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Saturday, March 12, 2022
March 12, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:24 PM :: 1547 Views

Blangiardi meets with FTA to discuss Honolulu Rail Project

Halftime at the Legislature--What's Hot, and Not, in Tax

Jones Act waiver request for fuel imports goes national

VIDEO: Grassroot Institute Celebrates 20 Years

DoH Declares Navy Water Safe in More Areas

Applicants Sought to Fill Vacancies on the Disciplinary Board of the Hawaii Supreme Court

Hawaii Workforce Shrinks--Unemployment 4.4% for January

Stars Align for Hawaii Jones Act Waiver?

SA: … U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, this week asked President Joe Biden to grant a waiver from the federal Jones Act to allow Hawaii to more easily import oil and gas products from mainland ports after Biden signed an executive order banning Russian energy imports. Also, Case authored a bill to give the state a standing waiver for future bans and shortages….

On Thursday, Hawaiian Electric warned that due to rising oil prices and Russia sanctions, in coming months residential customers will see a price hike of about 10% on Oahu and 20% on Hawaii island and in Maui County….

“The best replacement for Russian oil imports to Hawaii is domestic supply, and the transport of that supply 2,500 miles to our remote island state is subject to the Jones Act requiring any such transport to occur exclusively on a very limited number of domestic vessels.”

Case continued, “As a result, the costs of such shipping, even if it were available domestically to start with, would be higher by a number of multiples than transport on the plethora of non-U.S. flagged specialty vessels. These costs would be passed on in price increases that are already among the highest in our country and would directly affect our national defense headquartered in Hawaii, our economy, and our communities.”…

said Malia Hill, policy director at the nonprofit Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “It’s had the paradoxical effect of making Hawaii way more vulnerable, because we have to rely on foreign fuel.”

With relatively few Jones Act-compliant tanker vessels available to bring fuel between U.S. ports, Hawaii has relied on foreign tankers working in the Pacific and Indian oceans, which cannot legally pick up oil from American ports and can only deliver oil from overseas.

“The majority of the oil we bring in is from international markets because of just the practicalities of it,” said Hill.

The only oil refinery in Hawaii is operated by Par Hawaii Refining LLC. Before the Russian oil ban was announced, Par Hawaii’s parent company, Par Pacific, announced it would voluntarily cease buying Russian oil. Par executives have said they’re looking for alternative oil sources and maintain they do not expect Hawaii to suffer disruptions….

In 2019 the majority of imported crude oil to Hawaii came from Libya (57%), followed by Russia (34%). But in 2020, Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar seized oil fields in the country with the help of Russian Wagner Group mercenaries, disrupting global markets.

That year Libya provided only 16% of Hawaii’s oil, while Russia remained at 34%, becoming Hawaii’s top overall source for 2020. The disruption forced Par to turn to other sources, including the war-torn Republic of Congo and others, to make up the difference for Hawaii’s needs.

Under the Jones Act the White House has the authority to approve waivers. In 2017 then-President Donald Trump temporarily waived restrictions to allow aid to be shipped to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. And in May, Biden issued a waiver allowing foreign tankers to transport fuel between East Coast ports after a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline caused serious supply disruptions.

Retired Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said that an exemption for fuel could be sensible for Hawaii, particularly if using foreign tankers would make it easier to access domestic products.

The retired admiral was the incident commander during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, during which he asked for an exemption to get hold of specialty vessels to support the relief effort.

“There’s big difference between an exemption and an outright repeal because then, the whole house of cards comes down with our maritime industry,” said Zukunft….

with the Jones Act, the American shipping and shipbuilding industries have been struggling. According to a 2019 report by the Congressional Research Service, the number of U.S.-flagged oceangoing ships steadily declined to 87 from 257 during the 35 years spanning 1980 to 2015. However, between 2015 and 2018 the count went up to 99.

A 2009 National Defense University report comparing U.S. shipbuilders to those in Asia found that Asian shipyards offered lower prices, were more efficient and had higher industry best‐​practice ratings than American ones. Another NDU report, in 2016, asserted that U.S. shipbuilding is an average of 20 years behind international shipyards in regard to use of advanced technology.

Hill said, “The world has changed, trade has changed, the industry has changed in the last hundred years or so.” She added, “It makes sense to recognize those facts and update the Jones Act to reflect them.”…

Related: Case Asks Biden to Waive Jones Act to Ship US Oil to Hawaii

Related: Jones Act waiver request for fuel imports goes national

read … U.S. Rep. Ed Case asks for Jones Act waiver for Hawaii

Let’s Not Die on Red Hill

RCD: … Red Hill has been leaking for years due to crumbling infrastructure. Yet the problem at this important Navy underground fuel storage facility in Hawaii went unaddressed for years. Now, it threatens the island’s major aquifer, forcing the government’s hand. 

Sadly, the government has reacted in a typical knee-jerk fashion. We must do better to deal with all the dangers involved. 

The facility now poses a serious health risk. But there is more at stake than drinking water. Red Hill plays a critical part in meeting the logistic needs of the Navy. It is where we store the fuels that keep the Pacific Fleet sailing. This critical military asset looms even more important as war rages in Europe and tensions with China grow. The nation needs a smart solution that addresses the health concerns of those living on the island without endangering national security. …

on May 7, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered that the World War II era facility be emptied and abandoned within a year. He set a May 31 deadline for coming up with a plan that would assure the safety of Hawaii’s drinking water without jeopardizing the fleet’s ability to serve its vital security mission. 

