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EPA Closes Pflueger Stormwater Case After Successful Restoration of Kauai Property

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the successful conclusion of its case against James Pflueger for construction activities that damaged his former property and the beach and coral reefs at Pila’a on Kauai. The consent decree settling the Clean Water Act violations was closed after Pflueger stabilized and restored the slopes and streams.

Pflueger Stormwater Case“Thanks to the work completed under this settlement, this once-degraded land has a healthy population of native trees and shrubs and restored stream channels,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “With continued care by the new owners, these restoration efforts can be sustained for the future.”

EPA initiated its case after Pflueger conducted extensive grading and construction at the 378-acre coastal site without obtaining necessary Clean Water Act permits. Those activities included excavating a hillside to expose a 40-foot vertical road cut, grading a coastal plateau, creating new access roads to the coast, and dumping dirt and rock into three perennial streams. As a result, massive discharges of sediment-laden stormwater flowed to the ocean at Pila’a Bay in November 2001.

The settlement required Pflueger to build a wall to stabilize the road cut adjacent to the shoreline, remove dam material in streams, install erosion controls on roadways and trails, terrace slopes to slow runoff, use native plants to control erosion, and control invasive plants and animals on the property. He was also required to reconstruct natural rock-lined stream beds and reestablish native plants along the banks.

The 2006 stormwater settlement was the largest for federal Clean Water Act violations at a single site, by a single landowner, in the United States. Pflueger paid $2 million in penalties to the State of Hawaii and the United States, and was expected to spend approximately $5.3 million to conduct the required restoration efforts.

The State of Hawaii was a co-plaintiff in EPA’s case against Pflueger, and the settlement was joined by the Limu Coalition and Kilauea neighborhood organizations, which had also filed a lawsuit against Pflueger.

EPA and local community organizations involved in the settlement conducted oversight inspections throughout a ten-year restoration effort that was slowed by funding obstacles and the necessity of adapting the restoration projects to changing field conditions.

All Oahu and Kauai Genki Sushi Restaurants Ordered to Close Immediately

The Hawaii State Department of Health has mandated that all Oahu and Kauai Genki Sushi Restaurants close immediately.

Genki Sushi

The Department of Health determined the hepatitis A outbreak on Oahu is likely due to imported frozen scallops served raw at these restaurants.

The restaurants are now closed to prevent any further illness and protect the public.  No word on when they may reopen.

Hawaii Election Results Online

Hawaii GifElection results will be posted upon the close of polls on Election Day. Links to the Summary Reports will be available at that time.

* The results files may be temporarily inaccessible while we are uploading new files. Please refresh your browser window (e.g. click the refresh button) to view new results.  Clicking on another year in the menu does not load new results when returning to 2016.

Reports (PDF format)

Tropical Storm Howard Turns South

At 800 PM PDT (0300 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Howard was located near latitude 17.7 North, longitude 126.4 West.

TS Howard

Howard is moving toward the west-northwest near 14 mph (22 km/h), and this general motion with a slight increase in forward speed is forecast during the next couple of days.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts.  Some additional strengthening is possible during the next 12 hours or so, but weakening should commence by Tuesday night.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center.

The estimated minimum central pressure is 999 mb (29.50 inches).

FORECAST DISCUSSION:

Visible imagery and a 01/2038 UTC AMSR2 microwave pass show that Howard’s center of circulation has become exposed to the west of the cloud canopy.  Additionally, the entire western half of the cyclone has become devoid of deep convective banding.  It appears that modest westerly shear is impinging on the storm and undercutting the diffluent flow aloft.  A blend of the Final-T numbers from both TAFB and SAB yields an initial intensity of 45 kt for this advisory.  Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 12 hours while Howard remains over SSTs greater than 26C.

By the 24 hour period, the cyclone is expected to move over cooler sub-24 deg C water. Cooler SSTs and increasing southwesterly shear should induce steady weakening, resulting in Howard degenerating into a post-tropical cyclone in 48 hours, and a remnant low by day 3.

After that time, the large-scale models show the remnant low degenerating into a trough of low pressure.  The intensity forecast is a little above the previous forecast, but is lower than the IVCN intensity consensus.

Satellite position estimates suggest that Howard is moving toward the west-northwest, or 295 degrees, at about 12 kt.  Howard is expected to move in a general west-northwestward motion during the next 72 hours along the southern periphery of a subtropical ridge located to the north of the cyclone.  Through the remainder of the period, the cyclone is forecast to become a shallow remnant low and turn toward the west following the low-level easterly tradewind flow.  The official NHC forecast is quite similar to the previous one, and is hedged toward the TVCN multi-model consensus.

 

Missile Range Facility Building to be Named After Daniel K. Inouye

Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sands will be holding a naming ceremony for the PMRF Range and Range Operations Center, Building 105. The building will be named in honor of the late Senator from Hawaii, Daniel K. Inouye.

