1 June 2011
Fred Talon Land Use Commission Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism State of Hawaii P.O. Box 2359 Honolulu, Hawaii 96804-2359 (808) 587-3822 Fax: (808) 587-3827 Re: Prioritization of Conservation District Boundary Interpretation Request TMK (4) 5-1-3:003 Waioli Corporation (owner), Paradise Ranch (lessee) Lepeuli, Kauai,
Aloha e Mr. Talon: I would like to request prioritization of the Conservation District Boundary Interpretation on Waioli Corporation lands in Lepeuli, Kauai, that we previously spoke about on the phone (Feb., 2011 and April 2011). This request was also made by the Kauai Chapter of the Sierra Club (attached Feb. 10, 2011 letter). I understand that your office is understaffed and that your work load is heavy, but there is a need for this boundary determination interpretation to be expedited. Fencing has been recently constructed by lessee, Paradise Ranch LLC, in what appears to be this Conservation District. May 2011 Fencing in Lepeuli In 2009, Paradise Ranch was cited for performing work in the Conservation District. Paradise Ranch applied for a SMA Minor permit from the county of Kauai for fencing and this fencing map were submitted then. 2009 Lepeuli Map with County Engineer’s notes An After-The-Fact CDUP was applied for work in this Lepeuli Conservation District, CDUP KA-3525, (attached), with fencing proposed at 110‘ from the shoreline. This permit was awarded, appealed by community groups, then later surrendered by the applicant, stating they had decided to move operations out of the Conservation District. After community members requested that stamped surveyors maps be presented as per the County Engineer’s original 2009 request (attached), Paradise Ranch LLC recently presented a stamped map (below) with a proposed fenceline in very close proximity to applicant’s interpretation of the CD location. This map states “minimum distance to be 110’ from shoreline” for the proposed fenceline. 2011 map with fenceline next to CD Boundary (as interpreted by Paradise Ranch) Attached Conservation District maps and articles show the Conservation District to be 300’ from a certified shoreline in this area. A entirely new fence was recently constructed by Paradise Ranch LLC in Lepeuli. We believe this fence is in the Conservation District and blocks the lateral coastal Alaloa. This project is federally funded through NRCS EQIP program. The pasture created by this new makai fence configuration will enable cattle to graze on a site where Hawaii State Department of Historic Preservation relocated human skeletal remains from 3 individuals. This is illegal as well as socially unconscionable. Paradise Ranch has continued to manage the coastal vegetation in the Conservation with heavy equipment, brushhogs and chainsaws. The fenceline has been constructed in the apparent Conservation District, blocking an ancient lateral trail. Steps need to be taken to determine the location of the boundary between the Conservation District and the Agricultural District in Lepeuli, as soon as possible. The Conservation District boundary presented on the maps by Paradise Ranch LLC is erroneous and and the fencing negatively impacts public access, human remains and archaeological sites. This makai Conservation District is a primary monk seal pupping and rearing area. Two pups are being reared at Ka`aka`aniu reef right now. Impacts must be considered to endangered species by the restriction of public access on the ancient Alaloa trail. This forces all lateral transit on to the beach. There are significant impacts to this fencing project. The Conservation District Boundary needs to be interpreted and determined by the state as soon as possible. What can we do to expedite this? Mahalo for your help. Hope Kallai Malama Moloa`a Attachments: Sierra Club Land Use Request SMA-Minor CDUA 3525 2011 map CD maps CD Boundary article Engineers notes .
SUBHEAD: Wake up people! Our future health, welfare and security are determined by what we decide now. Vote NO!
By Fred Dente on 13 June 2011 for The Garden Island -
Image above: Text modified poster promoting the movie about Enron "The Smartest Guys in the Room".
[Editor's note: PDF file of Recall Petition form available here (http://www.islandbreath.org/2011Year/06/110622KIUCrecall.pdf).]
To all KIUC voting members: By voting NO in the KIUC special election, you’ll be voting for a new era of accountability, transparency and true member control of our Co-op. Your NO vote signals the beginning of the end of KIUC’s plantation system, and an affirmation that you want our vital energy company to become pono in it’s future business practices and decisions. It is the wise choice for our future.
A YES vote will mean a continuation of business as usual: the highest energy prices in Hawai‘i and America; secret deals with questionable foreign entities; approval to unqualified executives to continue making unilateral decisions in our name; the accumulation of more unnecessarily huge debt load for “consulting fees” and over-inflated contracts; and a total lack of Democratic Member Control (the 2nd Cooperative Principle).
Voting YES means you are either uninformed, you don’t care to take responsibility, or you trust KIUC’s myopic managers, or any combination of the above. It was extremely frustrating for most of us to witness and participate in KIUC’s Special Meeting of the Membership on June 4 at the Veteran’s Center in Lihu‘e.
To me, it graphically represented the ongoing struggle KIUC faces as it transitions from its past as a good-ol’-boy tool of the plantation system, to the corporate plantation model it now wants to embrace.
The main problem with that scenario is that, somewhere in between those two systems, the Board of Directors chose to adopt the universally accepted Co-op model as a way to involve the customer/rate payers as owners who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
We, the owner/members, were not informed prior to KIUC’s decision to hire Free Flow Power until after the deed was done, in the darkness of night. That, and other protocols were not followed, as illustrated by Adam Asquith in his excellent power point presentation on Ho‘ike Channel 52 Public Access television. That program is still running, please watch it. It’s called “KIUC Citizen’s Panel on FERC Hydroelectric.”
