers via Facebook Live.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, “As we wrap up this Aloha Town Hall Tour that has brought together so many of us from communities across the entire state, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who took the time to come out, to listen, to share, and to ask questions—your kindness, your activism, and your aloha is what made these meetings so powerful and productive. Each of us has an opportunity to act with love and aloha, to respect others, and to work together despite any differences we have as we do our best to be of service to others.”

Issues of concern that came up on the Valley Isle tonight included online privacy rights and the congresswoman’s fight to stop Internet Service Providers from selling individuals’ internet browsing history without consent, Maui’s water infrastructure, overcrowding at the island’s prison, the need for more programs that assist inmates and reduce recidivism, criminal justice reform, decriminalizing marijuana, and access to truly affordable healthcare—not just health insurance. The audience expressed support for her Stop Arming Terrorists Act, her continued push to end the illegal regime change war in Syria, and her fight for peace.

Earlier today on Maui, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard participated in the Future Forum with her House colleague Rep. Eric Swalwell (D, CA-15) to address common issues facing millennials, the challenges of entering the work force, and solutions to exponentially increasing student debt. The congresswoman also visited the Maui Food Innovation Center, where she met with young entrepreneurs and UH Maui College students to discuss sustainable business practices and food security on the Valley Isle.

For more information, please contact Erika Tsuji at (808) 286-0803.