Tags Archives: Politics

Reefs At Risk

The state of Hawai’i is set to pass pioneering legislation to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate, chemicals especially dangerous to the health of humans and oceans. This is a small but valuable move towards alleviating the assault on our oceans. We need much more, but we should celebrate even the small victories, using them as motivation to keep aiming higher.

The ban doesn’t take effect until 2021, so if you use sunscreen, please take the time to understand the ingredients. Switch to a product safer to reefs if your sunscreen is harmful, and let the manufacturers know why you’re making the change.

Local filmmakers and activists Malina Fagan and Lynn Pelletier have produced a five minute video explaining the dangers of oxybenzone. View it below, download their reef safe sunscreen guide (PDF), or learn more from their Reefs At Risk website. Please share these resources with anyone concerned about our oceans!

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


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

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.


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:

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  • 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:


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

Testimony needed: don’t appoint developer to control our public lands

We posted a petition in January to oppose appointment of Carleton Ching, a lobbyist for developers, as head of the Department of Land and Resources (DLNR). Your testimony is needed to the State Senate Committee on Water and Land, during or before their hearing March 11, 2015 at 10AM in Room 229 at the State Capitol. Email the committee at WTLtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov or submit testimony online.

The following information is from KAHEA, which with at least 22 other Hawai`i groups opposes the nomination of Carleton Ching as Director of DLNR:

DLNR’s critical mission is to “[e]nhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawai’i nei, and its visitors, in partnership with others from the public and private sectors.” Chronic under-funding of this important department has led to long-term staff shortages. These shortages, along with systemic failures to follow basic legal requirements in past decisions, contributed to multiple, major lawsuits against the department costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

The Director of DLNR chairs the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) and the Commission on Water Resources Management (CWRM), and is the chief historic preservation officer. The Director is responsible for ensuring DLNR follows all public hearing and disclosure requirements and satisfies all constitutional requirements under the public trust doctrine.

“The University of Hawai`i’s proposal to re-lease Mauna Kea summit lands under business as usual terms will soon come before BLNR. Later this year, CWRM will vote on designation of Keauhou aquifer as a groundwater management area, an action which KAHEA supported as prudent safeguards against the volume of water-thirsty development planned for North Kona. In these decisions, and others, we need an informed, experienced decision-maker at the helm.

In recent meetings, Ching failed to identify any vision or plan for DLNR, indicated he did not know what the public trust is, and recited the refrain of “balancing” in reference to competing water users. Hawaii’s water code, he then learned, imposes a hierarchies of best uses of water. Ching served on the Building Industry of America’s board, which sought to undermine the state Historic Preservation Division’s authority over historic properties, a stance that could endangering many Native Hawaiian cultural sites. Ching was president of Land Use Research Foundation (LURF), which lobbied to establish the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC), to weaken environmental impact assessments, and against establishing an Environmental Court.

Again, email the committee at WTLtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov or submit testimony online. It is crucial that they listen to our concerns:

  1. Carleton Ching lacks the knowledge, experience, and community ties necessary to the successful operation of DLNR.
  2. DLNR needs a leader with a deep understanding of the histories and struggles from which Hawaii’s obligation hold natural resources in trust arose, the political courage to enforce this public trust, and the vision to develop a plan to realize these crucial protections.
  3. Carleton Ching is not this leader.

After hearing all the testimony presented, the Committee will vote whether to recommend Mr. Ching be confirmed as Director of DLNR. Then a vote of the entire Senate will be scheduled to consider the Committee’s recommendation and make a final determination. You are encouraged to directly contact your Senator to express your concern about appointing Mr. Ching to DLNR.

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,

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.

Petition: don’t appoint developer to control our public lands

Another petition, this one to ask the Hawai’i Senate not to confirm the new governor’s pick for chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. This is a blatant example of the standard government “revolving door” of industry lobbyists and executives taking positions of power in the agencies meant to regulate those industries, then moving back to well-paying jobs in the industries they just served while in the government, then back to a regulatory agency…

After taking two minutes to sign the petition, please read Derrick Jensen’s “Time to dismantle the corporate state” and consider the scale of what we really need to do in response to our sham democracy. Signing petitions is a tiny start, but those in power routinely ignore the voice of the people. We need to step up our resistance.

Too often too many of us pretend we live in democracies, though most of us know that we actually live in democracy’s toxic mimic: something that has the form yet perverts the content of what it pretends to be.