From everything I’ve read, seen and heard, CEO Bissell said that Free Flow Power was chosen because of a recommendation by Bill Collet, an investment banker from Kansas City. No other reason that I know of has been given. That’s not enough for me, especially when I learned about FFP’s track record in hydroelectric and their background in the business world. Because of their use of FERC to protect them legally, FFP has acquired many hydroelectric permits. But, they have completed zero projects.
So far, it seems, there has been a lot of financial wheeling and dealing going on, but no measurable success in producing electricity. Yet, KIUC’s CEO David Bissell, calls them “the preeminent hydro power company in the world”. But, what is really alarming to me is that the founders and top executive officers of FFP were previously employed by UBS, the United Bank of Switzerland. UBS recently pleaded guilty and paid a $780 million fine, the largest tax fraud conspiracy case in world history.
In an April 22, 2011 TGI story, Bissell said the co-op did not wish to publicly announce its intent to file permit applications out of concern that “outside energy developers” would also try to file permit applications for the same resources. Isn’t Free Flow Power an outside energy developer (with no track record)? Why should we trust them? Why should we trust KIUC to hire FFP? Bissell further said: “Now, with two of the six permit requests approved, KIUC is ready to reach out to the community for feedback”. That is not pono. In a cooperative, there is no provision for secrecy in major decision-making.
It all seems to be part of KIUC’s strategy to rush this deal through without giving it a public airing and due diligence, which violates almost all Seven Cooperative Principles of its governance system. I have friends who work at KIUC, and who are on the Board of Directors.
I totally support our co-op governance model, and I want KIUC to be the best, the greenest, the most democratic and efficient energy company we can possibly have. What’s currently happening at the top of the food chain at KIUC is not nearly good enough. Send a message to KIUC.
Please vote NO to Free Flow Power. It’s a simple choice. FFP is suspect, and the whole process is humbug. I don’t think FFP would ever succeed here in Hawai‘i, because of all the opposition to the FERC process. And, without the feds to run interference, FFP is powerless.
No matter how long it takes, the process must be pono, and we must keep local control and home rule, as much as possible. Our children and our grandchildren will thank us for planning ahead by making visionary and progressive decisions with them in mind. Wake up people! Our future health, welfare and security are determined by what we decide now. Vote NO!
Ea O Ka Aina: FERC You! 6/9/11
"There are very few debt defaults... there are a whole lot of restructurings. For most of history, default is something the strong declare on the weak when they lose their patience. And if you're members of the same club, you're less likely to lose your patience. Hence you're less likely to default. Greece is in the club."
By John Michael Greer on 8 June 2011 for the ArchDruidReport - (http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2011/06/bridge-to-somewhere.html)
Image above: A large array of solar thermal alternatove energy. From (http://www.solarthermalmagazine.com/2010/11/28/innovative-approach-to-concentrating-and-collecting-solar-energy-wins-industry-award/).
Last week’s discussion of the twilight of the electrical grid in an age after abundance turned out to be timely, in an ironic sort of way. Whatever conversations it might have set in motion in the peak oil blogosphere were all but drowned out by a flurry of proclamations that some energy resource or other would keep the grid up and running for the foreseeable future. Mind you, some of that flurry could have been lifted straight from equivalent discussions in the alternative energy field three decades ago. Fans of nuclear power were busy promoting their glow-in-the-dark solutions, of course, though for some reason fusion didn’t get dragged into the discussion; the folks at Livermore must have been busy doing something else this week.
Meanwhile a longish essay posted on The Oil Drum, and widely cited elsewhere, insisted that satellite based solar power was the solution to the future’s energy problems. For connoisseurs of energy vaporware, this essay was a treat – a Dagwood sandwich of untried technologies, enthusiastic assumptions, and more than Panglossian optimism concerning the potential costs and downsides of pursuing a wholly untested and dizzyingly grandiose technological project at a time when the industrial world is so far into bankruptcy that it’s scrambling to keep its existing infrastructure from crumbling under its collective feet. Still, the chief focus of the discussion was less dated, though attentive observers will have seen it coming some time ago.
"Fracking" technology – more properly, "hydrofracturing," but only engineers call it that these days – is part of the toolkit that’s used to extract fossil fuels, and it’s become all the rage among those who want to believe that the age of cheap abundant energy isn’t dead yet. Thus there’s been a great many claims insisting either that natural gas will fuel our current lifestyles for the foreseeable future, or that it will provide a bridge to a future of renewable energy that will, again, keep our current lifestyles supplied with all the power we think we need. Now of course fracking is a reality, and one that’s had a significant impact on natural gas production in the US already.
Those of my readers who, in their younger days, shook up a bottle of soda pop good and hard, and then opened the cap, already know a good deal about the fracking process. Instead of shaking gas-bearing rock, fracking pumps in a mixture of water and toxic chemicals under high pressure, but the result is the same: bubbles of gas that were trapped in the rock (or the soda pop) come bubbling out all at once.
If you want a sudden fountain, it’s not a bad approach, but anyone who’s tasted soda out of a thoroughly shaken bottle knows part of the downside: you get most of the gas in that first big splash, and very little is left behind That’s one of the two big problems with fracking. (The other comes from the toxic chemicals just mentioned, which inevitably get into the local water supply with predictably ugly consequences.) Natural gas wells treated with fracking technology produce a lot of gas at first, but production slows to a trickle within a year or so.
