Letters for Tuesday, May 1, 2007

• A better game plan

• Spotlight on solid waste

• Sewage legislation attempt


A better game plan

Mahalo to The Garden Island for its stance on the big box stores (“Big box bill … let’s breathe, people,” In Our Voices, April 29). Everyone knows that it is expensive to live on Kaua‘i and that it would be great to have lower prices. Though growth can bring more services and culture to an area, it is time to dispel the old fashioned notion that growth and development brings lower prices. Many Mainland communities, as well as O‘ahu and Maui have learned the hard lesson that increase in the size of a community means more need for infrastructure and social services. Soon taxes must be raised and shortly thereafter, merchants compensate by raising prices. The result is that we then have a higher cost of living and, in addition, we are hostage to the whim of large corporations that find it expedient to create more growth to create more business. Our government has already made some tragic development errors and it is too late to nip this weed in the bud, but it is not too late to develop a deep understanding of the process, create a better game plan and find more positive solutions for those who truly need lower prices. At the end of the big box store tunnel there is no cheese.

David H. Dinner

Kilauea


Spotlight on solid waste

Mahalo to The Garden Island for recent efforts to cover the issue of our county’s solid waste management. The recent radio show interview with former county and state solid waste manager/consultant John Harter on April 12 (“Thursday Mornings with The Garden Island newspaper,” KQNG Radio, AM570) brought to light some of the issues that our current administration needs to reconcile. Locating a new landfill site is one of them. Increasing opportuniites for commercial and residential recycling and other waste stream diversion options like green waste collection, commercial and residential composting were discussed as well.

The incineration of our solid waste as the preferred method for disposal, as proposed by Mayor Bryan Baptiste, and the location of the new and necessary landfill should be on every KaLeo o Kauai community agenda for discussion. Like the concept of the Hawai‘i Superferry, the idea of burning our trash to convert into electricity for sale and consumption sounds promising at first, but upon further review, a whole lot of economical and environmental issues surface. Some of these issues are obvious, like where will this facility be located, or how harmful are the toxic emissions from its smokestack? The issues of cost, location and operation should be worked out before significant funds (taxpayers take note) are released. Less obvious but just as significant are issues regarding contracts with facility operators, private haulers and KIUC. Our county’s history of managing contracts is less than stellar (as pointed out in the April 22 TGI article “Resource Center could reopen soon — County canceled contract more than a year ago”). Hidden costs are sure to surface and will add to the financial liabilities of the project. The ultimate price tag (both financial and environmental) for such a facility will be borne not by us, but by our children.

The above-mentioned article about our Resource Center raises more questions about our county’s solid waste management and its goals to reduce the flow of recycled products occupying precious space in our landfill. Why was the contract with Island Recycling terminated instead of levying a fine or some other type of penalty for its violation? What options were considered by the county before deciding to close down the Resource Center? How did this decision impact the waste stream diversion goals of the county? Did the county’s decision to terminate the contract save or cost us taxpayers money? According to the aforementioned article, the county acknowledges the contractor’s positive impact on increasing our recycling rates and expanding waste diversion options while the contractor claims of no wrong doing. Why this did not warrant further investigation from the reporter I’m not sure but the question “How come?” remains.

I hope your future coverage of our solid waste issues goes further in depth and helps to educate our community and facilitate the necessary discussion for wise and practical decisions by our residents and government leaders.

James G. Trujillo

Kapa‘a


Sewage legislation attempt

For those of you not aware, the federal whale and marine sanctuary allows, through a loophole, the dumping of vessel sewage into the ocean. Hawai‘i prohibits the dumping of most of this sewage out to the limits of the state jurisdiction, but the currents and wind often take the legally dumped sewage to shore, harming wildlife and shocking and threatening humans. Although the harbors are lacking in repairs and pumper facilities, a proven solution is available: Pumper trucks pull right up to the slips and haul the sewage to land-based treatment. This has been proven inexpensive, clean, and convenient elsewhere. Maui County now funds pumper trucks at Ma‘alaea Harbor.

A detailed resolution was presented to the Hawai‘i Legislature to ask the federal government to prohibit dumping of vessel sewage in sanctuary waters.

Here are a few highlights of the legislative session regarding the “Pump Don’t Dump” resolution:

• Rep. Joe Bertram III from Maui promptly introduced the House version of the resolution.

• Maui’s Sen. Roz Baker submitted the Senate version of the resolution after obtaining a good portion of that body as signers.

• Rep. Mele Carroll, also from Maui, as vice chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, took initiative by adding back some wording removed by House counsel, and adding wording to request DOCARE to assist in the implementation of the mobile dock-side pumper truck solution. Rep. Hermina Morita of Kaua‘i, as chair of the committee, is also credited for assisting.

• The Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, chaired by Sen. Ron Menor and vice-chaired by Sen. Gary Hooser of Kaua‘i, listened to testimony and made an important amendment which clarified wording.

• The Senators and Representatives passed the resolution out of committee without opposition, and were successful on the floor of each House.

• The committees rightfully gave credit to the dozens of citizen volunteers, who submitted testimony. They also noted the testimony of international profile organizations, such as Marine Connection, Cetacea Defence, UK, the Whaleman Foundation and Whalesong Project.

• Both Houses passed the final version of the Resolution, HCR 58 HD 1 SD 1.

Many other acknowledgements could be made, but are too numerous to mention.

The Legislature now stands next to its citizens and the environment on calling for the federal government to prohibit sewage dumping in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Richard Fairclo

Haiku, Hawai‘i

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