I’ve asked thousands of people a simple question: Who, in their opinion, do governments take better care of — human beings or corporations? And most everyone laughs. It’s a stupid and obvious question. No one says human beings. When I ask whether these governments take better care of the real world — the source of all life — than they do the legal fictions of corporations, I’m often met with blank stares: such a notion is inconceivable to most people.

But for all our private understanding that we live in plutocracies (governments by, of, and for the wealthy), or more accurately, kleptocracies (governments which have as their primary organising principle theft — from the poor, from the land, from the future), we publicly speak and act as though we do live in democracies.

Voter Registration Info for Hawai’i

Although national and even state level elections are generally so controlled by big money that they don’t offer us much leverage for intervention, we can often have some influence over local politics. Though local jurisdictions are often constrained by state and national laws specifically designed to prevent communities from defending themselves against corporate interests, a lot of important decisions do happen at this level. (And more and more localities are turning to CELDF style radical legal approaches to assert the rights of community and environment over the “rights” of corporations.)

The upcoming primary election gives us a chance to get candidates onto County Councils who will represent the people and the land, rather than pandering to corporate interests. It’s extremely important that we get new folks registered to vote, and then turn out the vote for this primary. Since this is a non-presidential year with relatively few people bothering to vote, those of us who do really matter. Depending on the district, it may only take 2000 votes in this primary for a given candidate to avoid a runoff and win the seat outright. If you can bring in a few more votes by registering and turning out friends and neighbors, you can further maximize your impact.

Registration Logistics

View full registration details, or keep reading for the most pertinent information:

Where To Get a Registration Form: Many locations, including libraries and post offices, or download online (you’ll need to print and mail in the form.) Use the same form for regular or absentee status.

Registration Cut-off: The voter office must receive registration forms for regular voting by July 10, which generally means you must mail them by July 9. They must receive registration forms for Permanent Absentee voting by August 2, so generally you must mail your form by August 1.

First Time Voters: You will need to provide proof of identification, such as a current photo ID (out of state is OK) or utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address. You can either:

  1. provide a copy with your Voter Registration application, or
  2. show it when you go to the polls for in-person voting, or provide a copy with your absentee mail-in ballot

How to Vote: If you’re registered for normal voting, you’ll receive a Notice of Voter Registration with your polling location, which will be open 7 AM – 6 PM on August 9. You can do early walk-in voting July 28 through August 7, during specific days and times. Bring proper identification.

If you sign up for absentee ballot voting, you’ll receive your ballot in the mail and need to return it by 6 PM on August 9, so generally need to mail it by August 8. You can also do early walk-in voting as described above.

HomeRule Concert June 21st – Waimea, Big Island

What: HomeRule Concert
Where: Waimea Middle School, Hawaii Island
When: June 21st 12 noon – 4PM
More info: event Facebook page

The Hawaii Center for Food Safety Action Fund has teamed up with Hawane Rios to put on a free concert to support getting more people to register to vote before the primary election. All across Hawai’i we are winning the rights needed to protect our children from pesticides and GMOs, and that will only continue if we elect better politicians, and keep in office those that have helped us thus far, such as Margaret Wille.

Free for registered voters – voter registration at the door.

Those who control our food and farmlands determine our future.

The young generation already gets it – We need their voices in the mix.

In the past year, huge victories have been won – Kauai County is requiring chemical companies to stop spraying chemical pesticides near schools, hospitals and public waterways and disclose what GMO crops they are testing in open air fields – Hawai’i Island has effectively prohibited major chemical companies from ever setting up shop here through the ban of new GMO crops.

But these victories are in jeopardy.

Our success has awoken the giants. The chemical companies are suing Kauai County so they don’t have to disclose what they are doing, and they are working at the state capitol to take the power away from counties to regulate their activities.

Each island is different. Each county has its own needs and solutions. We need to have the power to determine what is right for us on our own islands. We need Homerule.

The primary election on August 9th is going to determine who makes the decision about Homerule in the coming years. We need to vote in people who believe in Homerule. We need young people to register and to vote.

Hawane Rios and The Center for Food Safety are teaming up to present a free concert event on June 21st to celebrate Home Rule and to register young voters before the primary deadline.

Support Local: farmers, musicians, artists, producers:

Featuring local artists: The Steppas, Hawane Rios, Firewoman, and Sonny Lim

Community groups will be set up to educate about the issue and to register voters.

Please join the gathering & invite your friends!