Makaha Ridge, 1970s.  Courtesy of PMRF.  (Click for more information)

Makaha
Ridge, 1970s. Courtesy of PMRF. (Click for more information)

Daniel K. Inouye was a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient who fought with the infamous 442nd Infantry regiment. He later served as a U.S. Senator from 1963-2012. His political career began with his election to the House of Representatives in 1959 followed by his election to the U.S. Senate. He was one of the longest serving U.S. Senators in history and the first Japanese American to serve in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. He was later named President pro tempore. The late Senator Inouye had a profound influence on politics in Hawaii.

The ceremony will be held at the PMRF Range and Range Operations Center, Building 105, Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands on Wednesday, July 20th beginning at 10:00 a.m. and ending at 11:00 a.m.

DBEDT Releases Data on Big Island and Kauai Consumer Spending

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released two reports today that provides data and analysis on spending patterns of Big Island and Kauai households in 2014.

Click to view report

Click to view report

The reports summarizes data obtained through household surveys conducted by DBEDT in 2015 and covers spending in 2014. DBEDT’s Research and Economic Analysis Division created the report.

Historically, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published the consumer expenditure data for Honolulu County, which was compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Consumer Expenditure Survey.  The BLS survey only included Oahu residents and excluded neighbor island residents.  Data on consumer spending patterns for neighbor islands did not exist before DBEDT compiled the data through household surveys.

Some of the findings in the Hawaii County report include the following:

  • An average household in Hawaii County spent an average of $51,700 in 2014. Of the 14 major spending categories, 71.2 percent of the expenditures went towards the three basic needs categories of housing, transportation, and food.H
  • Housing was the largest expenditure category, comprising an average of 40.5 percent of total expenditures or $20,921 in 2014. Housing was followed by transportation (16.3 percent or $8,405), food (14.4 percent or $7,420), and personal insurance & retirement savings (7.8 percent or $4,046).
  • In 2014, a typical Hawaii County household spent about $10,000 less than its Honolulu counterpart, who spent $62,280 on average. Compared with Honolulu County, Hawaii County consumers spent slightly less on housing and more on transportation and food, though the total shares allocated to these three basic needs categories are rather similar, both between 71 percent and 72 percent of total expenditures.
  • Hawaii County household’s annual expenditures were slightly lower than the U.S. average in 2014, with Hawaii County at $51,700 and the U.S. at $53,495.  Housing comprised a larger portion in Hawaii County consumers’ spending (40.5 percent for Hawaii County and 33.3 percent for U.S.). Hawaii County consumers spent relatively more on food (14.4 percent for Hawaii County and 12.6 percent for U.S.) and less on transportation (16.3 percent for Hawaii County and 17 percent for U.S.).
  • Lower income households spent relatively larger shares on the three basic needs categories, 78.3 percent for the lowest-income households compared with 65.5 percent for the highest-income households. Furthermore, higher income households spent both a greater amount and share of their expenditures on entertainment and insurance and retirement savings.
  • Homeowners with mortgages spent $65,911 in 2014, which was more than $20,000 higher than the annual expenditures of home renters and home owners without mortgages. Both homeowners with mortgages and renters spent a large share on housing, 42.2 percent and 44.8 percent, respectively, resulting in comparably smaller shares on most other spending categories, relative to home owners without mortgages.

Some of the findings in the Kauai County report include the following:

  • A typical household in Kauai County spent an average of $64,651 in 2014. Of the 14 major spending categories, nearly 73.2 percent of the expenditures went towards the three basic needs categories of housing, transportation, and food.
  • Housing was the largest expenditure category, comprising an average of 41.5 percent of total expenditures or $26,819 in 2014. Housing was followed by transportation (16.8 percent or $10,836), food (14.9 percent or $9,638), and personal insurance & retirement savings (6.8 percent or $4,398).
  • In 2014, a typical Kauai household spent more than $2,000 more than its Honolulu counterpart, who spent $62,280 on average. Compared with Honolulu County, Kauai consumers spent slightly less on housing and more on transportation and food, though the total shares allocated to these three basic needs categories are rather close, both at around 73 percent of total expenditures.  Kauai household’s annual expenditures were 21 percent higher than the U.S. average in 2014, with Kauai at $64,651 and the U.S. at $53,495.   Housing comprised a larger portion in Kauai consumers’ spending (41.5 percent for Kauai and 33.3 percent for U.S.). Kauai consumers spent relatively more on food (14.9 percent for Kauai and 12.6 percent for U.S.) and slightly less on transportation (16.8 percent for Kauai and 17 percent for U.S.).
  • Lower income households spent relatively larger shares on the three basic needs categories, 80 percent for the lowest-income households compared with 69.8 percent for the highest-income households. Furthermore, higher income households spent both a greater amount and share of their expenditures on transportation, insurance and retirement savings, and entertainment.
  • Homeowners with mortgages and renters had comparable shares for housing related expenses (44.5 percent versus 44 percent). However, homeowners’ annual expenditure amount was much higher than renters, with $87,460 for home owners with mortgages versus $54,139 for home renters.

