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Thanks to the generous support of Hawai’i Community Foundation and our friends at groundwire.org, this blog has a new home at www.KAHEA.org.

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We have done an excellent job of standing up for Hawaii’s conservation lands and waters!  Last Fall, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) proposed a suite of regulatory rollbacks in Hawaii’s conservation areas.  Hundreds of individuals and organizations stepped up to defend Hawaii’s sacred and significant lands, and the DLNR staff listened. The majority of these rollbacks have been abandoned!!  Please make a point to thank the DLNR staff for listening.

BUT (there’s always a but), three major loopholes still linger. We need your help right now to halt them.

1. Just add “comprehensive”: by changing definitions and re-structures subsections, the new rules would effectively erase the Third Circuit Court’s ruling in favor of protecting Mauna Kea’s natural and cultural resources through comprehensive management.

We can prevent this rollback by asking DLNR to insert the word “comprehensive” into the sections that require management plans for astronomy facilities.  This should be extended to include open ocean aquaculture facilities too.

With this one word, Hawaii’s land managers could abandon the piecemeal decision-making that has allowed so much of our public trust lands and waters to be sacrificed in the past. And instead embrace truly comprehensive management, where resource protection is the primary purpose of all decision-making.

2. Protective zone is not an energy production zone: The new rules would allow for renewable energy production facilities to be located in the most protected subzone of the conservation district.  This makes no sense.  We all support renewable energy, but not when it is pitted against the protection of our most fragile wilderness areas.

3. Public oversight on commercial uses: The new rules would take away the requirement that commercial activities in the conservation district undergo a public hearing.  There is a lot of opportunity for abuse in these situations.  At the very least, commercial use of state (ceded) lands in the conservation district should undergo public hearing and Board approval.

Please attend the hearings this week and next (info below) and thank DLNR staff for listening and urge them to close the last loopholes.

Hearings start at 5:30 pm:

  • January 24, 2011 Waiehu, Maui
    Paukukalo Community Center, 657 Kaumualii St.
  • January 25, 2011 Hilo, Hawaii
    Hawaii County Council Room, 25 Aupuni St.
  • January 31, 2011 Kaunakakai, Molokai
    Mitchell Pauole Center, 90 Ainoa St.
  • February 1, 2011 Lihue, Kauai
    Lihue Library, 4344 Hardy St.
  • February 7, 2011 Kona, Hawaii
    Mayor’s Conf. Room, 75-5706 Kuakini Hwy, Rm 103
  • February 9, 2011 Honolulu, Oahu
    Kalanimoku Bldg., 1151 Punchbowl St., Rm 132
  • Link to Proposed Rule Changes:
    www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/occl

    Mahalo nui,
    Marti and All Us Guys at KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance

    1149 Bethel St., #415
    Honolulu, HI 96813
    www.kahea.org
    blog.kahea.org

    phone: 808-524-8220 (O`ahu), 877-585-2432 toll-free
    email: kahea-alliance@hawaii.rr.com

    KAHEA: the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance is a network of thousands of diverse individuals islands-wide and around the world. Together, we work to secure the strongest possible protections for Hawaii’s most ecologically unique and culturally sacred places and resources.

In the first week of the 2011 Legislative Session, the priorities for achieving a more sustainable future in Hawai‘i are already apparent. Ending Hawai‘i’s over-dependence on imported food and oil, as well as basic respect for indigenous knowledge and traditional practice as a component of environmental protection dominated the latest meeting of the Environmental Legislative Network (ELN).

“The time is now to make fundamental changes,” said Marti Townsend at the ELN meeting. “This year Hawai‘i has a real opportunity to finally flip our dependence on imported food and energy and embrace culturally appropriate management paradigms.”

As the longstanding roundtable of Hawai‘i-based organizations involved in environmental policy, ELN convened this forum at the State Capitol to hear the priorities of more than 20 groups, citizens, and agencies tracking legislation this session. The Sierra Club and the Environmental Caucus of the Hawai‘i Democratic Party highlighted the need for a system to promote and encourage local agriculture.