The same thing is true, interestingly enough, of petroleum wells treated the same way; the drop in production there can be anything up to 80% in the first year. Thus fracking isn’t the answer to our energy future, unless "future" in this case means the next five years at most. Nor, it probably has to be said, is it a bridge to a future of mighty solar and wind plants that will keep millions of electric cars rolling down America’s highways. Even if that energy scenario was possible, and the evidence suggests that it’s not, it’s a safe bet that the energy made available by fracking won’t be used for that purpose.
Those of us who were paying attention to energy issues back in the 1970s will recall claims that the Alaska North Slope would provide just such a bridge to just such a future. Of course it did nothing of the kind. Instead, it enabled Americans to postpone the energy crisis for a few decades, and take the thirty-year vacation from reality that threw away our chances of a less than traumatic transition to the Age of Scarcity. The relatively brief gas and petroleum boom that we can expect from fracking might well permit a speeded-up replay of the same wretched spectacle: a few years of low energy costs, during which no provision will be made for the inevitable exhaustion of the stranded gas and oil reserves that fracking wells can effectively exploit, followed by a plunge into renewed crisis made even more severe by the ongoing depletion of other fossil fuel reserves. If it’s a bridge at all, it’s a bridge to nowhere.
Fueling a set of unsustainable lifestyles via unsustainable resource extraction, in other words, is not going to get us to sustainability. Of course the term "sustainability" has seen heavy service as a rhetorical weapon in recent years, and has come through the experience with a fair number of dents and scratches, but it’s not actually that difficult a concept to grasp – or, for that matter to define. To be sustainable, something – a technology, a lifestyle, or what have you – has to be able to keep going indefinitely despite whatever limits the future will throw at it. Two categories of limits deserve particular attention here. The first, ecosystem limits, sums up the relation between whatever you’re considering and the nonhuman world.
If something considered sustainable depends on using nonrenewable resources, for example, or on using otherwise renewable resources at a rate that exceeds the biosphere’s ability to renew them, it’s just flunked its sustainability test. Equally, if a technology or lifestyle or what have you puts things into the biosphere that disrupt the natural cycles of matter, energy, and information that keep the biosphere going, it’s not sustainable no matter how much green spraypaint you apply to it. The role of ecosystem limits in sustainability is tolerably well understood. Less often grasped, because of its unwelcome implications, is the second category of limits that has to be addressed, which might best be called complexity limits.
This category sums up the relation between a supposedly sustainable technology, lifestyle, etc., and the social, economic, and technological dimensions of human society, now and in the future. If those systems have a significant chance of dropping below the level of complexity at which your supposedly sustainable item can keep running, no matter how green it looks or how enduring it might be in the abstract, it’s not sustainable. This is why, for example, I’ve suggested here that the internet is not going to make it very far into the post-abundance future.
To keep the internet up and running takes a vastly complex technological structure, ranging from gigawatts of electricity from centralized power plants, through silicon chip factories and their supporting industries and supply chains, to universities that can train people in the wide range of exotic specialties that keep the net functioning. It also requires an economic system complex and rich enough, that the internet can pay its bills and outcompete other ways of providing the services that net users actually use. None of those are guaranteed, and in a world facing energy shortages, economic contraction, and attendant social and political disruption, the chances that today’s faltering industrial societies can maintain the technological and economic foundation for the internet look uncomfortably like those of a snowball in Beelzebub’s back yard.
The electricity grid, as suggested last week, suffers from much the same set of limits. Its ability to deal with ecosystem limits is open to question, since none of the alternatives to fossil fuels seem at all likely to provide a large enough amount of electricity, reliably enough, at a low enough cost to make the grid economically viable. Its ability to deal with complexity limits is at least as doubtful, since national or regional grids as currently constituted depend on an equally sprawling technological infrastructure and an equally complex set of economic arrangements. It seems quite possible that local grids – for example, the size of a small city or a group of neighboring towns – could keep going over the long term, given a stable source of electricity close at hand. There were plenty of grids on that scale across America in the first half of the twentieth century, a point that suggests that the second half of the twenty-first century could see the reemergence of at least a few.
Outside localities where this is an option, though, the only electricity that’s likely to be available to families and communities in the deindustrial future is whatever they can generate themselves. Fortunately, home generation of electricity in modest but useful amounts is an option, and it’s one that those of my readers who are getting into the green wizardry discussed on this blog can start to explore in their own lives right now. What makes it a complex option, however, is the awkward fact that most of the options for home-generated electricity available right now fail the sustainability test in one way or another. Photovoltaic (PV) power might as well be the poster child for this effect.
PV chips are made by a variant of the same process that produces computer chips, and face the same problems with complexity limits as the economic and technological basis for fab plants and worldwide supply chains comes unglued. Though silicon, the raw material of most PV chips, is one of the most abundant elements on the planet, many of the other substances used in manufacturing solar panel systems are noticeably scarcer, and there are also issues with toxic wastes and other pollutants, so there are significant ecosystem limits to the technology as well. All things considered, it’s probably a safe bet that within fifty years or so, PV cells will no longer be manufactured – not least because a technology we’ve already discussed, solar thermoelectric power, can produce electricity from sunlight using devices that a reasonably enterprising medieval alchemist could have put together. (Given that medieval alchemists pioneered the use of solar energy for distillation, using polished copper reflectors, this isn’t as strange a suggestion as it might seem.)
Does this mean that PV panels should be off the list for green wizards today? That depends on what your PV panels are intended to do, for there are two sides to the challenge that green wizardry is intended to meet. The first and most obvious task before us is to begin the process of creating and deploying prototype versions of sustainable lifestyles, homes, and communities, on a scale small and local enough that the inevitable mistakes and mischances can be managed. The second, which is too often neglected in discussions of the subject, is to meet the needs and reasonable wants of the people who are doing all this creating and deploying, during an age of economic contraction and technological unraveling when relying on the continued functioning of today’s massive and centralized systems could at any moment turn out to be a sucker’s bet.