The Hawaii County results are based on 554 completed surveys from the Big Island, and the Kauai County results are based on 337 completed surveys from the islands of Kauai and Lanai.

The full reports are available at:

files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/economic/reports/CE_Big_Island_Survey_Final.pdf

files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/economic/reports/CE_Kauai_Survey_Final.pdf

Shark Bites Kauai Surfer

A two mile stretch of Kalapakī Beach on Kauai’s southeastern shore has shark warning signs up today, after a surfer reports being bitten by a three to four-foot shark this morning.  The surfer drove himself to the hospital, was treated and released.

Shark Sighting Sign

Kalapakī Beach, which fronts the Marriott Hotel in Līhu‘e is not a lifeguard protected beach, so officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are posting signs to warn other ocean users about this incident and asking that they stay out of the water at least until noon tomorrow. This is standard protocol established between the state and all counties.

The surfer reports he was paddling out at about 6 a.m. when the shark bit him in the arm, 25-30 yards off shore. He suffered a single puncture wound.

Kauai Man Faces Felony Charges in Connection with Pregnant Monk Seal Beating

Arrest Result of Joint Federal, State & County Investigation

19 year old Shylo Akuna of Eleele, Kauai was arrested this afternoon by officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) special agents in connection with the beating of a 17-year old pregnant monk seal on April 26, 2016.

Shylo Akuna

Shylo Akuna

A short video clip of the incident was widely posted on social media and was picked up by news organizations around the country. That video, supported by eyewitness accounts led to Akuna’s arrest. He is being held at the Kauai Police Department pending further disposition on suspicion of “taking a monk seal.” This includes harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing or collecting an endangered or threatened aquatic species or terrestrial wildlife. If convicted of this Class C felony, Akuna could face one (1) to five (5) years in prison. Additionally the state environmental court may impose a fine of up to $50,000.

DOCARE Chief Thomas Friel said, “Thanks to the joint efforts of our Kauai branch officers, special agents from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Kauai Police Department, and Hawaii State Sheriffs we were able to investigate this crime, make an arrest, and bring this part of the case to a quick conclusion.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case added, “We’re grateful to the concerned citizens who brought this action to our attention and were willing to step forward with additional information to help law enforcement identify and arrest the suspect. We’re fortunate that the Hawaii State Legislature passed HRS 195D which provides very stiff penalties for these repugnant behaviors.

Ann M. Garrett, Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources, with the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office said, “NOAA Fisheries sincerely appreciates the outpouring of community support for RK30, the Hawaiian monk seal involved in this incident. She’s an important and productive member of the seal population. It’s clear from this outpouring that folks care a great deal about monk seals, and don’t want to see them harmed. The quick action by DLNR DOCARE, the Kauai Police Department, and NOAA OLE is very commendable, and likely would not have been as successful without the support of caring community members.”

Anyone who witnesses a monk seal or any other endangered or threatened species being threatened or injured in any manner by a person is urged to immediately call the NOAA Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the DOCARE statewide hotline at 643-DLNR.

Hawaii Health Department Confirms Second Case of Zika

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is investigating another imported case of Zika virus in Hawaii. This is the second case of Zika to be confirmed this year by the department’s State Laboratories Division. The Kauai resident has a history of recent travel to Latin America and may still be infectious. The individual has been advised to keep indoors and stay protected from mosquitoes. No additional information will be made available about this case to respect the privacy of the individual.

microcephalyA Vector Control team will visit the individual’s residence to survey the area for mosquitoes and determine if there is a need to treat the area to reduce any mosquito breeding sites. DOH is coordinating closely with its county partners to assure a targeted and efficient response.

“As Zika continues to spread in multiple regions across the world, we anticipate that we will experience an increase in imported cases and must take precautionary measures to reduce our risk for an outbreak in Hawaii,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “There are several simple steps that we can take as a community to accomplish this, such as getting rid of standing water around our homes to reduce mosquito breeding sites and using repellant or protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites. It is crucial that we keep these practices top-of-mind as we prepare for travel in and out of the state, especially to areas that may be affected by Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends special precautions for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika. If travel cannot be avoided, women should consult with their healthcare providers first and vigilantly follow steps to protect themselves from mosquitoes.

For travel guidance, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.

For information on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, visit:

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/symptoms/index.html.

For information on Zika and pregnancy, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/index.html.