The Hawai‘i Farmers Union and Hawai‘i School Garden Hui echoed the need for more agricultural education and resilience in Hawai‘i’s food systems. “Agriculture is alive in the hearts, minds, and hands of Hawai‘i’s youth who are experiencing nature through school gardens and other outdoor, applied learning opportunities,” said Hui member, Lydi Morgan Bernal. “They are the future farmers and pono stewards of our lands, waters, and communities.”

ELN members recognized that respect for indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices is key to sustainable development and proper management of Hawai‘i’s environment. Accordingly, ELN members prioritized proposals that addressed fundamental concerns for the rights of Hawai‘i’s indigenous people.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs identified three environmental priorities, including tightening of the requirements for the sale of state lands; establishing basic training for appointed officials on the rights of Native Hawaiians; and setting minimum requirements for all cultural impact assessments included in environmental impact statements or assessments.

“OHA is committed to safeguarding Hawai‘i’s land and cultural resources,” said Clyde Nāmu‘o, OHA’s chief executive officer. “This benefits Native Hawaiians and all of the people of Hawai‘i.”

In addition, groups at the ELN forum highlighted the need to continue support for land conservation funds and to find additional dedicated funding to address invasive species. “These funds and programs play a direct roll in protecting the state’s forests and fresh water supply, and prevent invasive species from doing further harm to our economy, environment and quality of life,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Mark Fox. “We ask the Legislature to continue to recognize that a healthy economy in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is dependent on a healthy environment.”

Also at the top of the list for legislative initiatives this session were: reducing plastic bags, improving invasive species controls, protecting endangered species, greater shoreline setbacks, and funding for the Climate Change Taskforce. All of the issues presented at the ELN forum are included in the attached summary of legislative priorities.

ELN members will be using the new Capitol Watch system as a method of tracking bills and resolutions throughout this legislative session. “We know the legislative process can be opaque to most people,” said Robert Harris of the Sierra Club. “The Capitol Watch is intended to demystify the process so people can follow their passion this legislative session.” The Capitol Watch system is open to the public and available at: http://www.sierraclubhawaii.com/capitol-watch.

______________________________

ELN Participants

Conservation Council for Hawai‘i
Environmental Caucus of the Hawai‘i Democratic Party
Friends of Lana‘i
Hanalei Watershed Hui
Hawai‘i Audubon Society
Hawai‘i Farmers Union
Hawai‘i School Garden Hui
Hawai‘i’s Thousand Friends
KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance
Life of the Land
Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui
My Organic Mom
Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation
Office of Hawaiian Affairs
PONO
Pono Aquaculture Alliance
Progressive Democrats
Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter
Surfrider Foundation
The Green House Hawai‘i
The Nature Conservancy
Trust for Public Land
Voter-Owned Hawai‘i
Windward Ahupua‘a Alliance

See attached list “2011 Legislative Priorities,” Hawai‘i Environmental Legislative Network.

2011 Legislative Priorities
Hawai‘i Environmental Legislative Network

Conservation Council for Hawai‘i
Marjorie Ziegler, Director, http://www.conserveHI.org

1. Remove take restrictions on public hunting of game mammals. This modernizes the game program so that hunters can take more animals for food, and prevents the State from protecting these introduced animals at the expense of native Hawaiian species, essential watersheds, cultural sites, and agricultural lands.

2. Increase funding and identify permanent sources of funding for agricultural inspections at ports of entry and for invasive species control, research, and outreach on each island. Invasive species threaten public health, quality of life, the environment, the culture, watersheds, agriculture, and the economy.

3. Defend the Natural Area Reserve Fund, Land Conservation Fund, and Rental Housing Trust Fund against funding cuts and raids. These funds – supported by the conveyance tax – promote wildlife conservation, watershed protection, land acquisition in the public interest, and affordable housing.