Down the road, solar thermoelectric generators are likely to become one of the standard ways that households and small businesses provide themselves with a modest supply of electricity, while PV panels will be an exotic legacy from the industrial past where they’ve survived at all. There’s a fair amount of road to be covered between now and then, however, and during much of that time, those solar thermoelectric generators will be making the journey that runs from handbuilt prototypes in the backyards of basement-workshop inventors, through balky first-generation models of many different designs turned out by green entrepreneurs on shoestring budgets, to the shaking-out process from which the standard, sturdy, widely available models of the future will finally emerge. During that time, those of my readers who don’t happen to have a talent for nonferrous metallurgy and electrical engineering may find PV panels a useful investment.
The fact that those panels won’t be available fifty years from now doesn’t make them useless today, and someone whose main efforts are directed toward organic gardening, say, or some other dimension of the Green Wizard project, could do a lot worse than to cut her electricity use down to size and then provide the current she needs from a bank of solar panels and a stack of batteries. For that matter, even someone who’s hard at work in the basement lab assembling bimetallic strips and a parabolic reflector into a prototype thermoelectric generator might choose to retool his lifestyle in the meantime to work off a hundred watts or so of 12 volt power, and put up a few PV panels to provide that power while tinkering with the generator and getting it through the teething pains every experimental project gets to enjoy.
That is to say, PV panels can be used as a bridge. Unlike the natural gas being pumped out of the ground so frantically by fracking operations just now, it’s a bridge that leads somewhere – or, more precisely, it has the potential to be a bridge that leads somewhere, though it can also be used in less productive ways. The sort of grid-tied PV panel system that’s designed to feed 110 volts of alternating current into the grid, and can’t be used at all when the grid goes down – and yes, there are plenty of PV installations like that these days – is another bridge to nowhere; it’s designed to prop up a way of life with no future, or more precisely to go through the motions of propping up that way of life, and as often as not serving primarily as a status symbol in the meantime. The land on the other side of the bridge, to extend the metaphor a bit further, will inevitably be a place where the inhabitants use a lot less electricity than people in the industrial world do today.
Just as you need to weatherize before you solarize, to quote the appropriate tech motto from the Seventies, you thus need to make very serious cuts in your electricity use before you can realistically turn to renewable sources to meet the modest power needs that remain. Here again, any response to the predicament of our time that doesn’t start out with using much less – less energy, stuff, and stimulation – simply isn’t serious; it’s yet another bridge to nowhere.
There are quite a few potential bridges that lead somewhere, just as there are other technologies that aren’t bridges at all but fully sustainable options that will still be running long after the last PV cell stops working. In a world where the industrial nations didn’t take a thirty-year break from reality, it probably wouldn’t be necessary to use the bridges at all; in such a world, entrepreneurs would long since have followed up on the intriguing chapter on solar thermoelectric generators in Farrington Daniels’ Direct Use of the Sun’s Energy, and you’d be able to pick up neatly packaged systems with parabolic dishes on sturdy sun-tracking mounts at the better grade of hardware store, right next to the solar water heaters, the fireless cookers, and the racks of 12 volt household light bulbs. Still, that’s not the world we live in.
The world we live in is one in which a small minority of people are belatedly waking up to the ghastly predicament into which the misguided choices of recent decades have backed us, while most others are squeezing their eyes shut and covering their ears with their hands in a desperate attempt to keep from noticing the mess we’re in. In that kind of world, saving much of anything at all is going to involve quite a bit of last-minute scrambling and a fair number of temporary expedients and jerry-rigged makeshifts, and one feature that will likely be common to a great many of those latter is the use of resources extracted in one way or another from the disintegrating mass of our current industrial system.
Quite a few of our bridges to somewhere, in other words, are going to depend on a strategy that makes calculated use of the process of catabolic collapse now beginning to pick up speed in industrial America and elsewhere. I’ve got a few posts more worth of things to say about energy, and then we’ll begin talking in earnest about the third of the core elements of Green Wizardry, which is also the third great legacy from the alternative movement of the Seventies.
Most people nowadays call it recycling, and that’s not a bad term at all, but it’s come to mean little more than putting out bins once a week so that diesel-powered trucks can come haul a fraction of your waste products back into the industrial system. The work we’ll be discussing is both more robust and more personal, and so it needs a different name; we’ll be calling it salvage.
By AP Staff on 12 June 2011 in NPR News -
Image above: Orange sky and scorched earth for hundreds of square mines in Arizona. From (http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/159572/20110608/arizona-wallow-fire-apache-national-forest-springerville-evacuation.htm).
An eye-stinging, throat-burning haze of smoke spewing from a gigantic wildfire in eastern Arizona is beginning to stretch as far east as central New Mexico, prompting health officials to warn residents as far away as Albuquerque about potential respiratory hazards. The 672-square-mile blaze was no longer just an Arizona problem on Saturday as firefighters moved to counter spot fires sprouting up across the state line and lighting their own fires to beat it back.
The forest fire remained largely uncontained and officials worried that the return of gusty southwesterly winds during the afternoon could once again threaten small mountain communities that had been largely saved just a few days ago. Levels of tiny, sooty particles from the smoke in eastern Arizona were nearly 20 times the federal health standard on Saturday. The good news was that was down from roughly 40 times higher a day earlier, but it was all at the mercy of the ever-changing winds. Sunday could get even worse, said Mark Shaffer of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. "Things got better but they're still bad," Shaffer said Saturday.
