Big Five A&B gets legislature to overrule Court

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When Native Hawaiian Legal Corp won a landmark case against A&B forcing A&B to return East Maui stream water, the decision was hailed as a step forward in reining in a missionary company whose environmentally damaging practices have continued for 140 years.  A&B has traditionally controlled enough legislators to get away with anything.  But finally, the Court called a halt on their exploitation of the environment and Hawaiians.

But wait!

A&B induced legislators friendly to them, in particular, Joe Souki and Kyle Yamashita, to sponsor legislation to overrule the court decision on the “holdover” permits.  DLNR invented the status “holdover” so that A&B could pull millions of gallons per day from East Maui for 13 years without doing the environmental assessment that is required by law.  The court ruled that yes, this was a fiction and that DLNR couldn’t invent a special category of permit designed to excuse A&B from complying with the water rules.

A&B, through the Farm Bureau, then issued a highly misleading flyer to the legislature listing entities with “revocable” permits in an attempt to confuse legislators into thinking that HB2501 applied to other entities.  But the fact is, that only A&B has “holdover” permits and this bill has no effect on anyone else.  When some of the entities mentioned on the flyer were interviewed they not only didn’t know their names had been used but were highly incensed that they had been used to support a bill that they opposed.

Kahea had this to say:

The people of East Maui have long awaited the full return of water to their streams. Almost all of their water has been taken by Alexander & Baldwin Company, which has been diverting millions of gallons of water every day for decades primarily for its commercial sugar production. We know there is more than enough water to ensure diversified agriculture (including hemp) on Maui, for healthy streams and a vibrant taro-growing community. There is more water flowing through the streams of East Maui every day than is consumed on the entire island of O‘ahu. Now that A&B has announced its last sugar plantation will close by the end of 2016 and the courts have ruled the state improperly allowed A&B to continue diverting water from public land without permits, we expect the streams to flow again.

But the streams have not been fully restored. Despite ongoing litigation which has invalidated their water permits in addition to an incomplete contested case, A&B is using its billion-dollar political influence to aggressively pursue a bill in the state legislature to evade a court ruling against them. Proposed measure HB2501 would allow A&B to divert an unlimited amount of water indefinitely without environmental review or mitigation for the harm to East Maui residents who rely on that water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and growing taro.

To begin to restore the balance in our environment and justice in our community, A&B’s “water theft” bill (HB2501) cannot be adopted into law.

Sen Gabbard killed the senate version of the bill but the House passed HB2501, helped by Speaker Souki and an astonishing lack of critical thinking by the House members.

As the House bill crossed over to the Senate for another bite of the apple, A&B concentrated on convincing senators that overruling the court decision would help food production on Maui.  Never mind that they intend to grow biofuel crops and perhaps lease a small amount of land to a cattle operation.  Oh, and lease 1,000 acres to Mayor Arakawa to make sure he continues supporting them.

Additionally, A&B appears to have continued water diversions despite the court invalidating their permits.

Nonetheless, the senate explicitly removed A&B from HB2501 which left it legislating A&B’s cover story (e.g. nothing, since no one else had a holdover permit.) Apparently A&B and the Farm Bureau did such a good job getting the senator’s completely bamboozled that they now had a bill that was unnecessary but which they thought was protecting small water users with revocable permits – water users who had never asked for the bill but had only been used as cover for A&B’s special interest bill.

As was expected, the bill went to conference committee and A&B was put back into HB2501 making it once again, an illegal bill designed to help a single company.  (A no-no in the Lege and the reason the State Supreme Court invalidated the Superferry Act 2)

Coincidentally, the day prior, A&B announced they would release water in the seven most contentious streams of East Maui.  Legislators hailed this as a selfless act – without understanding A&B was only partially obeying the court order requiring cessation of water diversions.   The Court voided A&B’s permit to divert this water.  A&B’s PR is indeed masterful.

The most charitable interpretation of the conference committee’s action is that the legislators brokered a deal whereby A&B released the most contentious of water diversions in exchange for getting their special interest bill passed.

The less charitable interpretation is that many senators have taken quite a bit of money from A&B and know that A&B controls the Forward Progress Super PAC with its $10,000,000 donor PAC.  Babes Against Biotech did the research:

A&Bcontributions

As the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp said:

“Over one hundred years ago, shrewd and politically-savvy sugar barons acquired control of vast amounts of land and resources to exploit for their commercial enterprises. … Today, history repeats itself, as A&B has once again used its clout to entice certain Hawaii state legislators and agencies to defy — even collude to overturn — a court order declaring A&B’s East Maui diversion of any streams flowing across 33,000 acres of state ceded lands for its commercial enterprise to be illegal.”

But wait!  There’s more!

The House under Speaker Souki, decided to protect A&B and HB2501 from further legal action by defunding the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. in the judicial supplemental funding bill, SB2102 .  Yes.  Speaker Souki’s House not only created a special interest bill undermining the court decision on water,  but is also attempting make sure that the illegal bill won’t be challenged by defunding the public interest law firm which won the case in the first place.

Somehow we suspect this will not stop the plethora of environmental and Hawaiian organizations from challenging HB2501 as a special interest bill created for the benefit of a single company.

 

Corruption at the top of the Hawai’i Pesticide Division

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The large chemical companies are challenging Hawai’i county laws mandating pesticide buffer zones and introduce “right to farm” bills galore because, they say, pesticides are regulated by the Department of Agriculture Pesticide Division headed by Thomas Matsuda.

