State lays groundwork for more clean energy

HONOLULU – The goal of breaking Hawaii’s addiction to shipped-in oil first took vague shape during a ceremony in the governor’s executive chambers, with lofty speeches and frequent applause but few specifics.

The ceremony featured a broadly worded deal between the state and federal government to work together toward a so-called clean energy future. The agreement lacked details or the force of law, and it seemed to have all the substance of a government report destined to gather dust.

Almost three years later, however, the initiative launched in the Governor’s Office that day has helped support dozens of energy programs that have laid the groundwork for the nation’s most oil-dependent state to potentially become its most energy self-sufficient.

It will take at least a few more years before a major influx of renewable energy puts a dent in Hawaii’s heavy oil usage, but the state is making visible progress.

Tall wind turbines are sprouting across the islands. Residents and businesses will soon be able to sell homegrown solar power back to the grid. Charging stations for incoming electric cars are being built – by law, at least one per 100-space parking lot by the end of next year.

Lingle picks new deputy water resources director

Gov. Linda Lingle has nominated a new deputy director of water resources within the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Jonathan Scheuer’s selection was announced Tuesday by Lingle’s office.

The nomination will be submitted to the Commission on Water Resource Management for consideration at its Sept. 23 meeting.

Scheuer has worked for himself as a private consultant since mid-1990. For the last six years, he also served as a policy analyst and, later, director of land management for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

According to Lingle’s office, Scheuer led water rights advocacy efforts on Maui and Kauai, and sits on the boards of the Hawaii Land Conservancy and Oahu Land Trust.

Lingle picks new deputy water resources director – Hawaii News –

CQ Politics | Gubernatorial Outlook in the Net-Zero Remap States: Part II

This is final segment of our series on this year’s gubernatorial races and how they will affect congressional redistricting, which will take place after the this year’s census is completed. With a focus on seats up in 2010 now held by Republicans in states that are projected to keep the same number of House seats following reapportionment, we hope this will be a little light reading for your holiday weekend.

Light, at least, compared to the previous segment on the races for Democratic-held seats in the “net-zero” reapportionment states. There were 16 of those, and only 11 states in the GOP column that are detailed in the roundup below.

Last week, we looked at the redistricting implications of gubernatorial races in states that are projected by political data analysis firm Election Data Services (EDS) – based on July 2009 Census Bureau population estimates – to either gain seats or lose seats in reapportionment. All told, we have looked at all 43 states that are projected to have more than one district and therefore must gear up for redistricting.

The remaining seven states, the nation’s least populous, have the minimum of one at-large House seat guaranteed to each state in the Constitution. There are races for governor in four of those states: Alaska, where Republican incumbent Sean Parnell is running; South Dakota, where Republican Gov. Michael Rounds cannot run because of term limits; Vermont, where Republican Gov. Jim Douglas is retiring; and Wyoming, where Democratic incumbent Dave Freudenthal is term limited. Current incumbents in Delaware (Democrat Jack Markell ), Montana (Democrat Brian Schweitzer ) and North Dakota (Republican John Hoeven , who is running this year for Senate) were elected in 2008 and their seats are not up for election until 2012.

Republican “Net-Zero” States

Hawaii: Hawaii is one of a handful of states in which a bipartisan commission performs congressional redistricting. So this year’s contest to succeed term-limited Gov. Linda Lingle (R) will have no remap impact. It is, nonetheless, an interesting race. Democrats, who have generally dominated politics in Hawaii since it became a state in 1959, will be trying to reclaim the governor’s office won in 2002 and 2006 by the moderate Lingle, and will decide between two longtime political arch rivals in the Sept. 18 primary, former Rep. Neil Abercrombie (who in February resigned his seat to run) and Honolulu Mayor [@url@Mufi Hannemann@ Republican Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, who is trying to prove Lingle’s wins were no fluke, is expected to easily outrun his less-known primary opponents.

Hawaii Rally, Protesters Bandy Tax Hike Proposal – NY Times

HONOLULU (AP) — Advocates for the poor and labor union workers rallied Tuesday for an increase in Hawaii’s version of the sales tax as anti-tax protesters urged the government to back off.

