Administration plans to go after Climate Action Plan in January

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council and administration plan to be in sync the next time money to fund the Climate Action Plan is made available.

“The deadline passed, but we have another opportunity coming up in January, and we’ll come back to this body well before that,” said George Costa, director of the Office and Economic Development. “In the future, we will be sure to disclose the deadline. That takes precedence over everything else.”

On July 26, the council referred to committee a request from the OED to apply for funds from the Hawaii Community Foundation and Partners for Places, for $100,000 to make a plan for climate change.

Councilmembers Mel Rapozo, council chair, Arryl Kaneshiro, Arthur Brun and Ross Kagawa voted to refer it. Councilmembers Mason Chock, JoAnn Yukimura and Derek Kawakami voted to approve the request as it was.

“This was the fourth time we saw it, and it got killed every single time. I voted no on it every single time because I didn’t have the information. I just wanted to know what a Climate Action Plan was, what were some of the tangibles that were going to come out of it and what we’ll see in the plan,” Kaneshiro said. “And we never ever got that. The only time we got it was when we passed the deadline. If the administration is going to push a Climate Action Plan, they should be ready to answer what is a Climate Action Plan.”

CAP is a 20-year guide to transform county operations that delivers sustainability and resilience. The goal is to achieve 80 percent reduction of carbon emission by 2023, as compared to 2007 levels.

The plan was to take it back up on Aug. 2, but the deadline to apply for the grant was July 31.

On Wednesday, councilmembers and Costa discussed the shortfalls of the July meeting and what can be done to better communicate.

In July, Costa said he was standing in for Ben Sullivan, energy and sustainability manager for OED, because he had to handle a personal matter. Councilmembers started asking detailed questions that Costa said Sullivan would have been able to better answer.

“It became apparent to me that there needed to be more information brought on my part, to assume that it was’t going anywhere. So to me, the deadline didn’t matter,” Costa said. “Now I know.”

But some councilmembers said had they known about the deadline then, they would have changed their vote.

But Yukimura said just because the deadline was last minute, doesn’t mean the CAP is.

“The plan to do a Climate Action Plan has been before the council three times before in the budget sessions, so what is a Climate Action Plan, and how it would work with the community, those kinds of things were not new,” she said.

Kawakami said the incident shows the importance of talking with the departments.

“This re-emphasizes the need for effective communication,” he said. “I think that we learned a lot.”

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