Recently, there have been decisions made from the authority within the levels of government. The counties cannot make certain decisions that the state has the authority over. The state cannot make certain decisions that the feds have the authority over.
There is a problem with this pyramidal chain of command when we are talking about “islands.” An island by nature is sovereign. It stands alone and is surrounded by water. The life of the island is her highest authority, period. There is no higher authority above the life of the island, reference the happenings at Bikini Atoll (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Nuclear_testing_ at_Bikini_Atoll), an island group whose sovereignty was overrun and the islands became no longer capable of sustaining life.
When Kauai put a halt to the introduction of the Superferry, the life of the island was preserved. When the protests were made in the early 1990s that PMRF should not be a nuclear-weapons launch site, and the commander of the base said that it was not, and would not become one, the life of the island was preserved.
When the agri-chemical companies were accused of field testing restricted-use chemical pesticides, there were protests and the county began to take action to preserve the life of the island. County government set about building regulations and laws to preserve the life of the island and its people.
The agri-chemical people sued the county government for their actions, saying that the county could not make laws and regulations above their authority level to preserve the life of our island, Kauai. The Federal Ninth Circuit Court sided with the agri-chemical people and with their decision the county lost its sovereignty on this issue and now may not make law or regulate the actions of the agri-chemical seed-growers.
And so, therefore, the county has now lost its ability to preserve the life of this island in that arena. Our island is now more vulnerable to powerful outside influences, including the state and the federal governments.
I believe our vulnerability extends also to 1) over-development as on Oahu; 2) extreme traffic congestion as on Oahu; 3) large, out-of-proportion, military facilities and installations as on Oahu; 4) over-extended water use as on Oahu; and 5) as on Oahu, an over-populated, totally dependent citizenry that is 2,300 miles from the U.S. Mainland.
In the face of these influences, what can help us to preserve the life of Kauai?
I put my hope in the clear thinking and pono actions of the children as they grow to help to preserve the life of our island home.
Mark Jeffers is a resident of Hanapepe.