Two Hawaii-Based Navy Commands Advance to Win Secretary of Navy Environmental Awards

Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) are winners of the 2015 Secretary of the Navy Environmental Award.  Awardees were announced Friday, March 11, 2016 in Washington D.C..

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) returns to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam following an independent deployment to the Western Pacific. Deployed since May, the crew of more than 350 Sailors steamed a total of 42,000 nautical miles across the U.S. 3rd, 4th and 7th Fleet areas of operation. While deployed Chafee conducted various theater security operations and goodwill activities with partner nations. Chafee also escorted USS George Washington (CVN 73) during a Southern Sea deployment around South America and through the Straits of Magellan before the carrier's return to Norfolk, Va., this month. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John M. Hageman/Released)

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) returns to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam following an independent deployment to the Western Pacific. Deployed since May, the crew of more than 350 Sailors steamed a total of 42,000 nautical miles across the U.S. 3rd, 4th and 7th Fleet areas of operation. While deployed Chafee conducted various theater security operations and goodwill activities with partner nations. Chafee also escorted USS George Washington (CVN 73) during a Southern Sea deployment around South America and through the Straits of Magellan before the carrier’s return to Norfolk, Va., this month. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John M. Hageman/Released)

PMRF, Barking Sands, on Kauai won the award for Natural Resources (small installation) and USS Chafee (DDG 90) homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam won the Afloat Environmental Award.

Both PMRF and USS Chafee were recently awarded with Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Awards on Feb. 22 which qualified them to advance, compete and win at the Secretary of the Navy Award level.

“These awards are the latest in a string of recognition that gives credence to our commitment to be good and caring stewards of the environment,” said Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. “I congratulate the men and women at PMRF and aboard USS Chafee, and I salute everyone on our team here in Hawaii – You are making a difference.”

PMRF works with federal and state agencies, schools, conservation organizations, the public and the host community to implement groundbreaking initiatives towards conservation, environmental protection and the protection of endangered species.  Initiatives include but are not limited to the Laysan Albatross Conservation program in which PMRF transfers Albatross eggs to Campbell National Wildlife refuge on Oahu providing new shelter and reducing the risk of aircraft strikes.

KAUAI, Hawaii (Oct. 27 2015) A member of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) environmental program at Pacific Missile Range (PMRF) Facility, Barking Sands on Kauai, starts up the ornithology radar used to keep track of flight patterns of the Newell’s Shearwater. The Newell’s Shearwater, an endangered pelagic seabird, leaves its nest on Kauai to the open ocean during the darkest nights. PMRF is implementing new programs such as the Dark Skies Program along with the use of radar ornithology to assist with ongoing conservation efforts and improve the birds’ chances of safely making it to sea. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gabrielle Joyner/released)

KAUAI, Hawaii (Oct. 27 2015) A member of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) environmental program at Pacific Missile Range (PMRF) Facility, Barking Sands on Kauai, starts up the ornithology radar used to keep track of flight patterns of the Newell’s Shearwater. The Newell’s Shearwater, an endangered pelagic seabird, leaves its nest on Kauai to the open ocean during the darkest nights. PMRF is implementing new programs such as the Dark Skies Program along with the use of radar ornithology to assist with ongoing conservation efforts and improve the birds’ chances of safely making it to sea. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gabrielle Joyner/released)

The “Dark Sky” initiative, which directs the turning off of all non-essential exterior lighting on PMRF during the Newell Shearwater, Hawaiian and Band-Rumped Storm Petrel migration season, has reduced “fallout” by these endangered birds that are naturally attracted to light.

“Although the accolades are nice, I am much more satisfied knowing that the entire PMRF Ohana takes their kuleana (responsibility) seriously.  Respecting and protecting the aina (land) while running the premier training and test range is not just what we do, it is who we are,” said Capt. Bruce Hay, Commanding Officer, PMRF.

Environmental protection and energy conservation were at the forefront of operations aboard USS Chafee in 2015, according to Cmdr. Shea Thompson, Chafee’s commanding officer.

“We’re all thrilled to have been selected for this award. We strive for efficiency in all aspects of our war-fighting operations and to be good stewards of our environment,” said Thompson.

USS Chafee transited more than 37,000 miles on a seven-month deployment to the 3rd, 4th, and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility during 2015 while participating in the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative, Talisman Sabre 15, UNITAS PAC 15, and UNITAS LANT 15.  USS Chafee conducted all operations with no impact to marine mammals and with safe and clean refueling operations.

Both Chafee and PMRF have been involved in Great Green Fleet operations in recent years, and both commands continue to support energy conservation and environmental stewardship.

Kauai Biomass Project Nears Completion

The new biomass-to-energy power plant near Koloa on Kauai has successfully started its hot commissioning and expects to begin selling electricity to Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) by the beginning of May 2015.