Environmental Caucus of the Hawai‘i Democratic Party, Food Security and Sustainability Subcommittee, Juanita Kawamoto

1. Support establishment of a co-op livestock feed mill
2. Promote agricultural education through the development of school gardens and farms
3. Establish task force to better support farmers on agricultural leases

Environmental Caucus of the Hawai‘i Democratic Party, Energy and Climate Subcommittee, Charles Ice

1. Improve the Barrel Tax
2. Establish a Smart Grid
3. Encourage a better bicycle system

Environmental Caucus of the Hawai‘i Democratic Party, Natural Resources Subcommittee, William Sager

1. Improve Invasive Species Quarantine:
- Adequately fund the Invasive Species Committees rapid response teams.
- Resolution to improve quarantine inspection system that will minimize the introduction of alien pests, including joint federal-state inspection facilities at ports of entry like Honolulu International Airport and Honolulu Harbor.

2. Ban the use of plastic bags and Styrofoam food containers in Hawai‘i.

3. Establish a 2,000-foot conservation easement coastline setback on all state-owned lands on the Big Island.

Friends of Lana‘i
friendsoflanai@gmail.com, http://www.friendsoflanai.org

1. Reject any proposals that sidetrack or “streamline” the EIS process for any industrial power plant project. Considering the age, impatience and history of the Mainland developer for the proposed industrial wind power plant on Lana’i, it is very possible that Castle & Cooke, DBEDT and other state agencies, will try again to fast-track permit approvals, the EIS review process and/or other oversight provisions for renewable energy projects; e.g., DLNR attempting to change their conservation use district rules.

2. Insure that all public meetings with agendas that could impact Lana’i include at least one meeting on Lana’i. The recently announced list of public meetings for the DLNR’s review of conservation district rule changes includes visits to every island EXCEPT Lana’i.

3. Increase the number of Department of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) officers on Lana’i from one to three. It is impossible for one individual to effectively police this island of 90,000 acres.

Hanalei Watershed Hui
Maka‘ala Kauamoana, Executive Director

Defend and build the capacity of community-based stewardship programs to ensure long-term management of natural resources by those who rely on them most.

Hawai‘i School Garden Hui

http://hawaiischoolgardenhui.org

Form public-private partnerships to strengthen pre-kindergarten through post-secondary agricultural education and farm-to-school programs.

Hawai‘i’s Thousand Friends/League of Women Voters
http://www.Hawaiis1000friends.org

1. Ensure best possible mass transportation system for Oahu
2. Ensure system-wide improvements to the Honolulu Sewer System

KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance
Marti Townsend, Program Director, http://www.kahea.org

1. Promote public access to the beach by establishing a “citizen suit provision,” which would allow individuals to enforce existing public access rights.

2. Encourage the development of sustainable food systems, including proper regulation of open ocean aquaculture and commercial fishing, strict limitations on genetic modification of food, and support for local farmers.

3. Prevent the weakening of Hawai‘i’s environmental review requirements (Haw. Rev. Stat. §343).

Life of the Land
Henry Curtis, Executive Director, http://www.LifeoftheLandHawaii.org

Improve transparency in public utility rates. After the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a power purchase contract, the cost figures should be made public. Ratepayers and taxpayers deserve to know how much different sources of electricity cost. Renewable energy companies would gain certainty understanding cost parameters.

My Organic Mom
Routh Bolomet, info@myorganicmom.com

1) Healthy Hawai‘i First act: A) Ban any chemical, food additive, ingredient, practice or procedure that will diminish the nutritional value or biological balance of our people’s health, threaten our food supply or resources that we use to grow our food in: water, air, soil. B) Regulate chemical trespass and chemical transformation due to Hawai‘i’s tradewinds and temperatures that exceed 76 degrees. Enforcement funded by fines and food import tax.

2) Sustainable Hawai‘i — Green Reward Incentive tax reduction programs: A) All new building permits must require new buildings or developments to be at least 75% self sustainable. All materials and systems brought into Hawaii must be reused or recycled without additional cost to the State or Counties. B) Upgrade State and County power generation infrastructure; C) Make these green systems available to the public for residential infrastructure reduction thru a mass purchasing facility (State Sustainability Depot).

