How is it that given 3 terrific candidates, Governor Ige goes unerringly for the very worst one – the one that represents developer/plantation/Monsanto interests? Who is giving the governor this bad advice?
Right now, those who believe in following the water law and following the state constitution’s mandated water hierarchy and public trust doctrine hold a slim majority.
Instead of confirming Denise Antolini’s interim appointment, Governor Ige has picked Bill Balfour, who has spent 39 years as a sugar plantation executive. He spent 19 years as president and manager of Pioneer Mill Company, Oahu Sugar Company, Lihue Plantation Company and McBryde Sugar Company. He also served as an Amfac executive. A major portion of his life has been spent diverting streams to sugar plantation uses.
Considering the East Maui Streams case which seeks to return the water that HC&S is diverting from streams to their central Maui sugar plantation is currently before the Water Commission, one has to wonder why the governor would pick yet another nominee with a clear conflict of interest.
Worse yet, Balfour has worked as a consultant for Monsanto. In 2013 the Water Commission turned Monsanto down for a larger water allotments on Maui and Oahu. Since then tMonsanto has worked hard to insert themselves into Water Commission business. In 2013 they managed to get their lobbyist appointed to the water commission nominating committee.
What a coup for the Monsanto lobbyist on the Water Commission Nominating Committee! It may have taken two years but now they have a seat on the Water Commission.
Antolini is an associate dean and law professor at UH’s Richardson School of Law. She heads up the environmental law program. As such she is eminently qualified to sit on the Water Commission whose decisions are based on environmental law.
Here’s the question to Governor Ige: Do you want the Water Commission to follow (and know!) the law or do you want to turn the majority of commissioners into a rubber stamp for the plantations and their successor development/water operations?
Update: Monsanto lobbyist Alan Takemoto is no longer on the Water Commission Nominating Committee. Monsanto Attorney Yvonne Izu is.