The 6.7-megawatt biomass-to-energy facility will burn wood chips from trees grown and harvested on Kauai.  The plant will provide more than 11 percent of the island’s energy needs.  Once in operation, the plant will replace 3.7 million gallons of imported oil a year.

Once in operation, the plant will replace 3.7 million gallons of imported oil a year.

The plant is being constructed by Green Energy Team LLC (GET), a Hawaii limited liability company, and is using a biomass energy generation technology developed by Standardkessel Baumgarte, a German company that is one of the world leaders in energy technology.

The plant will burn wood chips produced from several sources on Kauai, including short-rotation trees grown on about 2,000 acres of land and several locations on Kauai that have been cleared of invasive species.

The plant will have the capacity to generate 7.5-megawatts of renewable energy to be delivered as electricity to KIUC under a power purchase agreement approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission in October 2011. Unlike solar and wind energy, the plant will provide firm power—day and night, independent of weather conditions—to KIUC. It will supply about 11 percent of Kauai’s annual electricity needs and will substitute power produced by diesel generators.

The facility will contribute to the State’s renewable energy portfolio goals that presently aim to have 70 percent of Hawaii’s energy needs from renewable resources. It will also be an addition to KIUC’s renewable energy portfolio, which currently consists of several hydropower projects and the utility co-op’s own two solar farms as well as other solar farms and customer-sited solar photovoltaic systems.

Construction on Green Energy Team’s biomass plant began in January 2013 and is nearly completed. Standardkessel provided the design and equipment for the plant and is providing construction management for the project. Construction was done by Bodell Construction Company; final work shall be completed by Diana Prince Construction, Inc. Financing for construction of the $90 million project is being provided by Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas.

Once completed and operational, Green Energy Team’s plant will create 39 permanent operating jobs and many indirect jobs for local service providers and agricultural operations.

The Kauai-based plant will be the first closed-loop biomass-to-energy plant in the United States and fueled by trees grown on-island. This is also the first commercial biomass project since the period when former sugar companies also sold electricity to Hawaii’s electric utilities.

U.S. Court Overturns Law Limiting Biotech Crops on Kauai

A group of global biotech crop companies won a court victory on Monday that blocks enactment of a law passed last year limiting the planting of biotech crops and use of pesticides on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren of the U.S. District Court in Hawaii ruled that the law passed in November by local leaders on the island was invalid because it was pre-empted by Hawaii state law.

The Kauai law required large agricultural companies to disclose pesticide use and genetically modified (GMO) crop plantings while establishing buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals to protect people from exposure to pesticides used on the crops…

More Here: U.S. court overturns law limiting biotech crops on Hawaiian island

 

VIDEO: NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator Successfully Launched From Kauai

NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) was successfully launched on a helium balloon today at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii later the LDSD will be released at 120,000 feet and fire a Star 48B rocket motor to boost it to Mach 4.0 and 180,000 feet.

NASA IFO

This height and speed simulates a spacecraft flying through the Martian atmosphere and is where the air breaking systems will be tested on the LDSD vehicle.
[youtube=http://youtu.be/R0_rhvrdJVU]
LDSD is fitted with what is called SIAD-R, a giant dounaut air bag that will increase the diameter of the vehicle and help slow it down to Mach 2.5 where a supersonic parachute will deploy ahead of a safe landing in the Pacific Ocean for recovery.

Big Island Farmers File Federal Complaint About GMO Bill

We’re Standing United with Agriculture to Protect the Future of Farming in Hawaii

Papaya Trees Destroyed by Machete in Puna

Papaya Trees Destroyed by Machete in Puna

“Our organization is participating in this lawsuit because we have cause and want to stand with farmers, ranchers and growers when unfair and unnecessary laws and regulations threaten our livelihood.

“Bill 113 will make it illegal to grow some genetically modified (GM) plants, including valuable food and feed crops and flowers. By prohibiting the use of these crops that have been deemed by the government and scientific experts to be perfectly safe, Bill 113 is a direct assault on our ‘right to farm’ and essentially criminalizes those who rely on the tools of modern biotechnology to foster productivity.”

“United we stand, divided we fall”

Background:

Signed into law on December 5, 2013, Hawaii County enacted Bill 113, which imposes a county-wide ban on the development, propagation, cultivation, and open-air testing of most genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Plaintiffs represent a broad cross-section of Hawaii Island farmers and related businesses that rely on GE crops, including disease-resistant papaya, as well as technology companies that develop, test, and commercialize valuable, new GE agricultural products.

Farmers and Agriculture Associations are standing United; participating in this suit, which seeks to invalidate and enjoin the County of Hawaii from enforcing County Ordinance 13-121 (“Bill 113”).  The suit alleges that the bill:

  • is preempted under federal law
  • is preempted under state law
  • violates the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution
  • presents a regulatory taking in violation of the HI Constitution

Plaintiffs include:

  • Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association
  • Hawaii Papaya Industry Association
  • Big Island Banana Growers Association
  • Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council
  • Biotechnology Industry Organization
  • Pacific Floral Exchange
  • Richard Ha
  • Jason Moniz
  • Gordon Inouye
  • Eric Tanouye

Key Points:

  • Bill 113 cripples farmers’ current and future ability to farm GE crops, imposes extreme burdens on local agriculture and violates Federal and Hawaii law.
  • Despite the central role of GE crops in modern commercial agriculture and their long history of safe use in Hawaii and around the world, Bill 113 imposes a near-blanket ban on new cultivation, propagation, development, and open-air testing of such crops in the County.

Bill 113 is backed by no findings or evidence that GE crops are in any way harmful, or in any way endanger the local environment.

Using the “precautionary principle,” Bill 113 is in direct conflict with determinations made by expert federal agencies, and seeks to outlaw agricultural activities that the federal government has specifically authorized following thorough scientific reviews.

  • Farming GE crops has also long been a generally accepted agricultural practice locally and GE crops have been vitally important to the County of Hawaii.

In the 1990s, Hawaii’s papaya industry was devastated by the ringspot virus. The development of a GE variety of papaya that is resistant to the virus is widely credited with saving the industry.

The resulting Rainbow GE variety of papaya now accounts for approximately 85 percent of papaya grown in the County and is widely sold throughout the United States and in other nations.

County farmers support federally-approved testing to develop new disease-resistant papaya and banana plants and floral varieties that resist harmful insect pests and bacteria.

  • GE crops not only help farmers, but contribute to food security for the island. By banning any use of new GE crops, Hawaii consumers can expect increases in food costs, business costs, and pesticide use.
  • If farmers in Hawaii are unable to farm efficiently and productively, more costly foods will need to be imported.
  • The State of Hawaii has deemed the promotion of “diversified agriculture” a vital public interest. This principle is enshrined in the Constitution of Hawaii, which expressly directs the State – not the counties – to conserve and protect agricultural and farming resources.

COEXISTENCE:

Individual farmers routinely incorporate multiple production practices within a single operation.  Coexistence is not about health or safety; it is about finding ways to improve working relationships when different production systems are used in close proximity.

SAFETY:

Every GE crop on the market today was thoroughly evaluated by government scientific experts, often at as many as three different federal regulatory agencies, through a complex multiyear scientific review process.

Not only have GE crops been deemed safe by expert federal agencies, but multiple other governmental and non-governmental agencies have reached the same conclusions, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the European Commission, and the British Medical Association.

More than 600 peer-reviewed scientific reports document the safety of GE foods.

GENERA a project by BIOFORTIFIDE to create a searchable database to more than 2000 studies on biotechnology in Food and agriculture.

TRANSPARENCY:

We understand people have questions about how their food is grown. We need to have the discussion before we prematurely make laws that cripple the Future of Farmers and unfairly target growers using technology. While industry will stand with growers and challenge unfair and unlawful ordinances like Bill 113, we urge people to visit the GMO Answers website (http://gmoanswers.com) to get more information about the products of biotechnology.

The Rainbow Papaya that saved Hawaii’s papaya industry was genetically engineered to resist the ringspot virus. See how it was done by viewing this video on gmoanswers.com.

NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) to Test Next Week on Kauai

NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project will fly a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle into near-space next week from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD)

NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD)

Briefing panelists scheduled to be on hand include:

  • U.S. Navy Capt. Bruce Hay, PMRF Commanding Officer
  • Mike Gazarik, Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Mark Adler, LDSD Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California
  • Ian Clark, LDSD principal investigator at JPL

NASA has identified six potential dates for launch of the high-altitude balloon carrying the LDSD experiment: June 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13. Decisions to attempt launch of the LDSD test will be made the day before each launch opportunity date.

U.S. Navy Launches Missile From Kauai Test Site

The US. Navy conducted a missile test off Kauai yesterday:

The Aegis Ashore Weapon System launched an SM-3 Block IB guided missile from the land-based Vertical Launch System during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test from Kauai, Hawaii on May 20, 2014.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/R9a12iPEis0]

Learn more about Aegis Ashore by visiting the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Site.

$2.2 Million in Safe Routes to School Grants Awarded

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) is pleased to announce the following Safe Routes To School (SRTS) grant awards. Applications were received and grants awarded in each county statewide.

Safe Routes

Applications for these projects were submitted during HDOT’s third round call for applications for SRTS federal funds provided by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). SRTS grants are awarded in two categories: Non-Infrastructure and Infrastructure Projects.

Non-Infrastructure Projects:

  • Fern Elementary School, Oahu, was awarded $46,933 for the Fern Elementary School SRTS Project. The project will consist of pedestrian and bicycle safety education, a walking school bus program, and school meetings and flyers to educate parents and neighbors of Fern Elementary School. In addition, the project will include a media campaign of 30-second radio spots written and recorded by students.
  • PATH – Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii, a non-profit organization, was awarded $20,094 for the Putting Our Plans to Work Project. The project will provide bicycle education at West Hawaii Explorations Academy and pedestrian education, bicycle education and sign waving at Keonepoko Elementary School. Also, the project will establish new walking school bus routes at Waimea Elementary School and Waikoloa Elementary School on Hawaii Island.
  • The University of Hawaii at Manoa Office of Public Health Studies was awarded $24,630 for the Get Fit Kauai SRTS Project. The project will consist of bicycle education at Kapaa Elementary School and King Kaumualii Elementary School, as well as a comprehensive media plan that will include print and radio.

Infrastructure Projects:

  • The County of Kauai Public Works Department was awarded $251,500 for the Island-Wide Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) Crosswalks and Sidewalk Improvements Project. The Project will install RRFB systems near Kalaheo Elementary School, Kekaha Elementary School and Kapaa Middle School. In addition, a new sidewalk will be constructed along the east side of Alae Road from Kaumualii Highway to Iwipolena Street near Kekaha Elementary School.
  • The County of Kauai Public Works Department was awarded $416,540 for the King Kaumualii SRTS Phase 1 Project. The project will install RRFB systems at two existing school crosswalks on Hanamaulu Road. The project will also construct new sidewalks along Hoohana Street from Laukona Street to Akuili Street, Akuili Street from Hoohana Street to Hanamaulu Road, and the north-side of Hanamaulu Road from King Kaumualii Elementary to Hanamaulu Place. In addition, a new median on Hanamaulu Road at the school entrance and a striped crosswalk at the school exit will be provided.
  • The County of Kauai Public Works Department was awarded $490,875 for the Koloa Safe Routes Phase 2 Project. The project will replace the existing sidewalk on Poipu Road fronting Koloa Elementary School, construct new sidewalk on the east-side of Poipu Road from Waikomo Road to Blakes Lane, and extend the existing sidewalk on Paanau Road west to Hikina Road. The project will also extend existing bike lanes on Poipu Road from Koloa Road to Waikomo Road and from Blakes Lane approximately 1,000 feet south.
  • The County of Maui Public Works Department was awarded $502,443 for the Paia School Frontage Improvements Project. The project will construct new sidewalk along the south-side of Baldwin Avenue from Anohou Street to Paia Gym, and the frontage of Paia School. The project will also provide a new sidewalk from the alleyway off the Haawina Street and Palekana Street intersection within Skill Village to the existing Paia Gym parking lot.
  • The County of Maui Public Works Department was awarded $455,495 for the Paia School Sidewalk Improvements Project. The project will replace and widen the existing sidewalk from Paia Gym to Paia School.

SRTS is an international effort to increase safety and promote walking and bicycling to and from school. The federally-funded SRTS program was established by Section 1404 of SAFETEA-LU and signed into law in 2005. For more information on the SRTS federal program in Hawaii, please visit http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/safe-routes-to-school-program/.

Search for Possible Missing Kayaker Near Kauai

The Coast Guard is searching for a possible missing kayaker approximately half a mile northeast of Kilauea Point on the north shore of Kauai, Saturday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Kauai received a call at 11:11 a.m. from a good Samaritan on shore stating that she noticed an unmanned, adrift yellow kayak in the area.

The Kauai Fire Department located the kayak with dive gear that included fins, a wet suit, paddle and weights aboard. The Fire Department searched in the vicinity of the kayak and found no one in distress.

KayakThe kayak is approximately 15 feet long with the words “KAYAKKAUAI.COM” and “OCEAN KAYAK,” and a single line hanging off the side. There are no other markings on the kayak.

A 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew from Station Kauai is actively searching the area.

No one has been reported missing or in distress in the area.

The Coast Guard advises the public to register and label all watercraft and equipment with contact information in order to quickly account for owners and prevent any unnecessary searches.

Through the Operation Paddle Smart program, the Coast Guard offers a free “If Found” decal to be placed in a visible location on small, human-powered watercraft. The information on the sticker can allow response entities to quickly identify the vessel’s owner and aid search and rescue planners in determining the best course of action.

The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices and at select marine retail and supply stores.

The Coast Guard is asking mariners to keep a sharp eye out for anyone possibly in distress.

Anyone with information can help identify the owner of the kayak is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at (808) 842-2600.