More than 200 people gathered at the state capitol to ask lawmakers for a 1-percentage point increase in the general excise tax imposed on goods and services. The tax, known as GET, is currently 4.5 percent on Oahu and 4 percent elsewhere in Hawaii.

They waved colored signs saying ”GET” and urged lawmakers not to eliminate jobs and services.

”The cuts are too deep. They are damaging the economy,” the Rev. Bob Nakata, a Methodist minister, told the crowd. ”It’s not just the bleeding hearts that are saying this needs to be done.”

Hawaii’s money troubles have resulted in less government support for public schools, child protective services, mental health, social service providers and agriculture inspectors. Hundreds of public employees were laid off, and the rest are taking pay cuts through furloughs.

Two Senate committees have approved the tax hike, but Senate financial planners intend to kill the proposal, which would raise about $458 million annually toward the state’s $1.2 billion projected budget deficit through June 2011.

‘Agricultural disaster’ aid available for Maui County – The Maui News


‘Agricultural disaster’ aid available for Maui County


POSTED: December 11, 2009

WAILUKU – For the second straight year, Maui County farmers and ranchers could receive federal aid after the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared the county an "agricultural disaster zone" Thursday.

U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka announced the disaster zone, which also includes Hawaii County and Kalaupapa on Molokai. The drought is headed toward a fourth year, although rainfall has increased this fall and winter.

The Agriculture Department’s Weekly Crop Report for Hawaii noted that the state’s crops overall were in fair to good condition with pasture fields slowly improving and orchards doing fine. But Molokai remains under a mandatory 20 percent water reduction for all water consumers, except those on homesteads. The county also still asks residents in Central and South Maui to conserve water consumption voluntarily by 10 percent.

Farmers outraged » Honolulu Weekly

A meeting at the State Capitol last Thursday drew testimony from dozens of people concerned about how planned layoffs of more than 50 state agricultural inspectors will impact Hawaii’s export industry.

A few testimonies came from specialists and elected officials–Hilo Mayor Billy Kenoi called the move a “serious mistake.” Most comments came from small-business owners from the neighbor islands who, in language ranging from anger to desperation, expressed alarm about what the cuts will do to their livelihoods.

Agricultural inspector layoffs slammed – The Maui News


KAHULUI – Environmentalists and farmers lashed out Thursday night at the announced layoffs of state agricultural inspectors, arguing that the move planned by the Lingle administration would uproot efforts to preserve the island’s agricultural industry and pristine environment.

Close to 100 people turned out at a Senate Ad Hoc Committee meeting held in the Maui Waena Intermediate School cafeteria. The crowd applauded those who spoke against the layoffs, some even attacking Gov. Linda Lingle.

Funds Located May Prevent Agriculture Cuts – KITV Honolulu

HONLULU — The head of the state agriculture department said Wednesday she’s located funds to cut in half the number of agriculture inspectors who may be laid off because of the state’s budget crisis.

The Lingle administration plans to use money from a new user fee that the governor tried to veto two years ago.

In August, the state notified 50 agriculture inspectors they could be laid off — that’s two-thirds of the staff who check Christmas Trees and incoming produce for invasive pests like snakes and insects.

The farming industry is upset, because a lack of inspectors will slow down outgoing shipments of everything from corn seed to fish grown in aquaculture operations.

The Chairperson of the State Agriculture Department said she plans to use money from two funds to cut the amount of layoffs in half to 25 inspectors.

"That would give us some breathing room as we continue to look for more funds and at least to stave off the initial layoffs during this period," said state agriculture chairwoman Sandra Kunimoto.

Oahu gobbles resources as other isles make do – Columnists –

By Cynthia Oi

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 30, 2009

Maggie Cox makes a good point. If public libraries on rural islands are to be closed to save the state some money, it’s only fair that libraries on Oahu share the pain.

Cox represents Kauai on the Board of Education and though none of the libraries at the top of the list for shuttering are on the Garden Island, Cox speaks in defense of the stepchildren of the state.

They are the Cinderella regions of Hawaii, exploited for the natural beauty they have largely retained while most of Oahu has been so disfigured it is no longer eligible for the tourism image of unspoiled paradise.

They are expected to do the heavy lifting for undesirable projects like prisons and military training grounds, but stand at the back of the line for the good stuff like technologically top-grade schools and medical facilities.