3) Food Sustainability: A) Encourage backyard gardens — lessening the need to import food items and encouraging the consumption of food with higher nutritional values. B) Establish organic agricultural parks to support farmer success. Housing must be made available to the farming families on part of the land in a residential complex away from the fields. Funded by food import tax and 10% of food sales.

Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation
Alan Murakami, http://nhlchi.org

1. Establish a private attorney general right of action to impose penalties for violation of the burial protection laws and to clarify the breadth of available legal remedies to protect ancient Hawaiian burials from desecration by development.

2. Demand greater accountability for the production of homestead awards and begin to make adequate funding available to the DHHL, starting with an appropriation to pay for the installation of a water system to support pastoral homesteading at Honoka‘a.

3. Appointment of a cultural monitor to oversee and report on the implementation of programs to recognize and respect the ability of native Hawaiian prisoners in private prisons on the continent to observe religious/cultural practices while incarcerated without interference from prison officials.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs — Environmental Legislative Priorities
http://www.oha.org

1. Remedy the inconsistent quality of cultural impact assessments (CIAs) by codifying minimum requirements for assessing the impacts of a proposal on cultural practices; names OHA as the accepting authority for CIAs.

2. Require all council, board, and commission members that have an obligation to protect Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights and related resources to attend a training course on their public trust responsibilities to Native Hawaiians.

3. Amendments to laws regulating the sale of state-controlled land to better enable decision-makers to assess the proposed sales and determine whether or not the lands were part of the public lands of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i or not.

PONO
Keiko Bonk, Director, http://www.oahurcd.org/pono

1. Pursue adequate state funding for the recovery of Hawai‘i’s 439 endangered species with focus on Hawai‘i State being out of compliance with ESA and MMPA laws for the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal (ie. Gillnets and no required mitigation plan). Urgent need for funding for seal outreach and education for resident & visitor population.

2. Ban on Hawai‘i’s reef wildlife taking for sale by the international aquarium trade. Strong focus on endemic Hawaiian species for sale in this novelty industry.

Pono Aquaculture Alliance
http://www.ponoaqua.org

Encourage sustainable open ocean aquaculture by establishing minimum requirements for all open ocean aquaculture operations in state waters.

Sierra Club, Hawai‘i Chapter
Robert Harris, Executive Director, http://www.sierraclub.org/hawaii

1. Establish food sustainability standards that lay out Hawai‘i’s vision for the amount of local food it will produce and create metrics to determine our success in achieving these goals. Our state policy should encourage growing pono and eating ono.

2. Continue to reduce Hawai‘i’s opala (waste) addiction by reducing the number of paper and plastic bags sold, requiring recycling of CFL bulbs, and creating a mandatory “opt-in” requirement for the distribution of telephone books.

3. Require the use of native plants in public landscaping to ensure our government takes a leadership role in protecting indigenous plant species throughout Hawai‘i.

Surfrider Foundation
Stuart Coleman, surfrider.org/oahu

1. Ban single-use plastic bags (following the lead of Kauai and Maui) or establish a small fee for each single-use plastic or paper bag used to reduce the amount of waste going into our landfills and encourage people to use reusable bags;

2. Create a pilot program to promote water recycling and the re-use of gray water (from washers, showers and non-kitchen sinks) for 10% of Hawai‘i’s homeowners, saving money for individual owners and the counties by reducing the amount of water going into our wastewater treatment plants.

3. Create an initiative that offers qualified homeowners low-interest loans and/or tax incentives to upgrade from cesspools to septic tanks to reduce leaching sewage and water pollution, especially in rural and coastal lands.

4. Establish a 2000-foot shoreline setback on all Big Island state land from Ulupo Point to Volcanoes National Park to protect the historic Ala Kahakai Trail and preserve public access to the coast.

The Green House Hawai‘i
Betty Gearen and Gabriela Orante, info@thegreenhousehawaii.com

1. Reduce the environmental footprint of schools
2. Promote environmental education in schools.

The Nature Conservancy
Mark Fox, Legislative Coordinator, http://www.tnc.org

1. Defend the Natural Area Reserve Fund, Land Conservation Fund, and Rental Housing Trust Fund against funding cuts and raids. These funds – supported by the conveyance tax – promote wildlife conservation, watershed protection, land acquisition in the public interest, and affordable housing.