The microscopic particles, about 1/28th the width of a human hair, can get lodged in the lungs and cause serious health problems, both immediate and long-term, Shaffer said. "Larger particles, you breathe in and you cough and it tends to get rid of it," he said, adding that the tiny particles get "very, very deep into your system and are very difficult to expel." Shaffer termed forecasts for gusty and unsettled wind conditions Sunday "pretty scary." New Mexico officials were continuously monitoring air quality in their state and are advising residents from the Arizona border to Albuquerque to pay close attention to conditions.
"The people we're most concerned about are obviously those with chronic health conditions but when air quality gets this bad it can actually have negative effects on everybody," said Chris Minnick, a spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Health. He said the state planned to issue an alert to residents Saturday to take precautions if the smoke gets worse, such as avoiding strenuous outdoor activities, not using their swamp coolers to cool their homes because it will suck the smoke indoors and stocking supplies of needed medications. "Just because you can't see the fire doesn't mean there isn't an effect from the smoke blowing into the state," Minnick said.
Guarding the picturesque mountain town of Greer, where 22 homes and cabins were destroyed earlier in the week, firefighter Matt Howell, 28, described the difficulty of working in such smoky, choking conditions. "You get in there and it's hard to breathe," he said. "You start coughing, can't get that good nice breath of air." More than 30 homes have been destroyed since the fire began May 29, thousands of residents have fled communities and the blaze posed a potential danger to two major power lines that bring electricity from Arizona to West Texas, although officials said Saturday they had so far been able to protect the routes.
The fire began spotting across the state line Friday night and 150 additional firefighters and several fire engines were sent to bolster forces already waiting in New Mexico, officials said. Lighter winds Thursday and Friday helped the more than 3,200 firefighters make progress, but critical fire conditions remain. Containment regressed slightly to just 5 percent, on the northeastern edge. In Greer, a smoky haze clung to fields, graying out the sky, and scattered plumes of smoke rose from the forest where spot fires persist.
"We expect the winds to be testing a lot of our lines out there," fire spokeswoman Karen Takai said. Firefighter R.J. Carnright, 28, a local protecting his own town, reflected Saturday morning on the fight just days ago and looked ahead to what's to come. "We put up a good fight and we're ready to do it again," he said, his face smeared with soot. Nearly 10,000 people have been evacuated from the towns of Springerville and Eagar and from several other mountain communities in the forest, where officials said residents may be allowed back in soon, but also warned of lingering air pollution.
"Even when the word is given that you can come home, there's still going to be some air quality issues," said Eagar Town Manager Bill Greenwood. Late Saturday afternoon, authorities said an evacuation order for about 100 homes in the Escudilla-Bonita Acres subdivision in New Mexico had been lifted. The order had kept residents away from their homes since mid-week.
The fire is the second-largest in state history and could eclipse the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski fire in size, although only a fraction of the homes have burned. That blaze burned 732 square miles (1,895 sq. kilometers) and destroyed 491 buildings. The current Wallow Fire in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has destroyed 31 homes or cabins, fire spokesman Jim Whittington said. Two dozen outbuildings and a truck also were lost and five homes damaged in Greer when the fire moved in Wednesday night. Firefighters are battling another major wildfire in far southeastern Arizona, also near the New Mexico line.
The so-called Horseshoe Two blaze burned through 211 square miles or 135,000 acres of brush and timber since it started in early May. The fire has destroyed 23 structures but caused no serious injuries. It was 45 percent contained and fire officials hope to have it fully contained by late June.
By Andy Parx on 9 June 2011 for Parx News Daily -
Image above: Scene from the ducudrama "Enron" that was produced as a Broadway stage play. From (http://topics.lingospot.com/XIXTBADGHE/enron/).
Anyone surprised at the FERC KIUC debacle wave your electricity bill in the air. Okay- you can go back to sleep now. Because unless you were under the proverbial rock for the past decade you must have been fast asleep to be shocked at anything "this co-op" does. Since day one when barnacle-on-the-butt-of-Kaua`i Gregg Gardiner convinced a group of good old boys and girls and Democratic Party bosses to pay way too much for the liability that was Citizen’s Electric, and stick the resultant debt on the backs of the island working people- the hew and cry of warnings has been a loud if ineffective undercurrent of stomach churning rage from rate payers.
"We're all for a co-op. just not THIS co-op". was the slogan of the original "nitpickers" whose moniker was proudly taken from former Mayor Marianne Kusaka's attempt to denigrate the effort that saved members $50 million and should have brought the price down by another hundred million.
But the makeup of the board was a who's who of the then, two factions of the Democratic Party, the old guard represented by aging, "442nd" party boss Turk Tokita vs the new guard of then-former Mayor and then-out-of-politics progressive JoAnn Yukimura. And when the bylaws and rules were forced down the throats of members in an all-or-nothing vote- removing the promised precepts of the Sunshine law and giving all power to the board- the course was set for today's dictatorial decision-making by a handful of the power elite.
With today's news from Pacific Business News (via the local newspaper) that William Tam, deputy director for water at DLNR said that "the state does not want Hawai‘i's (sic) in-stream flow standards to be decided by a federal agency in Washington D.C. that does not have any experience with or understand Hawai‘i’s streams" and the announcement of an effort from anti-FREC forces leader Adam Asquith to get signatures to a full page ad fully explaining all that's insanely stupid about going through the feds, the tide seems to be turning- that despite the "that's my story and I'm stickin' to it" stance of the stumble-bums on the KIUC board. And that includes the original three opponents- Carol Bain, Ben Sullivan and Jan TenBruggencate who were elected to be the voice of reason but who now, reportedly, have switched sides.
