Arriving home late last night after a stimulating conversation about the role/purpose/origin of evil/darkness/fear — one of my favorite, but so rarely discussed, topics — I was too wired to sleep, so Koko and I followed the orange crescent moon as it sunk toward to its resting place in the mountains.
And just as it slipped into a gap between Wailaleale and Makaleha, the star-packed sky let one of its inhabitants fall. We returned home then, cold and more-wide awake than ever. Well, not Koko. She snuggled up against me for warmth and promptly fell into the deep luxurious sleep that dominates a dog’s life.
The county planning commission must have been fast asleep yesterday. Otherwise, how could they possibly have thought it was in anyone’s interest but the developer’s to give him a three-year extension on the Coco Palms permits? Not only did their action reward bad behavior and defy logic — what’s the likelihood a developer is gonna spend money on fix-up stuff in bad times when he didn’t do it in good? — but now he has something of value to sell, rather than just a ramshackle collection of buildings growing a seriously creepy colony of mold.
Also seriously creepy is the news that G&R is leasing Dow Agro-Sciences some 3,400 acres of land to grow seed crops of corn, soybean and sunflowers. Now let’s put this in context, something that neither The Garden Island nor The Advertiser nor the Star-Bulletin did in its coverage, which apparently derived from a telephone press conference with Dow.
Right now, there’s only about 4,000 acres of seed crops being grown in the entire state.
So that means Kauai will rocket to the forefront of this industry and be firmly ensconced in the enviable position as GMO capital of the state. Wow, lucky us.
In making the announcement, G&R’s Alan Kennett uses all the familiar ploys to gain sympathy for its decision. The huge losses it’s facing. Costly cesspool construction for its camp houses — half occupied by retirees. Jobs (but just don’t mention Kauai folks will get all the low-paying, toxic ones, while the good-paying gigs will be filled by people drawn from out of state.) And, of course, the clinchers:
We’re going to be keeping the Westside of Kaua‘i green.”
“The alternative is to grow concrete and put hotels up.”
Heck, you could also spray paint the landscape green, but would that necessarily be desirable? As for the hotels, yeah, right. Don’t you think if that was a viable option G&R would’ve jumped on it a long time ago?
All three papers dutifully repeated some version of Dow’s platitudes:
We are committed to the Kauai community and will continue the good land stewardship that Gay & Robinson has demonstrated over the past decades," said Adolph Helm, Mycogen Seeds' project leader on Molokai.
Only one, the Bulletin, bothered to get another point of view:
Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff, who opposes genetically modified crops, said the trend is alarming.
"We continue to have a need for locally grown, sustainable crops to feed our population," said Achitoff. "Instead of doing that, we're filling the acreage with crops that don't feed anybody in Hawaii."
But hey, take heart. They won’t be doing any biopharm crops. And you know that’s true, because they said so. And their say-so is the only thing we have to go on in these matters, seeing as how the state has been so lulled into a somnambulant condition by the seed industry dollar dollar signs it won’t lift a finger to regulate or oversee this industry.
Meanwhile, G&R’s decision to lease to Dow pretty much spells an end to another one of its ill-advised ventures: Pacific West Energy’s ethanol project. You know, the other plan to keep Kauai’s Westside green, whose developers applied for a permit to burn coal in the plant — just until the sugar part of the process came on line, of course.
I knew that project, which was slated to be on line last year, was a boondoggle when I first reported on it three years ago. Why? Because Pacific West is not an energy company, it’s a group of investors — with developer Bill Maloney and his family foremost among them — looking to take advantage of state and federal tax credits.
Henry Curtis, director of Life of the Land, was also wise to Maloney from the start, sending out a press release in 2006 under the email heading “Hawai’i Ethanol: Upsetting Facts" – that proclaimed: "Ethanol Production is a Scam.” He had estimated it would take 4.18 pounds of fuel to generate 1 gallon of ethanol. As I reported:
‘The idea of using fossil fuels to create renewable energy and then calling that green is kind of an oxymoron,” [Curtis said.]
Maloney, contacted on his cellular phone in Washington state, says he was a bit taken aback by Curtis’ suse of the word "scam." Although he acknowledges that LOL based its computations on data contained in Maui Ethanol’s [the company's prior name] permit application, Maloney says the overall picture "is more complicated" than LOL’s figures suggest.
"We put in an application for the boiler to be fired by coal because that’s the worst case scenario,"’ Maloney explains. "It’s really a coal-biomass plant. In the long run, we’ll be using sugar cane to produce ethanol, and this is certainly what we want to work toward."
Instead, now that the price of oil has plunged and the ethanol market has collapsed, so have all G&R’s and Maloney’s dreams of producing 12 million gallons of ethanol and enough steam and electricity to run itself and G&R’s sugar mill, while still returning 140 kilowatts of electricity to Kaua’i’s grid and making piles of money along the way.
Now G&R is dragging the entire island into its latest money-making dream-turned-environmental nightmare: GMO crops all over the westside.