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Monday, May 4, 2009
May 4, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:58 AM :: 7125 Views

Superferry Redux?  Worry arises with rail on fast track

...There are concerns the city is moving too quickly without final approval of its environmental impact study.

"It's disappointing and I think we're taking risks with a project that's too expensive to mess up," said City Council member Duke Bainium. "What's the rush?

"The rush, rush, rush, rush is more likely to play into the hands of those that want to stop rail right in its tracks. If you don't do it right now, you're going to pay later." ...

Council member Charles Djou acknowledged that the circumstances surrounding the Superferry and train projects aren't comparable. Still, the Superferry situation shows that an environmental impact study cannot be treated as a formality.

"I don't think the city is learning any lessons from the whole Superferry fiasco and unfortunately may be doomed to repeat it," Djou said. "The Hawai'i state Supreme Court has made it very clear that environmental review is not to be rushed. Trying to push things through without very careful and deliberate environmental review is going to get shut down by the courts. I think the lesson to be learned by the rail system from the Superferry is that you've got to do the environmental review carefully deliberately and not rush things."

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"Unprecedented" declines show the hotel industry at its lowest level in 22 years

2009  2008

Oahu
70.4%  77.4%

Kauai
64.3%  76.9%

Maui
66.9%  80.3%

Big Island
56.7%  72.1%

Statewide

Totals
66.9%  77.3%

Advertiser: Hotel occupancy in Hawaii at 22-year low

(So naturally the Leg. increases the TAT)

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UH upkeep to reach $1 billion

An updated University of Hawaii study estimates repair and maintenance costs at the system's 10 campuses will likely top $1 billion through the next 10 years, raising questions about how the university and taxpayers will pay for it.

The backlog of repairs is now estimated at $368 million, and it is projected to grow to $1.1 billion as more fixes are needed in aging buildings and inflation pushes up the cost of construction.  (This is what comes of not doing maintenance.)

"The state cannot afford it, not at this time," said House Education Chairman Rep. Jerry Chang.  (Jerry Chang is in charge of THIS?)

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Bill to allow Kahana leases could win Legislature's OK

Legislative approval on the bill will allow several qualified people to continue to stay in Kahana as part of a "living park," despite opposition from state Attorney General Mark Bennett.

Bennett said the bill is special legislation and unconstitutional.

The bill has the backing of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The agency says it supports the traditions of Kahana and a move to develop a master plan for the valley.

Some six families with more than 40 people have been seeking to secure long-term leases since last year, when the state said it did not have the authority to issue such leases and planned to evict them in October.

The evictions were delayed, pending the development of legislation to give the state the authority to issue leases.

The state condemned lands in Kahana in the late 1960s to develop an area where qualified residents of varied ethnic backgrounds could live while contributing to the care of the land.

In 1993 some 31 residents received 65-year leases with the agreement they would continue 25 hours of service a month at the park.

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SB: Energy plan good for Hawaii

Lingle announced in November that an agreement had been approved with Lockheed Martin Corp. and the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute to develop a 10-megawatt pilot plant to use the difference in temperature between the ocean's warm surface and its colder depths to generate electricity. The method has been at the laboratory stage.

Under the methodology, which Lockheed is pursuing with Kailua-based Makai Ocean Engineering, Inc., water on the ocean's surface is used to heat a pressurized liquid, usually ammonia, which boils at a temperature slightly cooler than warm seawater.

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Power plant in Pepeekeo progressing

The bioenergy company plans to convert the former coal-burning Pepeekeo power plant to produce 22 megawatts, enough juice to power 22,000 homes and meet an estimated 10 percent of the island's energy needs.
Hu Honua has also secured eucalyptus acreage to burn for fuel and is acquiring access to other lands to plant biofuel crops. The company met with the state Department of Health last week as it seeks to modify the old plant's air permit to allow for the burning of vegetation rather than coal or oil.
The plant should be operational by June 2011, McQuain said.

Hu Honua has signed a contract to use a privately-owned land for biofuel production and has struck tentative deals for two other private parcels it is trying to acquire. The company is not trying to lease state land but will keep that option open for the future, McQuain said. The company needs an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 acres for biofuel production. (That's 1/3 - 1/2 acre per household just to produce household electricity)

The status of Hamakua Biomass Energy is not quite as clear. The company has sought to lease thousands of acres of state land and planned to build a 30-megawatt power plant near Ookala as part of a larger plan to launch a forest products company.

Hawaii Electricity consumption: http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/states/electricity.cfm/state=HI  = 10,539 million kWh (10,539,000 mWh) 

(How much land would it take to provide this amount of electricity?  Somewhere between 3.5 million acres and 5 million acres give or take.  Oh yes, the total land area of the eight Hawaiian islands is 4.1 million acres.  Perhaps they will start by bulldozing the Legislature and the Supreme Court to make way for biofuel crops?)

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Project aims at health care needs

Hilo land once slated for a large residential and commercial development has been purchased by a Hilo group that wants to build medical facilities and senior housing.

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Eight Kalaupapa patients will attend Damien's canonization

Watanuki and seven other Hansen's disease patients from Kalaupapa will travel to Rome in October to witness the canonization of Father Damien, "the leper priest of Moloka'i" who ministered to the sufferers at Kalaupapa when no one else would, then died of the disease himself in 1889.

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Jail plans mental health aid

As part of an action plan to improve services for mentally ill prisoners, the state says it will hire at least a dozen people — including psychiatrists and social workers — over the coming year to help develop and oversee mental health programs at O'ahu Community Correctional Center.

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Program for social workers takes a hit

The social work program, which cost the state about $400,000 a year and trained some 15 social workers annually, is one of several cuts the state Adult Mental Health Division is making to avert a budget shortfall this fiscal year and reduce spending for next fiscal year in anticipation of less money.

The most glaring scalebacks were made in January, when reimbursable case management hours for clients were cut from three hours a day to 3 1/2 hours a month. But the state also has been trimming away at contracts to cut costs and this month terminated the program at the University of Hawai'i that trains social workers for mental health careers. The program started in 1991, and employs three specialists.

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