Tags Archives: Politics » Bills & laws

Visit the global Politics » Bills & laws archives for posts from all DGR sites.

Pesticides in paradise: how do we fight back?

The problem of pesticides

The islands of Hawai’i, especially Kauai, are frequently described as “ground zero” for GMOs. As an unwilling host to parasitic chemical agriculture, the land is bombarded with pesticides and chemicals at concentrations unseen in most other places; the test and seed crops grown by agribusiness can be dosed at much higher levels than crops meant to be eaten. The effects on the aina and its people are predictable: sterilization of the soil, massive pollution of the waters, and widespread negative impacts on human health. Though much of this harm is inherent to agriculture, even organic agriculture, the severity is drastically worse in these modern operations.

Indirect action

Legal response

Residents on Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island responded by passing laws reducing the harm the chemical companies are allowed to inflict on us, but this has two big drawbacks:

  1. It operates from a framework of limiting, but still permitting, the companies to poison and destroy life, rather than establishing a normative expectation of healthy landbases and sustainable operations, with all actions evaluated against that.
  2. It doesn’t proactively address the constitutional structure in place in the US, deliberately set up to facilitate corporate extraction of resources. Under the hierarchy of preemption, local municipalities are explicitly denied the power to enforce protections stricter than those allowed by the state and federal governments. Unsurprisingly, agribusiness immediately used the court system to strike down most of the restrictions fought for and won by the people.

Symbolic response

Photo: Pasha Yushin | OrganicHawaii.org

Photo: Pasha Yushin | OrganicHawaii.org

The response by the people in early August was the “Aloha Aina Unity March” through the streets of Honolulu to protest the diverse manifestations of civilization in the islands, including pesticides, the TMT construction project, lack of home rule, and militarization. Though it roused an impressive turnout of 10,000, this sort of symbolic protest is unlikely to be effective without organization into a credible threat to those in power. Simply asking them nicely to do the right thing won’t get us anywhere.

Direct confrontation

CELDF

A more strategic approach via the legal system is offered by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). They help localities draft bills declaring and enforcing the rights of communities and of nature against corporations. Their tactics expect and leverage legal challenges to the passage of such bills, using any pushback to highlight the undemocratic nature of our system, galvanizing and radicalizing further opposition. A CELDF representative visited multiple islands in 2013, presenting their strategy and offering assistance if a group on the ground wanted to put forward a bill or initiative. That remains as a promising possibility if anyone wants to organize towards it.

Deep Green Resistance

transmission-sabotage
Another approach is that advocated by Deep Green Resistance: trace all these problems back to the root problem of civilization, especially industrial civilization. While strengthening local communities and rebuilding sustainable practices, work to end the ability of the rich to steal from the poor, and of the powerful to destroy the planet.

Given the small number of people willing to question civilization, let alone confront it, and given the desperately short timeline we face before the planet is pushed to irreversible and catastrophic collapse of its life support systems, DGR believes it necessary for some people to carry out direct attacks on critical infrastructure. By disrupting the underpinnings of systems of control, including communications, energy transportation, and electrical distribution, hypothetical underground groups would directly erode the power of those working against life, and make them more likely to concede to demands by the more “reasonable” of us in aboveground groups.

It’s uncomfortable, and even scary to contemplate life without the conveniences of civilization to which we’ve grown accustomed, but we should keep in mind:

  • These conveniences come with costs usually unseen until we actively investigate: exploitation and murder of life here and abroad, human and non-human, in the present and in generations to come. Nothing civilization can give us is worth the death of the planet.
  • Hawaiians lived good lives here for centuries before European contact. Depending on what you most value ― family, intimate connection to community & aina, a clean environment, and meaningful work; or short-lived labor-saving devices, fleeting visits to places far and wide, and flashy gadgets ― one could argue Hawaiians lived much better lives than we do now.

Resources

For more on the issues in Hawai’i around industrial agriculture, chemical company influence, and GMOs, see:

For more on potential big-picture solutions, see:

Get involved:

  • Subscribe to this blog by entering your email at the top right of this page.
  • Share this article and other DGR pieces you find interesting with family and friends.
  • Fill out our Volunteer for DGR form or our Join DGR form.
  • If you have questions specific to DGR Hawai’i, email hawaii@deepgreenresistance.org

Action alert: geothermal issues this week

Puna Pono Alliance (PPA) just sent a newsletter, reposted below, calling for immediate community support and testimony on two issues this week. Please share this information, and testify in person or submit testimony by noon of the day prior to each meeting. Even if you read this too late to testify, it’s worth reading to stay up to date on what’s going on.