Collaboration Between the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and Wilcox Hospital Formed to Help Combat Infectious Diseases on Kaua`i

A collaboration between the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and Wilcox Hospital has formed Hawai’i’s first interdisciplinary Antimicrobial Stewardship Program (ASP) to help combat infectious diseases on Kaua`i.

UH Hilo MonikerASPs are programs designed to improve the utilization of appropriate antibiotics with the goals of improving patient outcomes and lowering healthcare associated costs, as well as slowing the development of antimicrobial resistance.

“The management of infectious diseases is a constant arms race, and, as medication experts, pharmacists are uniquely qualified to help drive ASPs,” said Roy Goo, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, who is based on Kaua`i. “As new antimicrobial agents are developed, bacterial, viral and fungal organisms evolve with new resistance mechanisms that confer immunity to even our best medications. Even with proper medication, it is estimated that 50 percent of antibiotics are used inappropriately.

“The practice of infectious diseases is the art of using only what is necessary to cure the infection and nothing more,” added Goo. “One of the basic principles of infectious diseases is the more antimicrobial agents we use, the faster resistance develops.” He points out that in recent years multiple strains of bacteria have arisen that are resistant to all currently available antibiotics.

In Hawaiʻi, Goo shows how the College of Pharmacy has played an integral role in the development of these programs across the State. With support from Wilcox Hospital’s inpatient pharmacy department and the hospital’s infectious disease physician Dr. Jimmy Yoon, students screen for patients who are on high-cost or high-risk antimicrobials. They then assess the appropriateness of the antimicrobial regimen for each patient and present their recommendations to the entire infectious disease team, who makes changes to optimize therapy.

“The Center for Disease Control strongly recommends that hospitals perform some form of antimicrobial stewardship, and it is likely that it will become mandated by the Center for Medicare/ Medicaid Services (CMS) in a couple of years,” Yoon said. “At Wilcox Memorial Hospital, we like to be ahead of the curve. Right now we are lucky that we have very few resistant bacteria, and we want to keep it that way. There is a clear correlation between bacterial resistance and increased morbidity and mortality as well as healthcare costs.”

Recognizing the importance of training pharmacists to fill this growing need, Yoon often spends time with students and tests them on their drug knowledge. Students consult with members of Wilcox Memorial Hospital’s Radiology staff, who also volunteer their time to go over chest X-rays and other imaging studies to point out abnormalities that serve as possible indications of infection.

“The drug pipeline for antimicrobial agents is dry so we need to save the agents that we have,” Yoon said. “My anticipation is that for pharmacists this is going to be a huge area for growth.”

This positive experience has led to other collaborative programs at Straub Hospital and Pali Momi Medical Center (PMMC) on O`ahu. Pharmacist Melissa Yoneda, a DKICP alumni from the Class of 2013, is currently helping to establish a pharmacy-driven ASP at PMMC in collaboration with the PMMC pharmacy, nursing and physician staff.

The release of an ASP module and guidance statement from the CDC indicates that ASPs will likely become a requirement across the United States. Certain states such as California have already made it mandatory that hospitals that enjoy Medicare reimbursement have an established ASP in place.

Rescue Crews Find Missing Fisherman Safe Off Kauai

A fisherman who spent the night off the coast of Kauai is safe after Coast Guard rescue crews located him five miles off of Kapa’a, Kauai, Thursday.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received a call at 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, from a man reporting that his friend was overdue on his 14-foot Boston Whaler. The 61-year-old fisherman departed from the Waikaea Canal in Kapa’a, Kauai earlier in the day to fish a few miles off of Kapa’a with group of other fishing boats.

Waikaea Canal

Waikaea Canal

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu launched a 47-Motor Life Boat crew from Station Kauai, the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake, a C-130 Hercules airplane crew and two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point to search for the man.

An urgent marine information broadcast was also issued to all mariners in the area, asking for their assistance in locating the missing mariner.

The Kauai Fire Department and Kauai Police Department also joined the search.

At 8:09 a.m., one of the Dolphin helicopter crews located the fisherman and directed the MLB crew to the fisherman’s position. He was safely escorted back to Kapa’a Harbor.

The search covered nearly 2,000 square miles.

“If the mariner had a VHF radio on board, he likely would have overheard the Coast Guard’s Urgent Marine Information Broadcast being transmitted on Ch. 16 looking for him.” said Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Peterson, an operational watchstander at the Sector Honolulu command center. “He then could have contacted the Coast Guard or other mariners for assistance.”

The mariner reported hearing a helicopter but the light he was flashing was not seen by rescue crews due to the weather conditions. He was not equipped with a VHF marine radio, GPS, compass or signal flares.

The Coast Guard advises all mariners to ensure they are property equipped before heading out. This includes having life jackets, a VHF marine radio, flares and a compass or GPS.

For more information on boating safety, mariners can visit www.uscgboating.org