The Defense Department has released a fact sheet giving some clues on what this plan may look like. The key appears to be distributing fuel storage among various commercial sites (assumed to be in Hawaii) and tankers.

Tankers can provide a viable and mobile option, but their use raises several questions. Where will the tankers load and where will they transfer fuel to the warships? Will these tankers be newly acquired and crewed or drawn from an already inadequate fleet of commercial ready reserve vessels

(NOTE: Inadequate US commercial tankers thanks to the Jones Act.)

Lots of details need to be worked out to ensure the Navy remains ready amidst a rapidly worsening security environment. It seems quite doubtful that relying on tankers alone can address the logistic needs of the Pacific Fleet. Moreover, the fact sheet did not address the need for secure drinking water in Hawaii.

And therein lies the problem. We have set a deadline for closing Red Hill without conditioning that on having a viable and proven alternative in place. That is dangerous. A more prudent course of action would have been to set a deadline for providing an alternative water source in Hawaii and a Red Hill replacement. …

read … Let’s Not Die on Red Hill

Maui: New Police Chief Pushes out old guard

MN: … Holokai, Uedoi and Hankins, whose combined years of service totaled nearly 90 years, said they had planned to continue working and had been willing to give the new chief a chance. They said they were speaking up for current officers who are afraid of repercussions.

At a command staff meeting at the Wailuku Police Station on Dec. 17, two days after Pelletier was sworn in, he said he wanted to “invest in our people, our most precious resource.”

Then Pelletier went on to say, “So, let me make it real clear. I’m the administration. We know this, OK. You all are the administration through me … ,” according to a recording of the meeting provided to The Maui News.

“I’m giving everybody in this room a lawful order,” Pelletier said. “You have to support the administration. You have to, OK. I will not tolerate insubordination. I understand where it falls in codes of conduct and I understand how severe it can be. And anybody that is grossly insubordinate will not leave in good standing. I will not have it. I just won’t. I will not have individuals or groups undermining the administration.

“That’s all I’m going to say on it. I think everybody knows exactly what I’m saying. But please do not be the one I make the example of first because I will fillet the first one. And then everybody will understand very quickly what I mean.”. …

An officer who isn’t in good standing when leaving MPD wouldn’t receive full retirement and credit for unused sick leave, Holokai said.

At the same meeting, Pelletier reassigned all but one of nine captains. Uedoi, a 29-year veteran, was moved from heading the Internal Affairs Section to the Molokai Patrol Division.

When Uedoi said he disagreed with his assignment, Pelletier responded, “I don’t care”….

read … Retiring officers fear changes are lowering MPD standards

Ige Appoints Utilities Insider to Chair PUC

CB: ... Gov. David Ige has selected Naomi Kuwaye, a Honolulu attorney who specializes in utilities law, to succeed Jay Griffin as chairman of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission when Griffin’s term expires June 30, 2022, the governor announced Friday.

If Kuwaye is confirmed by the Hawaii Senate, her term will run from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2028. Griffin has said he will step down at the end of his term, which ends on June 30.

Kuwaye is now an attorney at Ashford & Wriston, LLP, where she has worked since 2012. According to her law firm profile, she specializes in environmental and natural resource law, public utilities, and administrative law: areas frequently at the heart of cases that come before the commission, as Hawaii adopts an energy policy aimed to wean itself from fossil fuels to produce electricity by 2045.

Kuwaye’s experience as a lawyer practicing before the commission includes representing “a $16 billion dollar renewable energy company in one of Hawaii’s largest energy dockets,” her profile says…. 

read … Ige Appoints Utilities Lawyer To Chair Utilities Commission

15% pay raises granted for Maui County directors and deputies

MN: … The Maui County Salary Commission voted Friday to give county directors and deputy directors 5 percent raises, starting in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Directors and deputies also will receive 5 percent raises in each of the two years that follow, except in the Fire and Public Safety Department, Police Department, Department of the Prosecuting Attorney and Department of Corporation Counsel.

Commissioners said they would do more review of salaries for those department heads. “Those four have unique circumstances,” Commissioner Grant Nakama said.

“We’re going to have to look deeper into how we’re going to make those increases without breaking the county budget,” said Commissioner Ed Misaki.

The commission also voted Friday to set the annual salaries for the director and deputy director of the newly created Department of Agriculture at $90,000 and $70,000, respectively.  Five of the nine commissioners voted in favor of the amounts, which are less than the $126,386 and $113,747 that would have aligned the salaries with those of the director and deputy director of the Department of Transportation, as recommended in a letter from Managing Director Sandy Baz….

read … Five percent pay raises granted for county directors and deputies

400 acres of major Lahaina project Villages of Leialiʻi offered to DHHL

MN: … State owners of a major Lahaina development called Villages of Leialiʻi recently offered to transfer for free about 400 acres of the project’s land to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. 

Although transfer approval and future plans for the land will have to be ironed out by DHHL, the proposal was praised Thursday during a Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. meeting. …

Villages of Leialiʻi is a Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. master planned community on 1,128 acres of state-owned land in Lahaina, located mauka Lahaina Civic Center and divided by a long swath of Lahaina Bypass Highway. …

read … 400 acres of major Lahaina project Villages of Leialiʻi offered to DHHL

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