Showers and blustery winds kept Koko and me in bed later than usual this cool, gray, Sunday morning, which was just fine with both of us. We’re nearly always on the same wave length, which likely explains the absence of friction in our relationship.
A major source of friction in the Islands is now on its way back to its birthplace in Mobile, Ala., leaving in its wake the usual long comment thread alternately bemoaning the influence of special interest groups (which for some reason are always identified as environmentalists, rather than more aptly as political power brokers) and bidding bon voyage to the barf barge.
Guess we won’t have the Superferry to kick around for a while, but there’s still Lingle and her team at DOT, who have yet to fully inform us, to borrow the words of a Big Audio Dynamite song, why did it happen and who is to blame?
The question now is, will it be back? I guess that depends on what sort of lucrative contract it can get elsewhere, or whether the military is looking to lease a couple of prototype JHSVs while waiting for Austal to deliver the rest.
A friend suggested that maybe the state could sell the Superferry "improvements" at Nawiliwili Harbor on E-bay: Big ramp only used twice.
Meanwhile, DOT is doggedly pursuing the EIS it should have done years ago, saying it could be pau by the end of the year. But it’s still unclear whether it will be a full and complete EIS, or simply a souped-up version of the faux EIS allowed under the now discredited Act 2.
Changing course, three candidates advocating alternative energy (and no, I’m not talking nuclear) managed to squeeze their way on to the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board of directors. In an article in today’s Garden Island, the two that were interviewed sounded full of hope and enthusiasm. Of course, they haven’t actually sat down with the rest of the Board yet….
While it's good to get some fresh air in that closed room, I was a little concerned about comments made by Steve Rapozo, one of the newly elected KIUC members:
Rapozo hopes to see a solar farm on the Westside, wind farms in south and north central Kaua‘i, as well as updated hydro plants.
“If we can’t complete this in the three years, then at least to have it be in the works with some kind of master plan,” he said.
Let’s hope he’s not talking about resurrecting the Wailua hydro project, or he’s going to run into some serious opposition. We need to be talking about putting more water back in the streams, not diverting it for hydro.
As for wind farms, why in the world would we want to clutter up our beautiful landscape with those ugly structures? And worse, why would we want to create yet another death trap for endangered birds?
As the Star-Bulletin reported:
Developers of the first wind farm on Maui want to expand, adding a 21-megawatt sister facility, despite some endangered bird species found dead at the existing site.
Carcasses of two adult nene birds and a Hawaiian petrel were found at the existing wind power site between July 1, 2007, and June 30, according to Kaheawa Wind Power report.
A dead Hawaiian hoary bat was found at the site in September, according to federal officials. The deaths were within the numbers allowed for "incidental take" under a state Department of Land and Natural Resources permit.
"We're well within the take limit," [Kaheawa spokeswoman Noe] Kalipi said.
The state license to Kaheawa Wind Power allows up to 60 dead nene during a 20-year period and 40 for the Hawaiian petrel.
The wind venture also has authorization for incidental take of up to 40 'a'o, or Newell's shearwater, and up to 20 Hawaiian hoary bats during a 20-year period.
It seems strange that these “take limits” can be set for species like the Newell’s shearwater, bat and Hawaiian petrel, when we don’t even have have an accurate sense of their total numbers. Newell’s seem to be steadily declining on Kauai, and the population is even smaller on Maui. Nene are being successfully bred in captivy, but even so, their numbers aren’t robust.
And when you start adding in wind farms elsewhere around the state, will the allowable carnage be figured cumulatively, or just project by project?
But mostly I’m wondering, if the Maui wind farm hits its allowable take in 10 years, what’s the likelihood it will shut down? The feds have been trying for years to hold KIUC’s feet to the fire to reduce its Newell’s take, and aside from throwing some money toward picking up downed birds, KIUC hasn't dealt with the problem at its source by undergrounding utility wires in fly zones.
While it’s obvious we need to move away from our near total dependence on foreign oil, it seems that conservation hasn’t been emphasized nearly enough.
Embracing alternatives is tempting and trendy, but if we’re going to end up killing wildlife or making people sick and stressed just because we’re too lazy to hang clothes on the line or too spoiled to turn off the AC, well, that just doesn’t seem very “green” to me.