In an explosive release of phone transcripts, citizen investigators at the Facebook group, “Maui’s Dirty Little Secrets” show that the Pesticide Branch is not enforcing the EPA rules on pesticides and is, in fact, dragging their feet on known contamination sites and spraying regimes violating the label instructions.  It is illegal to use pesticides in a manner inconsistent with label instructions which have the force of law.

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Monsanto awards itself Wildlife Habitat "certification"

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Monsanto has been trumpeting its award from the Wildlife Habitat Council – a PR invention by the worlds most egregious polluters.  Their website appears to be created by the same company that created Great Ecology‘s website.  Great Ecology is a corporate PR company.

According to a website critical of the Wildlife Habitat Council, its members include major polluters such as Koch Industries, Bayer, Dow, Monsanto itself, BASF, Exxon, Dupont and more.  The following is a partial list of members reproduced from the site.

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Lege cut back on DoH vector control – now Big Island has Dengue

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In this November 9, 2015 interview with Dr. Lorrin Pang, who successfully eradicated Dengue from Maui island in 2001, he talks about the Legislature cutting funds for disease vector (e.g. mosquitoes etc) control.  We can hope that his effective and hands-on approach will be able to stop the Big Island infection and that the Legislature quickly gives him the money to do it.  According to Senator Kalani English, there is $1.5 million that can be used.

Dept of Health dropping the ball on Big Island dengue?

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Dengue is a serious disease caused by a bite from an infected mosquito.  With many popular surf spots in overseas endemic Dengue areas, we generally have a few cases brought back every year.  On Maui aggressive steps, under Public Health officer Dr. Lorrin Pang, to prevent Dengue from taking hold in our local mosquitoes has isolated these cases and prevented a recurrence of the 2001 situation where East Maui mosquitoes became infected with Dengue.

Prior to that, the last known Autochthonous (caused by our mosquitoes rather than contracted overseas) dengue infections in Hawaii were in 1944.  Allowing dengue to get a toe hold in our home-grown mosquitoes, would be a disaster.  For instance the island of Bali has yearly outbreaks which fill their hospitals to 100% occupancy.

But now dengue has taken hold on Big Island.

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Elle Cochran files complaint against Forward Progress, PRP & Buenconsejo

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PRP and its successor organization, Forward Progress (both bankrolled by the Carpenters Union slush fund, Hawaii Carpenters Recovery Market Fund, are yet again the subject of allegations for dirty dealings and illegal actions.

Maui County Councilmember Elle Cochran filed a complaint today with the Campaign Spending Commission against Pacific Resource Partnership (“PRP”), Forward Progress, and former Maui County Council candidate Butch Ka’ala Buenconsejo.  The complaint alleges that Forward Progress and Buenconsejo engaged in illegal campaign coordination during the 2014 election year.  It further alleges that Forward Progress made unauthorized expenditures and contributions to Buenconsejo’s campaign.  The complaint seeks to have fines imposed upon PRP/Forward Progress and its responsible individual directors in an amount three times the illegal expenditures made to Buenconsejo.  It further seeks to ban PRP from organizing or operating as a Super PAC under any name in the State of Hawai‘i.

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400 Maui activists say no to TPP. Talks end without agreement

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On July 29th with the secret Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty (TPP) negotiators and ministers sequestered in the plush Mariot resort at Ka’anapali Beach on Maui, 400 conch shell blowing TPP protestors showed up to say “no” to the TPP.

Photo of 400 conch shell blowing Maui residents protesting the Trans Pacific Partnership at Ka'anapali Beach outside the secret TPP negotiations held at the Westin.

On Maui 400 Stop the TPP on Land and Sea protestors sound the kahea (call) with conch shells

Event organizer Trinette Furtado said that in blowing the pū (conch shell),

“we are putting out a mighty kahea (call), past the shorelines of Maui, to connect with others standing up for their ‘āina (land) and people.”

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TPP Negotiators on Maui Will Be Greeted by Anti-TPP Pū blowers

july29flyerTPP secret negotiations are going on right now at the plush Westin Maui Resort & Spa at Ka’anapali on Maui.

Activists on Maui are preparing to greet the TPP nation ministers with an attempt to break the Guinness World Record in beach pū (conch) blowing outside their hotel.  A tiny group of Maui residents are putting together this national event with backing and help from Kāko’o Haleakalā, AiKea, Hawaii Sierra Club, Hawai‘i SEED Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action H.A.P.A, UNITE HERE Local 5, Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, Flush the TPP, Popular Resistance, MoveOn, CREDO, SumOfUs, Babes Against Biotech, Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, `Ohana o Kauai, Occupy Wall Street Maui and many more.

In the last four days since discovering that the TPP negotiators were holding meetings on the secretive treaty on Maui, they’ve gotten permission from Guiness World Records to try for a world record, created a website, TPPmaui.com, put out PSAs and press releases and coordinated with the national groups.

Maui’s noisy anti-TPP event takes advantage of Hawai’i laws which say that the beach is public property.

SumOfUs has contributed towards T-shirts for participants to highlight the opposition to the TPP.

Event organizers say:

I ka wā ma mua, ka wā ma hope (“the future is in the past”) – In understanding the past, we look to the future: we rally together in prelude to  Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Restoration Day, when after being temporarily seized by the British Navy, sovereignty was restored and Kamehameha III proclaimed before a large crowd, ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina i ka pono (“The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”)

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos