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.

One thought on “Testimony needed: don’t appoint developer to control our public lands

  1. Norris Thomlinson Post author

    Good news: Governor Ige withdrew the nomination for Ching and instead nominated Suzanne Case, the Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy. Public pressure to avoid a blatant conflict of interest worked this time! Thanks to everyone who helped apply that pressure!


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