Email counciltestimony@hawaiicounty.gov (one email for each agenda item) with your testimony, which could be as simple as “I support the Puna Pono Alliance position on Bill 77.” and “I support the Puna Pono Alliance position on Resolution 249-15.”

Bill 77

Committee hearing Tuesday 8/18/15 at 1:00pm
Submitted testimony due Monday by noon

Bill 77 would take the money we fought for to help relocate people impacted by geothermal and instead use it for typical political purposes at the impacted residents expense. IMO this is another shameless attempt to take the few crumbs given to the community forced to live with these toxic power plants for political gain by Council member Illigan.

From PPA’s perspective, the problem with Bill 77 is that it further dilutes the fund, the primary purpose of which is (or should be) the relocation of residents adversely impacted by proximity to PGV. What Bill 77 does is add “staff expenses related to the program, including salaries for staff or contractors, and related fringe benefits.” Thus, the funds could be used to pay anyone for any “public purpose” expenditure in Lower Puna. Unfortunately, this has turned this into a political “slush fund,” particularly after the Planning Director suspended its use for its initial intended purpose. Instead please tell the council to restore the geothermal relocation fund to its original purpose of helping the people forced to live with these dangerous industrial developments.

  • In January 2015, the Planning Department suspended purchase of homes using funds from the geothermal relocation and community benefits fund.
  • The reason for suspension of the program was uncertainty about lava flow then in progress. Some scenarios would have prevented operation of PGV and would have resulted in no further geothermal royalties.
  • The county bought five homes late last year, the first purchases since the program was flooded with applications in 2012.
  • The Geothermal Royalty Fund had $2.7 million as of Jan. 8, with another $1 million in reserve. That would be enough funding to continue with purchases of homes, but not enough for all remaining 30 homes requested.
  • PPA Position: Since the program is insufficiently funded, no funds should be taken from the geothermal relocation and community benefits fund until a formal review of the program is completed and new direction is developed.
  • PPA Position: Under no circumstances should the fund be used to supplement the county budget for required county functions. Rather the fund should be used for relocation and community benefits. As to benefits, the priority should be to provide benefits first to those most impacted by geothermal.

Resolution 249-15

Council meeting Wednesday 8/19/15 at 9:00am
Submitted testimony due Tuesday by noon

Resolution 249-15 is also problematic and I never cease to be amazed by elected officials like Illigan who appear so cold and out of touch with the families that live near these plants.

Two of the WHEREAS statements Mr. Illigan wants passed are patently false (lies)

  • “…..production of energy through such development has continued to occur safely, with zero emissions, and has assisted in lowering the cost of energy to consumers”
  • “….drilling operations by PGV (have) been conducted in a manner consistent with best available control technology….”

We agree that Hawaii County needs a resolution addressing geothermal energy. The county’s geothermal resource permit (GRP) is out of date and does not conform to Clean Air Act Title V permit requirements. The county resolution should be revised to strike the false statements and instead focus the Planning Director on re-doing the GRP, to include conformance with pertinent laws and regulations.

  • The General Plan is an appropriate vehicle to state the County’s intent about future geothermal development
  • Some discussion of geothermal development have included use of geothermal power for local industrial and farming use, without connection to the utility
  • Geothermal plants are major industrial plants and should be built only after as much consideration as a pig farm or school
  • In the County of Hawaii, residential areas are often zoned for agriculture
  • Many of the WHEREAS statements are incorrect. For example, the resolution says, “WHEREAS, the development of geothermal energy to help meet the energy needs of the County of Hawai‘i has a promising future, as the production of energy through such development has continued to occur safely, with near zero emissions, and has assisted in lowering the cost of energy to consumers. This statement is in error in that:
    • Many believe centralized power sources on the grid, regardless of how the power is generated, are wrong headed. See Thomas Lee Travis testimony to the PUC regarding the NEXTERA acquisition of HECO companies. Therefore, the promise of geothermal energy is in doubt.
    • On August 7, 2014 PGV had a serious release that made over one hundred people sick, knocked out over ten people, and may have contributed to the death of two people. It is expected that a major tort suit will result.
    • One quarter of the power on the island is produced by geothermal, yet Hawaii has the highest utility rates in the Nation excluding Lanai and Molokai
  • As recently as 2012 PGV drilled without using best available control technology. Only because of pressure from the County did they do better in 2015. No new regulatory issues were involved beyond the threat that the County’s nighttime drilling ban might apply.

