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Supreme Court Issues Decision in `Aina Le`a Case
The Hawai`i Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited decision in the `Aina Le`a case. For those needing a reminder, that case involves the development of about 1,000 acres of land near Waikoloa, in the Big Island district of South Kohala.
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SUMMARY OF CURRENT ISSUES
The Heat is On
For decades, climate change was something whose effects most of us, to the extent we gave it any thought at all, thought would be visited on their grandkids or, maybe, our kids. Few of us imagined we’d have to deal with it in our own lifetimes.
And in that, we were oh so wrong.
As we note in this month’s cover story, the coral bleaching events seen earlier this year in waters around Hawai`i are going to be increasingly frequent and ever more devastating. Globally, corals will have few refuges. Even areas that are now pristine or close to it will suffer as ocean water turns to acid and surface temperatures soar.
It thus becomes all the more important to defend the health of the reef wherever and whenever we can. In this regard, and for other reasons as well, the state’s new rules to protect herbivorous fish in waters around Maui, discussed in the lead item in this month’s “Board Talk” column, are a great step forward.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
The number of ways to help the Hawaiian Electric utilities reliably and cost-effectively incorporate more renewable energy into their grids seems to be growing by the minute, as do the options for those wanting to leave the grid altogether.
But the exact path taken depends largely on what the state Public Utilities Commission decides regarding the utilities’ own proposals. Already those have been criticized as delaying the integration of renewable sources into their grids and penalizing customers who already have photovoltaic systems.
Will the PUC let Hawaiian Electric continue to dominate Hawai`i’s energy landscape or open the door to other alternatives?
At this point, it’s anyone’s guess.
Also in this issue:
When it comes to the arcana of American jurisprudence, the cases alleging Central American worker injury as a result of DBCP exposure provide a good introduction. There you will find such unusual tactics as impleadings, claims of forum non conveniens and even the rarely seen writ of coram nobis.
What you won’t see is much, if any, argument on the merits of the workers’ claims.
One case still being litigated in Hawai`i courts offers residents here a front-row seat into the legal tactics that have been employed to prevent the workers from having their day in court. Whether it meets the same fate as dozens of others will depend on the outcome of the state Supreme Court hearing this month.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
New & Noteworthy: Kealakehe, Little Fire Ant
Wespac to Discipline Itself Over Turtle Delisting Petition
Storm Puts To Rest Debate Over Threat of Albizia
Hawai`i Plaintiffs Await Action On Claim of Injury From DBCP
30 Years of Litigation, But Only One Jury Trial
Board Talk: Sex Trafficking Victims May Use Old School; TMT Appeal Denied; North Shore Seawalls; and More
Old Agreements Confound Ban On Hotel Use of Waikiki Beach
Best available science – science uncorrupted by overweening economic objectives or political interests. That’s the kind of science that is supposed to guide the nation’s fishery management councils as they advise the federal agencies that ultimately decide such important issues as catch limits or allowable takes of rare and endangered species.
Yet, as our reports on the latest meeting of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council document, that’s not happening. Science has taken a back seat and economics is the driver.
Also in this issue:
A review of Hawai`i mariculture operations, past and future: In this article, we look at projects proposed by Blue Ocean Mariculture, Randy Cates, and Kampachi Farms.
Vitousek Conference highlights: Editor Patricia Tummons reports on the latest research on montane soils, dryland agriculture, and the wekiu bug presented at the annual gathering of environmental researchers in Hawai`i.
Board Talk: Our regular wrap-up of actions of the Board of Land and Natural Resources includes a look at recent transfers of land to the state Agribusiness Development Corporation, the new Thirty-Meter-Telescope sublease for Mauna Kea, and the new crop of Land Board members.
In this issue – the first in our 25th year of publishing! – we review cases of recent environmental litigation. Our cover story discusses the critically important decision of a federal judge in a case involving the discharge of wastewater into injection wells near the Lahaina coast, while a sidebar looks at the potential consequences this could have for Hawai`i County.
Other litigation reviewed in this article concerns:
Also in this issue, we report on the latest efforts of Big Island developer Scott Watson to win approvals for his “Pepe`ekeo Palace” and wrap up the issue with our regular “Board Talk” column.
Legislature Balks at Biosecurity Bills,
But Boosts Funds for Invasive Species
Foreign arrivals are up!
The same phrase that gladdens the heart of the visitor industry arouses dread in the hearts of the officials charged with keeping Hawai`i’s environment and important crops safe from marauding invaders. Consider:
The coconut rhinocerous beetle. This native of India has devastated palm trees across the South Pacific and, with its arrival in Hawai`i last winter, could do the same here. Federal and state agencies, as well as the Army, are sparing no expense to keep it from gaining a foothold here.
The macadamia felted coccid: No one knows exactly how it got here from its home in Queensland, but it is now damaging even the most mature, established macadamia orchards on the Big Island.
Little fire ant, coqui frog, albizia trees – the list goes on and on.
The destructive critters and little-shop-of-horror plants seem to arrive as fast as the airlines and ships can bring them in. The state’s quarantine defenses are stuck, meanwhile, with a budget that would have been inadequate in the horse-and-buggy era.
As our cover article shows, the Legislature’s $5 million appropriation to address invasive species is better than it’s been in years’ past, but – in the face of actual threats – not nearly sufficient.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
Hawai`i Longliners’ Appetite for Bigeye
Only Grows as International Quotas Shrink
Greed is good. That, anyway, was the mantra of the Wall Street anti-hero.
But it serves just as well the owners of the Hawai`i longline fishing fleet and their personal civil servant, Kitty Simonds. Not content to accept the miserly (in their eyes) quota of Western Pacific bigeye tuna allocated to them, they have won an amendment to fishing rules that lets them almost double their annual haul. And were that not enough, they are setting their sights now on bigeye in the Eastern Pacific where stocks, though relatively healthy now, cannot take any further fishing pressure.
Simonds, as executive director of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, has stepped-up efforts to turn this federally funded agency into a private club and to treat observers as trespassers. Those efforts have reached a point where her dismissal is more than warranted and this months editorial calls for just that. If secret meetings and destruction of government records are not enough to get her handlers at the National Marine Fisheries’ Service to take action, then what the heck will it take to set them in motion?
But there’s more than fish in this month’s wrapper. Our “Board Talk” column looks at a wide range of issues tackled by the Board of Land and Natural Resources in recent weeks. And our write-up of Carla D’Antonio’s recent work should give folks who want to understand the mechanisms of ecosystem invasions a lot to think about comments (0 views) |
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In June 2013, Environment Hawai'i, a monthly newsletter, completed 23 years of continuous publication. We thank all of our loyal subscribers for your contributions to this astonishing run. Mahalo nui loa.
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Patricia Tummons, Editor
Teresa Dawson, Staff Writer
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