What the board seems to have forgotten are the lessons of another recent debacle- the ill-conceived and supremely bungled Superferry and the resultant battle. The reason why, shockingly, the people of Kaua`i seemed to oppose the big bad boat was not the boat itself but for the way it usurped the processes that, although usually ineffective, are at least supposedly there to protect us from deregulatory invasion from Washington D.C. and Honolulu.
Just as the feds and state conspired to remove the environmental assessment and impact statement process for the Superferry, once again a bunch of power mongers have decided to allow a federal process to negate the unique water rights and management laws that have been carefully developed over decades in Hawai`i. Then when challenged the powerful wielded their power to lie and deceive in such a blatant way that nobody failed to get the "sit down and shut up" message that General Linda Lingle and her unified command threw in the faces of those who usually, unless riled up by a lack of respect, act like sheeple.
And now though few understand the ins and outs of water usage, citizens feel the same kind of "like it or lump it" missive coming from elected officials who fail to get the message that their arrogance, not the project, is the becoming the issue. Though it's too early to tell, the rising tide of indignation over the attempted FERC KIUC sleight-of-hand indicates that the same kind of outrage that swept the island over the Superferry fiasco might just be at hand. Because, as "this co-op" circles the wagons, the natives are getting restless.
Throughout April and May, U.S. farmers faced floods, tornados, downpours and droughts — all of which made planting difficult. Now in June, intense heat has been sweeping over much of the country.
The harsh weather likely will reduce the fall's harvest, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That, in turn, could further drive up grocery prices for consumers.
"Farmers had everything thrown at them" by Mother Nature this spring, USDA economist Gerald Bange said. "Excessive rains led to planting delays, and then some of what was already planted actually got flooded."
The violent storms and persistent rains were especially challenging for Midwestern farmers who needed to get their corn crops planted by mid-May to maximize the harvest, Bange said.
The USDA has reduced its June estimate of planted corn acres by 1.5 million acres, down from its March "planting intentions" survey to 90.7 million acres. That means U.S. farmers are on track to produce 13.2 billion bushels this year, down 305 million bushels from the May estimate.
Bange said the harvest should be a record, but still will be too small to meet the record demand. "We are seeing very, very strong demand for corn for bio-energy, livestock feed input and export," he said.
Prices have been shooting up along with the surging demand. The cash price of a bushel is now at $7.75, up from $3.20 at this time last year. Some analysts expect the price to keep climbing to $9.
All of that could have a big — and bad — impact on consumers. Economists are predicting meat prices will rise 7 percent this year. And that would hurt consumers, who already have seen the average price per pound of beef rise 8 percent over the past year, according to data compiled by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
The problem of rising prices is not confined to corn-fed beef. In fact, most food prices are trending up. This past week, the American Farm Bureau Federation released its spring Market Basket survey of 16 common food items purchased at supermarkets. It found that on average, prices were 8 percent higher than one year ago.
A number of food companies, including Kraft, Kellogg, Sara Lee and Smucker, have raised prices to keep up with the surge in the cost of ingredients like corn, oats, coffee and so on. Many restaurants, including McDonald's, also have raised prices.
But Bange noted that food price hikes reflect much more than just the Midwestern flooding and the Southwestern drought. The trend toward higher prices has been in place for months — and is a global phenomenon.
A United Nations report issued last week showed that global food prices have been unusually high this year. The U.N.'s global price index for meat hit a record high in May. The U.N. blamed bad weather, high oil prices, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and export policies that restrict the flow of food.
But the single biggest factor is soaring demand for food as the world gets more crowded. Inventories of food stocks of all sorts are quite low all over the world, according to Ben Grossman-Cohen, a spokesman for Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization.
The tight inventories keep prices high, making it hard for poor people to eat. "About a billion people go hungry every day because they can't afford to grow or buy enough food," he said.
On June 22-23, the agriculture ministers of the so-called G-20 — a group of the world's biggest countries — will meet in Paris to discuss food issues. They are planning to launch an initiative called the "Agriculture Market Information System." This system would push countries to more honestly report on agriculture. For example, China has always been secretive about its stocks of food. So if China signs on, it would start to release more data about its food inventories and consumption.The agriculture ministers say transparency is important. If countries had a clearer idea of what crops were being planted and how they were coming along, then officials could respond more quickly in a coordinated way whenever they see food shortages developing. More crop information also would cut down on price speculation. .