2. Increase funding and identify permanent sources of funding for agricultural inspections at ports of entry and for invasive species control, research, and outreach on each island. Invasive species threaten public health, quality of life, the environment, the culture, watersheds, agriculture, and the economy.

3. Support planning and resilience in our natural and constructed infrastructure to the effects of climate change. Ultimately, a small portion of the barrel fee (5-10%) should go to addressing the inevitable effects of climate change caused by burning fossil fuels. A good start would be to actually fund and organize the Climate Change Task Force created by the Legislature.

Trust for Public Land
Lea Hong, Executive Director, http://www.tpl.org

Defend the Natural Area Reserve Fund, Land Conservation Fund, and Rental Housing Trust Fund against funding cuts and raids. These funds – supported by the conveyance tax – promote wildlife conservation, watershed protection, land acquisition in the public interest, and affordable housing.

Voter Owned Hawai‘i: Working for Fair Elections
Kory Payne, Executive Director, http://www.voterownedhawaii.org

Support improvements to the outdated partial public funding program by supporting the Big Island public funding pilot program, which gives county council candidates the chance to qualify for a competitive amount of money to run for office.

Windward Ahupua‘a Alliance
Shannon Wood, Executive Director, http://www.waa-hawaii.org

1. Re-establish the CLIMATE CHANGE TASK FORCE – ACT 20 Special Session 2009 whose funding was never released by Governor Linda Lingle after her veto was over-ridden. Thus, its objectives – to identify current & potential impacts of global warming & sea level rise, to estimate the costs to mitigate damages caused by them & to suggest legislative & administrative policy changes primarily at county & state levels – were never carried out.

2. Create a temporary task force comprised of representatives from state & county public agencies, private sector businesses, non-governmental organizations, academic researchers, legal experts, and legislators to examine and evaluate Chapter 205 – Land Use Commission to identify sections which need legislative modifications reflecting 21st century social, cultural, environmental & economic shifts in policies & standards – especially section 205-17 – Land use commission decision-making criteria.

3. Establish a voluntary tax refund check-off fund ($3 to $5 per refund check) to provide additional financial support for the Natural Area Reserve Fund, the Land Conservation Fund, and Rental Housing Trust Fund. Hawai`i taxpayers already have set up similar check-offs for domestic violence programs, school repairs & maintenance, publicly-funded elections, and the state library system.

From Marti:

After sitting through four days of testimony from Tropic Land, the developer proposing to industrialize farmland at the back of Lualualei Valley, last week the Concerned Elders of Wai‘anae finally got their chance to say their peace.  In just a day and a half, the Elders presented 9 witnesses, 5 of them experts.  They all testified to the immense cultural significance of this area and the inadequacy of the cultural impact assessment conducted for this property, they testified to the rural nature of this community and how 500 more vehicles an hour on these roads would cripple their traffic system, they also testified to the history of farming on this exact spot, the tendency of this area to flood, and how poor the soil is for building on.

Professor Puakea Nogelmeier, Eric Enos and Emil Wolfgramm schooled the developer and the Commission on the cultural significance of landscape to Native Hawaiian cultural practice and the importance of the demigod Maui to Wai‘anae and all of the Pacific.  The industrial park is proposed for construction on the shoulder of Maui’s profile in the Wai‘anae mountain range.

Professor Jonathan Deenik, Gary Enos, and Walterbea Aldeguar demonstrated how this land is good for farming and bad for urbanization.  The developer’s attorney actually tried again with that giant orange bucket of dirt.  But it didn’t work.  They all agreed, yes, even with rocks like that, this land can grow food — good food!

And Aunties Alice Greenwood, Lori Nordlum and Elizabeth Stack offered the Commission a unique perspective into the history of this land and this community with their stories about Hakimo Road, the old railroad that would have to be moved to make way for the industrial park, and farming in their backyards.