PPA Position: Before approval this resolution must be modified as follows:

  • The wording in the WHEREAS section must be modified to remove the errors.
  • The wording of the recommendations should be modified to read as follows.
    1. The appropriate Hawai’i County Planning Commission should have the authority to regulate future geothermal development in Hawai’i County, particularly as concerns land use and zoning decisions.
    2. Development of geothermal resources should mitigate impacts to people by the use of best available control technology.
    3. Additional development of geothermal resources not approved by Geothermal Resource Permit 2 should not be built within three miles of zoned residential areas. Placement of a geothermal plant should be approved only after considering environmental, economic, community, cultural, and social issues.

Finally, County Council members would be well advised to seek input from the affected community before offering documents such as these for consideration.

Action alert: stop county spraying of pesticides

From GMO Free Hawai’i:

Action Alert

On Tuesday August 4th, Hawai`i County Council Member Margaret Wille will introduce Bill 71, for the county to stop spraying herbicides on county property, including roads, parks, etc that the county maintains.

Please send testimony now to counciltestimony@hawaiicounty.gov ― even a quick email as simple as “I support Bill 71” ― to be received by Monday at 2:30 PM. Ask your friends, ohana, & visitors to send testimony too.

It’s probably most valuable to submit testimony, but you can also sign a petition

If you want to email individual councilors, their addresses are:

dru.kanuha@hawaiicounty.gov
margaret.wille@hawaiicounty.gov
karen.eoff@hawaiicounty.gov
maile.david@hawaiicounty.gov
greggor.ilagan@hawaiicounty.gov
valerie.poindexter@hawaiicounty.gov
aaron.chung@hawaiicounty.gov
daniel.paleka@hawaiicounty.gov
dennis.onishi@hawaiicounty.gov

You can also submit testimony in person at the Hilo Council Chambers (25 Aupuni Street) or via videoconference:

  • Waimea Council Office
  • Video Conferencing Site in the old Bank of Hawai’i Building in Kapa’au
  • Kona Council Chambers – West Hawai‘i Civic Center
  • Pahoa Neighborhood Facility
  • the Hawaiian Ocean View Estates Community Center

Background info from Margaret Wille

Bill 71 prohibits toxic herbicides on all County owned or maintained property.

At the Council’s May 2015 hearings for our County 2015 -2016 budget, the line items of greatest concern were that “Roundup” spray line items in the several department budgets, including those of Parks & Recreation and Public Works. At that time I promised to draft a bill to address the community’s concerns.

As drafted this bill would prohibit the use of toxic herbicides, such as those containing glyphosate (Monsanto’s “Roundup”), on County owned and maintained parks, roadways, waterways, and other county spaces.

The World Health Organization and other health organizations have recently brought forth more evidence concerning the negative effects of glyphosate on human health and to the environment. In my opinion it would be irresponsible to continue to ignore the cries of so many to find alternative means to deal with weeds that are less harmful to our people. To instead simply do another study or to only undertake some pilot project would be doing next to nothing. The proposed bill has an effective date of July 1, 2016 to allow time for the County to transition to alternative means of weed control.

Help stop this from continuing

Geothermal update – actions needed

Some news and action items regarding the geothermal drilling:

Night Drilling

Greggor Ilagan has actually been convinced to draft and introduce two resolutions:

Please email or call the Hawai’i County council members to ask them to support both resolutions:

valerie.poindexter@hawaiicounty.gov, aaron.chung@hawaiicounty.gov,
dennis.onishi@hawaiicounty.gov, greggor.ilagan@hawaiicounty.gov,
daniel.paleka@hawaiicounty.gov, maile.david@hawaiicounty.gov,
dru.kanuha@hawaiicounty.gov, karen.eoff@hawaiicounty.gov,
margaret.wille@hawaiicounty.gov

You can also contact Gov. David Ige, contact form or 808-586-0034, and Mayor Billy Kenoi, cohmayor@co.hawaii.hi.us or 808-961-8211.