"We're flying Kauai HI to San Francisco CA to Washington DC, to Buffalo NY. For most a gradient from good to bad. But we love Chautauqua." (http://twitter.com/#!/IslandBreath)Chautauqua is the westernmost county in New York state and just a little bit bigger than Kauai. It has about twice as many people on gently rolling green hills with lots of woodland. I have been going there all my life my wife Linda Pascatore grew up there and has her family there. In June the air is usually as crisp as a granny smith apple. Our flight arrived in San Francisco shortly after dark and it the sun was not back up until long after crossing the Mississippi. I noticed when there was enough light that you couldn't see the ground. There was a brownish haze everywhere I looked. It didn't go away as the sun rose and the plane began it's descent into DC. The air had the look of the bad old days of the late 60's before the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water & Clean Air Acts. It made you glad to move from the air-conditioned plane, through and air-conditioned jetway and on into the refrigerated terminal. I have to say, Dulles International Airport has got to be one of the ugliest airports in the world. In the 1960s it was transformed by architect Eero Saarinen into a concept piece. Saarinen was just of building the gull-wing TWA terminal at Idlewild Aiport (now JFK) in NYC. He built a flying wing of a building with a space age control tower. The terminal used rolling waiting areas to take out to the planes. They were sort of jetways not permanently to either the plane or terminal. A bad one - but at least a new idea. Anyway since the 60's the terminal has been growing like an agressive cancer. It has that Soviet ugliness. I really did not taste the air until after leaving DC. We flew north towards Buffalo - hazy all the way. Buffalo has a new sporty terminal that sings by comparison to Dulles. I didn't taste the air until getting out of the Buffalo baggage claim area. It was gritty and sour. It was not really hot and muggy. Chautauqua had its usual cool green June going - but it wasn't crisp - more like wilted lettuce forgotten in the back of the crisper. It's enough to get me looking more seriously into chemtrails and HAARP conspiracies. Windstream - Forgotten know-how The reason its taken three days to get back on line is a dance between high-tech convenience and cluelessness. Windstream is a phone company that three years ago took over Allegany Telephone Company (Altel). Windstream comes out of Georgia and seems to want to project the fast modern flow of information rather than a history as a crusty old telephone company. I called them weeks in advance to set things up so the phone and DLS internet access would be running when I hit the ground. I had used them in 2008 on my last trip and even still had the Siemen's 4200 moden ready to go. Well windstream told me I'd have to get a newer model modem for $50 (after the a $50 rebate). Reluctantly I went for it. Only one little problem. Just before I arrived in New York they sent the modem to my Hawaiian address on a slow boat to China. This meant that by the time I get back to Hawaii it will be working its way back to the sender in Georgia. I tried hooking up the old modem anyway. It would jump trough all the hurdles through the setup procedure until the last step and then fail. The tech people told me the old 4200 should be compatible. After a day and a half I drove the 15 miles and got the shiny new $100 4300 model. Needless to day - that did the exact same thing the 4200 did. After another day they had gone up two levels of tech experts and were actually sending out a specialist to my home in the boondocks to test the site. About an hour before the the specialist was to arrive someone in Georgia found the right knob or switch and I was back on the internets. Whoooeee! If this is how America looks, smells and acts - I want to get back to Hawaii sooner than later. See also: Ea O Ka Aina: A Heads Up 6/6/11 .
Republican state Rep. Mike Stone says his daughter asked in her note to "please raise the budget, dad" and help keep two teacher assistants employed.
Republican lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue are at odds over the budget that is on her desk to either sign or veto.Some in education say the proposed spending plan could eliminate 9,300 positions in the public schools. Republicans have said those numbers are exaggerated.
Lee County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss told WRAL-TV he didn't see the writing exercise as a problem.
Moss said students in other schools wrote to lawmakers and Perdue..
The report, "Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?" found regulators knew as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals.
But despite such warnings, and although the European Commission has known that glyphosate causes malformations since at least 2002, the information was not made public.
Instead regulators misled the public about glyphosate's safety, according to the report, and as recently as last year, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the German government body dealing with the glyphosate review, told the European Commission that there was no evidence glyphosate causes birth defects.
The report comes months after researchers found that genetically-modified crops used in conjunction Roundup contain a pathogen that may cause animal miscarriages. After observing the newly discovered organism back in February, Don Huber, a emeritus professor at Purdue University, wrote an open letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting a moratorium on deregulating crops genetically altered to be immune to Roundup, which are commonly called Roundup Ready crops.
In the letter, Huber also commented on the herbicide itself, saying: "It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders."
Although glyphosate was originally due to be reviewed in 2012, the Commission decided late last year not to bring the review forward, instead delaying it until 2015. The chemical will not be reviewed under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030.
"Our examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable," wrote the report authors in their conclusion. "What is more, we have learned from experts familiar with pesticide assessments and approvals that the case of glyphosate is not unusual.
"They say that the approvals of numerous pesticides rest on data and risk assessments that are just as scientifically flawed, if not more so," the authors added. "This is all the more reason why the Commission must urgently review glyphosate and other pesticides according to the most rigorous and up-to-date standards.".
Japan is racing to gain control of the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Where does the most detailed data come from?
The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and following tsunami on March 11 has seen a rush by officials to gain control of power plants in the north-east of the country and have been under pressure to resolve the situation.
Today it has been revealed that studies show the nuclear leak could be double the estimated amount when the disaster first occurred. Justin McCurry writes:
"The amount of radiation released by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the days after the 11 March tsunami could have been more than double that originally estimated by its operator, Japan's nuclear safety agency has said.
The revelation has raised fears that the situation at the plant, where fuel in three reactors suffered meltdown, was more serious than government officials have acknowledged."
Last month The World Bank estimated the cost of the nuclear crisis at $235bn (£144bn) - making it one of the world's most expensive disasters.
The operators of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), announced record losses of 1.25 trillion yen (£9.5bn) as they struggle with the nuclear crisis still present. Tepco also announced last month that there is data that would indicate that during the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, the fuel rods in three of the reactors had melted.
Although it may be some time after the radiation levels at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant rose: the severity level changed from five to seven - the same level as Chernobyl in 1986, the Fukushima plant is still being focused on as more information and images appear.