It was a great showing for Wai‘anae!  Eo Wai‘anae!!

The next hearing is tentatively scheduled for February 2nd, 9 am at 235 S. Beretania St., 4th Floor. This should be an exciting hearing.  We hope to finally hear the much-anticipated testimony of Hanalei Aipoalani, the author of the Cultural Impact Assessment for this project.  Unfortunately, he has not been available to testify at previous hearings.  We may also hear again from Project Manager for this proposal, Arick Yanagihara, and for the first time from their consultant, Aunty Roberta Ulu Searle.

The Land Use Commission is expected to make a decision in this case in the Spring.

Relatedly, the City’s Planning Commission is expected to hear public testimony on the Wai‘anae Sustainable Communities Plan on February 16, 2011 in Kapolei. A purple industrial spot was inserted on the land use map in this plan specifically to allow for Tropic Land’s industrial park, even though there was never community consensus for the project.  People concerned about the loss of agricultural lands in Wai‘anae should attend the Planning Commission’s hearing on the Wai‘anae Sustainable Communities Plan — because if approved, this purple spot would be on the community’s plan for a very long time, whether or not Tropic Land is granted permission to build.

Read more:

Community comes to the defense of Lualualei Valley’s ag land,” The Hawaii Independent, January 11, 2010.

 

From Marti:

KAHEA joined a coalition of environmental, conservation, and ocean user groups in appealing the decision of the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting to allow Kyo-Ya, the owner of the Moana Surfrider Hotel, to build a massive luxury hotel on the beach at Waikiki.

Kyo-ya proposes to knock down the 8-story building (that should not be built there) and build a new huge 26-story, surfboard-shaped, luxury hotel and condo structure right next to the historic Moana Banyan Tree Court and the Kuhio Beach Park (the only public park on Waikiki beach).

Such a proposal is not allowed by the many laws passed over the years to protect Oahu’s shorelines, especially Waikiki Beach.  Despite these protections, the City approved Kyo-ya’s proposal.

Allowing this construction project is such a bad idea, in so many ways:
- it will increase the pressure to use this beach while undermining the overall experience of the beach;
- it will mean a taller skyline and even more seawalls;
- it will make suffering sea level rise that much more painful;
- it will create housing for the absurdly wealthy while adding to the construction waste landfilled in Native Hawaiian communities;
- it won’t create any longterm jobs, but it will make it even harder to fish, dive, and surf in this area; and
- it will weaken the overall efficacy of the laws we established to protect our best interests because the City felt like exempting the hotel from the no-build zone on Waikiki.

That’s why we are appealing the decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Learn more about this issue:

Coalition fights to keep Waikiki developer Kyo-Ya from bending the rules,” The Hawaii Independent, Jan. 6, 2011.

Appeal filed to the Zoning Board of Appeals, Dec. 28, 2010.

The Surfrider Foundation

From Marti:

Hearings tonight:
1/11 (Tuesday) at Hilo Intermediate 6-9pm
1/12 (Wednesday) at Waimea Elementary and Intermediate 5:30-9pm

This week, the U.S. Army is holding two hearings on its plan to expand operations at Pohakuloa Training Area to include risky high-altitude helicopter training on the sacred slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. If can, please attend a hearing near you, and pass along the word to others!

This type of high-altitude military training exercise caused a crash in the Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve in 2003, where an irreplaceable cultural and natural area was damaged.

So far, the U.S. Army has done very little study on how these activities will impact irreplacable cultural and natural resources, endangered species, access, cultural practice, or hiking/recreation on the slopes of Mauna Kea.

You can find more details and talking points below. Please let the Army know that Hawai`i demands better for our sacred mountains.

Mahalo nui,
Marti

—————-

Proposed Action: High-elevation, high-risk helicopter training exercises in the protected forest reserves of Mauna Kea

- The proposed project area encompasses the Kīpuka ‘Āinahou Nene Wildlife Sanctuary, Palila bird critical habitat, a Native bird flight corridor, game management areas, as well as the habitat for twenty-one plant, thirteen insect, and ten bird and mammal species under state and/ or federal protection.

