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Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

From Marti:

The first preliminary hearing in the whole purple spot saga was held on May 20th before the Land Use Commission.  The Land Use Commission met to decide whether the Environmental Impact Statement is complete for Tropic Land’s proposal to turn 96 acres of fertile farm land into an industrial park at the back of Lualualei Valley (the industrial park is the purple spot).

All six commissioners present agreed that the EIS is complete, but some of them made clear that based on the public testimony presented they had serious concerns about the proposal itself.

Testimony presented to the Land Use Commission alleged that Tropic Land, LLC  is operating an unauthorized truck baseyard on agricultural land and has illegally mined pohaku from a known ancient Hawaiian cultural site.

“At least 85% of the farmland has been covered with asphalt,” said one eye-witness.

Activities like storage of trucks, and vehicle repair and maintenance are not allowed on land zoned for agricultural use.  Waianae Coast residents said they filed complaints with both the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Enforcement Branch and the City and County of Honolulu.

Tropic Land, LLC has been cited on at least three other occasions for engaging in activities on the Lualualei property that were not consistent with its agricultural classification.

Pictures also documented the mining of stones on preservation land adjoining the Tropic Land parcel.  Cultural surveys conducted on the parcel in the 1990’s confirm that this stones comprised a substantial, culturally significant platform.

A Nanakuli resident testified that ¾ of the substantial stone platform had been removed and some of the stones were used to make a sacred place to reinter Hawaiian burials exhumed by Wal-Mart on Keaaumoku Street.  Tropic Land, LLC did not have authorization from the State Historic Preservation Division to remove stones from this site.

Tropic Land, LLC was before the Land Use Commission to change the classification of their Lualualei Valley property from agricultural to urban, in order to allow them to construct an industrial park on the property.

The Land Use Commission accepted Tropic Land, LLC’s final environmental impact statement for the industrial park proposal, but not before voicing concerns about the testimony presented by the public.

Holding up a picture of trucks parked behind a fence on the Tropic Land parcel, Commissioner Contrades  asked Tropic Land’s attorney William Yuen, “is this correct?”  Mr. Yuen said he had not seen the photograph, but that the property is not paved and trucks are not being stored on the property at this time.

Commissioner Wong asked Yuen a series of questions to clarify that acceptance of the EIS did not in anyway demonstrate support for or ensure approval of the project.

Commissioner Teves requested that the Commission perform a site visit to “see the so-called commercial use of the property in its present form, to see if it is true or not.”

What does this mean for the future of the purple spot?

It means that the formal one-year process to decide whether to rezone this part of Lualualei Valley from ag to urban has started.  The hearing on the actual rezoning decision will be held on September 9, 2010 at 9:30 before the Land Use Commission.

It also means that the developer will have a very hard time arguing that this industrial park proposal is consistent with Waianae’s Community Sustainability Plan, since the current has no purple spot allowing for industrialization of this area… and the amended one with the purple spot has not been adopted by the Honolulu City Council.  In fact, staff at the city said they don’t expect the Waianae Community Sustainability Plan to come before the Council the Fall of 2010.

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Action Alert! Today, despite overwhelming community support for protecting local farm lands, developers are pushing Honolulu Councilmembers to approve a “purple spot,” a new industrial zone in the middle of green Lualualei Valley on the Waianae Coast. This industrial zone would urbanize precious agricultural and preservation lands, paving the way for industrial parks, landfills, and other industrial land uses.

The plan must be approved by the Council for the City and County of Honolulu before it becomes law. We are asking Councilmembers to reject the “purple spot” and protect agricultural lands throughout the Wai‘anae Coast.

Become a spot remover! You can sign this petition to tell Councilmembers NO to more loss of precious rural agricultural lands! And NO to government that serves wealthy developers over the interests of local families and communities!

You can learn more and sign the petition at: http://tiny.cc/purplespotpetition
View, download and share the informational fact sheet here: http://tiny.cc/purplespotinfo

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From Alana:

From “Hawai’i has a lot to gain from open ocean aquaculture” in today’s Honolulu Advertiser:

Just as we need to be off imported oil, we need to be off imported seafood. This opportunity can be an economic engine for Hawai’i, and hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.Let’s not stand in our own way. There’s  a lot to gain for everyone.

Absolutely.

The amount of seafood that we import is really astounding. It is upsetting, though, that in the wake of a very large aquaculture operation, which would export up to 90% of its ahi products, statements like the above, are used to defend it.

The article, by Jay Fidell of ThinkTech Hawaii, goes on to say that:

There are anti-aquaculture groups who don’t want “greedy” corportations to make a profit and export aquaculture products to outside markets. Those groups don’t acknowledge andvancements in the technology, and regularly diseminate disinformation about the industry. They’ve been pulling out all the stops, apparently bent on wiping out open ocean aquaculture in Hawai’i. Theyre’re completely wrong. Without open ocean aquaculture, Hawai’i would have to depend on foreign unregulated producers and overfished wild stocks. Those options are not nearly as secure or sustainable as the development of homegrown open ocean aquaculture.