If you can, please attend the Council meeting in Hilo on Wednesday, February 4 to support the resolutions.

And if you haven’t yet, please sign the petition against PGV night drilling.

Department of Health Hearing

The State DOH has agreed to hold a public hearing for PGV’s Clean Air Permit renewal. The date and location have not been announced yet. We are asking them to hold that hearing in Puna.

What you can do now is e-mail cab@doh.hawaii.gov and/or phone (808) 586-4200 (between 7:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m) to thank them for having a public hearing and ask that it be held in Pahoa.

PGV Public Meeting Thursday

Puna Pono Alliance (PPA) could use support this Thursday if you can make it. PGV will hold a public meeting to answer questions Thursday 1/29/15 at 7:00 pm at the Pahoa Community Center. It would help if we get a lot of people there.

Lower Puna Neighborhood Public Nuisance Watch

PPA has created a google group to help document noise and other impacts of the PGV drilling. To join, send an email to paul@punapono.com from the email address you want to use for the group.

This group is for anyone who thinks they may have negative impacts (for example, noise, dust, vibrations, odors from the drilling or operations) or from anyone who wants to support efforts to encourage the State and County to regulate industrial corporations in residential areas.

Failure of Bill on Sustainable Living

The Hawai’i Sustainable Community Alliance has put a lot of effort over the past few years into drafting, introducing, and lobbying for a bill to “enable innovators and sustainable pioneers to practice and test ways of living that are ecological and sustainable” in Hawaii.

The bill passed through 6 committee hearings, and normally would have proceeded automatically to a final hearing. Senator Malama Solomon, who generally seems opposed to sustainability and supportive of destructive practices like industrial agriculture and geothermal, used her position as Chairperson of the Senate Conference Committee to deny the bill a hearing.

This, of course, is an all too typical expression of how systems of power operate. If you don’t play by their rules, they imprison you. If you play by their rules, you generally have no chance of winning, because they wrote the rules to keep themselves in power. And if you play by their rules and start to win, they change the rules.

If we, as advocates of sustainable living and social justice, are serious about winning, we need to find ways out of this triple bind. The Deep Green Resistance strategy of Decisive Ecological Warfare is an excellent start, though we’ll have to figure out how to effectively apply it the particular situation in and needs of Hawaii.

Support bill to limit geothermal – deadline April 26

Passing this on from Puna Pono Alliance:

This year’s geothermal legislation needs your help now, one last time. Please send an email (see below) and ask your friends to do the same. The immediate need for these emails ends this week (please do not send emails after April 26th.)

Representatives Chris Lee and Cindy Evans along with their committees on Energy and Environmental Protection and Water and Land made appropriate changes to Senate Bill 2663 (now referred to as SB2663 SD2 HD2.) They not only cleaned up the Senate version of the bill, but they also provided for contested cases in geothermal permitting and a ban on fracking (with a sunset of 10 years.) Representative Sylvia Luke and her Finance committee then also approved the favorably amended legislation.

On Friday, April 25th, SB2663 SD2 HD2 will be considered by a conference committee (where Chris, Cindy, Sylvia and Cynthia Thielen will confer with Senators Malama Solomon, Donovan Dela Cruz, Mike Gabbard, Brickwood Galuteria and Sam Slom for decision making only, with no public testimony.) Puna Pono Alliance is supporting a campaign of email messages to the conference committee members. Here is a sample email message:

__________________________________________________

Thank you for your concern and support for a community that lives near Hawai`i’s only geothermal development. We appreciate how the House has provided for contested cases in geothermal permitting and a ban on fracking as amendments to Senate Bill 2663. These House changes, along with other improvements in language and intent, make Senate Bill 2663 an initiative I support. As members of the House and Senate confer on the bill, I ask that you please keep contested cases and the ban on fracking as essential elements of the bill. Without both of these elements, I feel that the bill would not be worthwhile.

__________________________________________________

Please freely edit the above draft text for your email. Here are the email addresses of the conference committee members::

repclee@capitol.hawaii.gov
repevans@capitol.hawaii.gov
repluke@capitol.hawaii.gov
repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov
senslom@capitol.hawaii.gov
sendelacruz@capitol.hawaii.gov
sengabbard@capitol.hawaii.gov
sengaluteria@capitol.hawaii.gov
sensolomon@capitol.hawaii.gov