Friday, December 21, 2007

Musings: Dirty Laundry and Light

Heavy nighttime showers departed this morning, leaving behind a brown river that ran down the low side of the street. The sun rose as Koko and I walked, treating us to such visual delights as sunlight on the pastures, sparkling raindrops in the trees, a patch of rainbow in the clouds over Waialeale.

It felt good to get out and connect, and that’s the sense I got from people who attended the Superferry community meeting the other night. I didn’t go, but two friends called with reports, the nifty website posted an account and I received a few emails about it, too. Overall, the sentiment seemed to be it’s important to continue connecting as an empowered community to support efforts to malama Kauai.

Speaking of connecting, I just got an email from my Mom — a daily reader — wondering if I’m all right because I didn’t blog yesterday. It was the first time I didn’t post since I started Kauai Eclectic. But my body simply rebelled against extended computer time yesterday, and it turned into a rather busy day with visits from friends, as well as the Humane Society.

Yes, the hunting dog went to the shelter in hopes she will be found by her owner. My friend Kaimi, who stopped by after looking at the shelter for his own missing dog, encouraged it. Then my neighbor, who shares my yard, called KHS to pick up a dog harassing her cats, and so the paddy wagon was right there in my driveway. It seemed like all signs were pointing in that direction.

It also seems like signs are pointing toward the need for KKCR to look more closely at its community radio mandate. I listened to the call-in show about Kailualani’s dismissal yesterday, and the action ignited a lot of the long-standing resentment about the coup that turned KKCR from a forum for discussing community issues into primarily a music station. At the same time, the bylaws were altered so the board elects itself. The board recently voted to allow the membership to elect a few members, but that’s only a trial basis. I wrote about it in Kauai People. I also wrote a piece about the coup a while back for Honolulu Magazine, which I will try and scare up.

It’s definitely a divisive issue at the station, and it’s good to see it getting aired. One caller, who has a show of his own, said he was surprised that “our dirty laundry” was being discussed. Well, when you have a listener-supported community radio station, the dirty laundry belongs to all of us, not just those who are station insiders.

It seems Kauai’s albezia to energy project, which I wrote about in Honolulu Weekly, is also becoming a divisive issue among the alternative energy sector. While my article addressed primarily the concerns of growing albeizia, a highly invasive species, on prime ag land, there’s another aspect to the issue, and that’s the Green Energy Team’s power plant, which will burn the wood chips to produce 6.4 megawatts of energy for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. That’s one-tenth of the utility’s supply. This project, slated for land near Koloa, 1.5 miles northeast of Knudsen Gap, is a joint effort of Bill Cowern and Eric Knutzen (the county's IT director, who is not related to the Knudsen Trust, which is why his name is spelled differently).

Apparently some within Apollo Kauai and Life of the Land feel it is inappropriate that the power plant’s Environmental Assessment (it’s a big document, so it loads slowly) was given a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), and they believe a full EIS should be conducted.

I happen to agree. It seems impossible to me that building a facility that would burn “approximately 195 tons of agriculture biomass per day,” according to the EA, and use an unspecified amount of water from Koloa ditch for cooling purposes would have no environmental impacts. Additionally, it appears from the EA that Green Energy Team LLC has applied for a Covered Source Permit (CSP) from the Department of Health, in regard to air quality, but that permit has not yet been approved.

As Ken Taylor of Apollo Kauai argued in some email correspondence I was copied on, it’s important for conservation groups to be consistent in their calls for full environmental reviews — even for “green” biofuel projects. The deadline for comment on the EA Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.

Today is the solstice, the longest night, and from here on out, the light returns. It’s a good metaphoric message for all of us working toward change.


Larry said...

First, Happy Solstice to you.

My stolen car was recovered today, so I plan to enjoy a good sleep on this, the longest night of the year.

If possible, it's good to look at the contract for the EA along with the EA. If the contract contains a clause that says something about the final work product must meet the State's approval before they are paid the last part of the contract, then the work product is not independently produced (In my humble opinion) and is suspect.

If that clause is present, typically the vendor produces a "draft" final report, the State says what it thinks is unsatisfactory, and the vendor fixes it. I have seen this happen with my own eyes.

Just a thought.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks for that tip, Larry. I'll see what I can find. I'm so glad to hear you got your car back! Hope you had a good sleep.