I do not think of myself as entirely “anti-aquaculture”, I just think it should be done right. My cause is not to “diseminate disinformation”, it is to let people know that there are serious implications that multiple aquaculture ventures could have on Hawaii’s marine ecosystems. It is also to open peoples eyes to aquaculture in other parts of the world, and to how it has affected those places. This article makes it seem like there is some hidden agenda beneath fighting these giant open ocean aquaculture projects. But really, I have nothing to gain from this. I have neither read nor heard anything pro-open ocean aquaculture, aside from the people who would benefit direcly from it.

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From Alana:

For the past few weeks there have been numerous articles, editorials, and letters to editors in several local newspapers regarding open ocean aquaculture. A recent editorial in the Honolulu Advertiser states that 

the large size and experimental nature of the [Hawaii Oceanic Tech] project demands that state regulators, and the public, keep a critical eye on the project as it moves forward.

The article goes on to say that the objective of this project is an organic, ecologically sustainable fish. 

PROBLEM #1: Organic. The problem with this is that there are no organic standards for fish farming. It would also be especially hard to develop one for open ocean aquaculture, because the cages are not closed systems. Anything that is in the water will wind up in the bodies of the fish.

Hawaii Oceanic Tech also hopes to use “organic feed” for their fish. The main ingredient in HOTIs feed will be “sardines from sustainable fish stocks”. But, this goes back to what I said above: there are no organic standards for fish, so any claims of their feed being so are false.

PROBLEM #2: Ecologically Sustainable. This is a tricky one, just because it is so undefined. What is ecologically sustainable? Everything humanity does will impact the environment in some way. Perhaps ecologically sustainable means there is a balance of pros and cons for the environment. But what are the pros in this situation? Proponents of aquaculture say that farming fish gives wild populations a chance to repopulate, but this is easily proven wrong by the environmental havoc  that fish farming has caused in British Columbia and other places where fish farms are popular. Many Canadians are embarrassed that their government has let the caged farming industry expand because of its serious impacts. 

More information about ocean fish farming’s impact on wild stocks can be found here: Science Daily: Ocean Fish Farming Harms Wild Fish, Study Says (Neil Frazer-UH)

Keep your eyes open for more aquaculture in the news in the coming weeks.

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From Alana:

Entitled Aquaculture in Hawaii: Economic Advantage or Source of Sustainability, the Hawaii Venture Capitalist Association’s recent meeting addressed the benefits of many types of aquaculture in Hawaii. I think the presentation did a good job of explaining how aquaculture could be in Hawaii, in its most ideal form.

One of the first things mentioned was that aquaculture could help restore wild fish populations that are headed towards extinction. They failed to address, however, how that would happen. It is accepted in the scientific community that fish raised in fish farms are much less fit to live in the wild. Another weak point in the presentation was explaining how the current and future open ocean aquaculture ventures would increase self-sufficiency in Hawaii by reducing imports. Up to 90% of the future ventures’ fish would be exported, while the 10% allotted for Hawaii would go to restaurants like Alan Wong’s and Mariposa, restaurants that most people here can’t afford to go to on a regular basis.

There were also two slides that were completely skipped, clearly regarding genetics. I understand that this may have been due to time constraints, but the public deserves to know not only about possible economic gains from aquaculture, but also the genetic and environmental consequences of it.

A good way to sum up the outlook of the meeting is with the quote

“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly”

this quote was used during the presentation, but who is to say what is worth doing and what isn’t? Is anything worth doing badly anymore? A  commenter on one of m previous posts claimed that “fish poop” produced from aquaculture can curb the effects of climate change by absorbing the CO2 from the atmosphere, and adding it to the ocean. However, as my previous “ocean acidification” post details, an increase nutrient-rich fish effluent leads to the acidification of the ocean, thereby further risking the health of many ecosystems.

Once again, I urge everyone to learn more about what is going on in terms of aquaculture in Hawaii.

Here are some links to more info on open ocean aquaculture. It is our responsibility to find out as much as we can while we can.

Food and Water Watch: Fish Farms

Kona Blue Fish Farm

Hawaii Oceanic Technology, Inc

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From:  Andrea

Just last month, Act 155 was passed in the Hawaii Legislature, amending Hawaii’s renewable energy law.

One of the highlights of this amendment was the strengthening of Hawaii’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (often abbreviated as RPS).  These standards are binding for electric utility companies, which must satisfy the specified percentage of their net electricity sales with electricity generated from renewable energy sources by the specified date.

Now, Hawaii’s Renewable Portfolio Standards are as follows:  10% by 2010; 15% by 2015; 25% by 2020; and 40% by 2030.  The two standards that Act 155 changed are the two later dates:  the 2020 standard was increased by 5%, and the 2030 standard was a new addition.