Fukushima nuclear power plant has been closely scrutinised as reports flow in on the progress of the situation - Japan's nuclear board previously raised the nuclear alert level from four to five in the weeks following the disaster and the JAIF warned of products such as dairy and spinach being restricted for shipping. Explosions and reports of nuclear fuel rods melting at the power plant have meant progress on the situation has been closely followed as has the environmental effects with concerns for marine life and spreading radiation through seawater. There were also concerns over radioactive dirt found in a school playground in Fukushima.
Industry body the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum are currently publishing daily updates of the status of power plants in Fukushima which give great detail into the condition of each reactor. Ranked from a level of low to severe, the update records the conditions of core and fuel integrity, water level and containment amongst other key information. These are some of the most in-depth and recent records and show how the crisis is being handled.
The table below shows the status of the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi (the largest of the Fukushima power plants) and is colour coded to show the severity. Green for low, yellow represents high and red shows those of severe significance as judged by the JAIF. We have used JAIF's update 154 as of 12:00 local time as this is the most up to the minute data we can get. The format of these reports has changed as of 6th June 2011 and are now focused on countermeasures and only reactors one to four, therefore some of the details collated before are now unavailable. For full details you can download the report from JAIF.
A table of major incidents and accidents at the plants can be found in our spreadsheet as can the data for Daini, Onagawa and Tokai Daini Nuclear power stations. What can you do with this data?
For spreadsheet on Fukushima damage: (https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AonYZs4MzlZbdHY4aUJhUlY3Mnd0NVFJRXVidFYtR2c&hl=en#gid=92).
Salamanders zip by, wild flowers grow along the mountainside and a misty marine layer floats up from the Pacific. Sounds like it could be Hawai'i but it was Will Rogers State Park near Topanga Canyon where I took a hike recently and learned the latest about the Big Island. While climbing to Inspiration Point, I remembered scrambling across moonscapes of volcanic lava rock previously and caught up on the current molten smoldering glow of Kilauea Volcano, plus news of its plentiful farmers markets and locally sourced eateries. Some recipes may wet your appetite:
From California's coast looking westward toward Hawai'i. Photos by R Cruger
While climbing the trail, I looked across the Pacific longingly at the islands and met Ann Shepphird who blogs for her Gardens-to-Tables website and has written extensively on Hawaiian agritourism and restaurants aboard the locavore movement. It's a natural way to eat in Hawai'i, as she says, they live in an "agricultural paradise!"
With the goal of sourcing 60 percent of its produce from certified local farms, thanks to the Hawaii Farm Bill 1471, Hawaiian chefs tap into farms, a goat dairy, fish companies, and their own gardens. Ann shares some chef's enticing recipes, like Apple Banana Kabucha Pumpkin Soup from the Fairmont Orchid, the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows' Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho with Hamakua heirloom tomatoes and watermelon, and Hamakua Mushroom Risotto from the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort. Try them with your own local ingredients.
Pineapple and rambutan at Hilo Farmer's Market. Photo by Synthetic Aperture via Flickr
Not-to-be-missed, the historic daily Hilo Farmer's Market is filled with papaya, mango and macadamia nuts, and coffee from the nearby Puna Coast. More than 200 local farmers and crafters sell their produce and wares. In season now is soursop with its pineapply, strawberryish and coconutty taste. There's also tropical fruits such as jackfruit, longan and rambutan, vegetables like taro and warabi (fiddlehead ferns), and exotic flowers from anthuriums to protea. Wash down a coconut pastry with an awa juice and pick up locally fished opihi or uhu.
Hawaiin ecotourism has played an important role in keeping the islands sustainable and Big Island Farm Bureau's Hawai'i AgVentures offers informative agri-tours of sustainable and family farms, tastings and harvests. There are 65 farm stop's on the Big Island (a/k/a Hawai'i), including the organic Honopua Farm and Waimea Lavender -- plus Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai'i Authority's research of deep-ocean energy generation, whales and micro-algae farming.
Check out organic farms on Big Island Farm Agventures. Photo by Kanu Hawaii via Flickr
The classic complaint about Hawaii is that the food is expensive. I realize it's a long way to the mainland for supplies, but still I've wondered why. Is it the little orchids decorating every plate instead of a sprig of parsley that ups the cost? In a fertile and diverse environment with 11 of the world's 13 climates, ideal for farming, agriculture accounts for $1.9 billion of the local economy and the Big Island has 820,000 acres of the state's 1.3 million acres for agriculture, according to the University of Hawai'i, per Gardens to Tables. Much is exported but there's plenty of local fresh food to be had on the Big Island.
Topanga Canyon or Big Island?
The east side of the Big Island doesn't offer long stretches of white sand beaches, but there's plenty of exotic black sand, lava tubes, waterfalls, and an endless to-do list from snorkeling to mountain climbs, landscapes from rainforests to jungles, World Heritage sites--Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and the Marine National Monument. And now my favorite island can be reached directly with United/Continental Airlines nonstops between Hilo and California, starting June 9 from LA/June 11 from San Francisco. Since direct flights are generally more energy-efficient, I'll skip hopping from Honolulu and Maui.
Also, you can stay at the solar powered guesthouse on the organic Kona Rainforest Coffee Farm where geese handle weed control and rain is harvested for the 41-acres where beans are picked, dried and roasted or the Ka'awa Loa Plantation and Guest Retreat on a 5.6-acre sustainable plantation.
Hawai'i produces 65% of the world's macadamia nuts. Photo by 4Nitsirk via Flickr
When not eating, visit the lush Hāmākua Coast, pastoral Waipi'o Valley, hike up Maunakea, bike Kīlauea volcano -- if it doesn't erupt and temporarily cool off the planet while spewing..