- Similar attack helicopter training exercises in Hawai`i have resulted in numerous crashes, injuries and fatalities. In 2009, the CAB lost two pilots when their Kiowa Warrior helicopters took a “hard landing” and crashed in flames near Schofield Barracks. Two other army aviators died when their Cobra helicopter malfunctioned over Schofield in 1996.  Six soldiers (4 of whom were from the CAB) were killed and 11 injured when two Black Hawk helicopters collided during a night training exercise over Kahuku in 2001.

Talking Points:

- Environmental Assessment is Inadequate: The Army’s Environmental Assessment is not forthcoming about the threats expanded military exercises on Mauna Kea pose to Native Hawaiian rights, fragile ecosystems, nor to other recreational uses of the area. Nor does it detail mechanisms whereby the Army can be held accountable.

- Require an Environmental Impact Statement: The Army must complete a full environmental impact statement — not the minimal environmental assessment conducted so far — on all of the Army training at PTA.  This EIS must include a cumulative impact assessment of all land uses threatening Mauna Kea (like the new giant telescope proposal).  The EA fails to adequately analyze: (1) noise impacts, (2) risks to recreational users, (3) threats to protected and endangered species in the project area.

- Require a Cultural Impact Assessment: This EIS should also satisfy Hawaii’s state environmental reporting requirement for a cultural impact assessment. The Army’s EA notes some historic properties of cultural significance in the landing zones.  Instead of studying these areas more closely, the Army’s EA relies on the 2009 University of Hawaii Comprehensive Management Plan.

- Mitigate Accidents:  This type of high-risk trainings have been linked to many accidents.  In 2003, the exact same kind of training resulted in a helicopter crash in the Mauna Kea Ice Age NARS.

As people who love and care for our beloved Mauna Kea, your testimony can help to protect this area from the harms of these dangerous military exercises.  Please attend these important hearings and spread the word!

From our legal-intern Bianca Isaki:

Aloha kakou,

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation of Hawaiÿi (NHLC) has filed a legal action on behalf of Kilakila `O Haleakalä, a Native Hawaiian community organized toward the protection of the sacred summit of Haleakalä on Maui, against the University of Hawaiÿi (UH) and the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).  On December 1, 2010, a DLNR Board approved a management plan and a conservation district use application for the construction and operation of an Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) on the Haleakalä summit. The National Science Foundation has pledged $20 million of the $298 million price tag for the ATST, which is supposed to be running by 2017.

Yet, the plans for the solar telescope are riddled with contradictions. The UH management plan asserts that its Haleakalä project will have “no significant impact” at the same time that its conservation district use application describes ATST’s adverse impacts on cultural and visual resources that “no mitigation would adequately reduce.”

Many questions also surround the Board’s approval. The ATST project fails the Board’s own guidelines for conservation district use, yet the permit was granted without even a public hearing. The Board has an established practice of holding contested case hearings when groups with standing, like Kilakila `O Haleakalä, request them. So, why was their request denied when they have clear standing as a community stakeholder in a decision that will significantly impact them and the public at large? Although ATST supporters have enlisted a number of Native Hawaiians in a working group committee to “make sure it [the ATST] has minimal impact,” the project’s consideration of Native Hawaiian rights seems dubious in light of the ways that Kilakila `O Haleakalä has been shut out from substantive aspects of the process.

NHLC attorneys raise these questions as well as the most glaringly obvious one, why is a telescope being installed (and its ancillary buildings, parking lots, wastewater treatment facilities, electric generators and transformers) in a “conservation district”? According to the UH and a federal assessment, installing the ATST is predicted to adversely impact natural resources; so, why is the project moving forward?

The Kilakila `O Haleakalä pleading asks the 1st District Court to require that a full Environmental Impact Statement be done for activities proposed on the Haleakalä summit, to void the Board’s approvals of the UH’s Environmental Assessment, Management Plan, and Conservation District Use Application, grant a contested case hearing, and to declare the ATST project an “industrial complex” that is inconsistent with conservation land use.

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