This strengthening of Hawaii’s Renewable Portfolio Standards was a wise move by the Hawaii Legislature.  Hawaii should be a predominant leader in the renewable energy realm, considering that it is the most oil dependent state with over 90% of its energy needs met by imported fossil fuels– a doubly detrimental impact with carbon footprints from long-distance importation and burning.  The context of climate change and sea-level rise heighten Hawaii’s energy vulnerability.

Yet, Hawaii is also ideally situated to move the ball forward with renewable energy due to the high availability of solar, wind, wave, and tidal energy.  Thus, the Legislature’s addition of the long-term standard, 40% renewable-created electricity by 2030, is in line with Hawaii’s position of great need, vulnerability, and opportunism.

However, the short-term standard could be a bit more aggressive.  Although a five-percent increase to 25% by 2020 is an improvement, a few other states have more stringent short-term standards.  For example, California is requiring 20% renewable-created electricity by 2010– double Hawaii’s 2010 standard.  And, Maine has a 2017 standard of 40%, Hawaii’s standard for 13 years later, while New York has a 2013 standard of 24%– 9% greater than Hawaii’s 2015 standard.

Regardless of the precise standards, the definition of “renewable energy” sources must be amended.  While creating more stringent standards in the short-term is ideal, amending the definition of “renewable energy” to only encompass those sources that are truly clean is a must.

As it stands now, the definition of “renewable energy” does not contain any qualifications.  For example, it includes “biofuels.”  Such an unqualified authorization allows utility companies to meet the standard with, say, palm oil, which fits the broad definition of “biofuels.”

What’s the problem with palm oil qualifying as a renewable energy source?  This “biofuel” implicates a significant carbon footprint due to carbon-emitting land change.  After the deforestation, heavy fertilization, and peatland burning required to produce the palm oil, the production of this “biofuel” actually contributes more to global warming, opposed to ameliorating the crisis.

Renewable energy sources and, thus, renewable portfolio standards for utility companies should authorize only clean renewable sources in life-cycle terms.  Renewability should be just one requisite for clean energy sources; the holistic footprint, including emissions, land change, and other environmental impacts, also must be taken into account.

Otherwise, we may simply displace the impact to another medium.  Without amending the law to reflect this crucial qualification, the renewable portfolio standards may end up perpetuating the very problem that they are intended to improve.

Want Hawaii to lead a meaningful renewable energy transition?

Contact your representatives in the State Legislature and voice your opinion!

Here’s contact information for our House representatives:

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/house/members/members.asp

And, here’s contact information for Senate members:

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/senate/members/members.asp

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From Alana:

On Thursday night, a film entitled A Sea Change, was shown at the Bishop Museum. It addressed the much ignored by-product of climate change, ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is, arguably, the most dire consequence of adding ridiculous amounts of carbon dioxide to the air. 

For years, the ocean has been absorbing extra CO2 from the air, a total of 118 billion metric tons of it. Adding 22 billion pounds of CO2 to the ocean each day is severely changing the chemistry of the water. But what is wrong with the pH of the ocean lowering by .1, or .01, or even .001? It may not seem like much to us, but any change affects what all life depends on most: the creatures at the bottom of the ocean food chain, namely pteropods. Pteropods are moth-like, transparent creatures, that seem to fly in the deep ocean. They are the food for a myriad of creatures, which in turn are the food source for hundreds of other creatures, that humans then feed on. Increased amounts of CO2, though, are causing the pteropods’ calciferous shells to disintegrate. This threatens the entire food chain.

Scientists have underestimated the magnitude and haste of climate change. They  assert that we are past the point where we can stop the extinctions that will come with the disappearance of pteropods and coral. This situation is so extreme that within a few centuries humans could be all but extinct as well. As one scientist simply exclaims, “we’re screwed”.

 The thing that disgusts me most about all of this, though, is that we could have solved it by now. It would only cost TWO PERCENT  of our GDP to solve the energy crisis. It can be argued that 2% of GDP is a lot of money, but I think it might be a good asking price for ensuring the continuation of our survival as a species, and the survival of the animals we depend on. To put this in perspective, enough photovoltaic cells could have been built to power the entire United States with only $420 billion–HALF of the Iraq war budget.

A big hurdle that the public has to face is simply realizing how much we rely on the ocean, and that it is in fact possible for us to change something that big. Most people accept the fact that the ice is melting, but continually deny that life is endangered because of human activity. One woman in the film says,

“We are a very visual species. What is below water is invisible to us. What we can’t see, we pollute… because it doesn’t exist to us.”

So what can we do about this? The main thing to do is just analyze your lifestyle and make sure that what you do doesn’t add to this serious problem. Venture capitalists have the choice of going down the alley of exploitation as easily as the alley of sustainability. The government owes it to everyone to do something about this. This type of problem will threaten national security, the world food supply, etc, so when is anyone going to do something about this in terms of strong legislation– or creating an actual plan of action?? Depending on your age, you may not see the effects, but it is real. It is not going away. I know that there will not only be a sea change in my lifetime, but a world of change.sea_change_a

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