Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hawaii refinery closure raises fuel concerns, Dems seek applicants for Maui House seat, corrections officer files whistleblower lawsuit, Kauai solar a no-go, Honolulu trims drivers license wait time, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Tesoro corporate image
Tesoro Hawaii refinery, corporate image
The impending closure of one of Hawaii’s two oil refineries is bolstering calls from energy experts and state officials to diversify Hawaii’s energy sources and wean the state off of its near total dependence on imported oil. Civil Beat.

Tesoro Corp.’s Hawaii refinery in Kapolei, the largest of the two oil refineries in the state with a capacity of 94,000 barrels a day, is closing its refining operations in April and will convert it to an import, storage and distribution terminal. Pacific Business News.

Most energy experts Hawaii News Now spoke with Tuesday said they do not expect the price of gas at the pump in Hawaii to jump because of the shutdown of Tesoro's refinery in Kapolei. Hawaii News Now.

The refinery shutdown means Hawaii will be more fuel dependent on outside markets but experts say there is no need to worry over added pain at the pump. KHON2.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz plans to meet next week with former Gov. John Waihee, chairman of the state Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, to develop a strategy on how to continue the state delegation's pursuit of federal recognition of Native Hawaiians. Star-Advertiser.

At least one local health insurance plan for state and county workers offered through the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) violated provisions of federal law for an unspecified period by limiting access to outpatient mental health services, according to a case summary published in the 2011-2012 annual report of the Office of the Ombudsman. Civil Beat.

A little over a year after the state announced a comprehensive initiative to tackle bullying in schools, Department of Education officials say they have made progress — but that there's still much more to do. Star-Advertiser.

Education leaders are facing a tough assignment. Despite an anti-bullying campaign in Hawaii schools, bullying and harassment cases went up during the 2011- 2012 school year. Hawaii News Now.

State roundup for January 9. Associated Press.

Oahu

Help is on the way for those stuck in line waiting for a state identification card or driver's license. The city is hiring seven part-time people on a temporary basis to help deal with the influx of people showing up at Oahu's five licensing offices, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

The DMV hasn't had the best reputation for efficiency.  Now wait times in Honolulu are even worse because the City is processing drivers licenses and state identification cards and the lines have been painfully long. Hawaii News Now.

The state plans to add more lanes to a large portion of the H-1 Freeway and possibly to a major road in Leeward Oahu. This comes at a time when Honolulu has been named one of the most traffic-congested cities. KHON2.

The Honolulu District Court is functioning although its four elevators still are not. Star-Advertiser.

The Chinatown Business and Community Association is trying to rally more support for an alcohol ban during street parties, like First Friday events. KITV4.

A Circuit Court jury will resume deliberations today on whether to award about $14 million to a 79-year-old man who was paralyzed in a fall of 15 to 20 feet from the elevated first tee late at night at the Mid-Pacific Country Club. Star-Advertiser.

HPD K-9 gets Kevlar vest protection. KITV4.

Hawaii

The County Council’s Finance Committee gave its support Tuesday to a proposal that would add composting to its green waste operation, currently limited to recycling yard clippings for mulch. Tribune-Herald.

The county is looking to expand its green waste program to provide an improved product for the public – but at a price. Big Island Now.

Schatz to ‘work very hard’ for Saddle Rd. funding. West Hawaii Today.

As the nation debates whether armed guards are necessary on school premises in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Hawaii school and police officials are continuing their assessments of security protocols and procedures. Tribune-Herald.

Department of Land and Natural Resources officials don’t yet know when their governing board will consider a package of proposed rule changes for West Hawaii’s waters. West Hawaii Today.

The new Hawaii County Council is having its first meetings of the year today and tomorrow in Hilo. Hawaii Public Radio.

Two public hearings have been scheduled this month regarding a plan to re-open the Kulani Correctional Facility. Hawaii News Now.

Maui

Those interested in filling the District 9 state House seat vacated by Democrat Gil Keith-Agaran have until noon Friday to apply for the spot. Maui News.

The Maui County Democratic Party is now accepting applications from individuals interested in filling the District 9 state House vacancy created by the governor’s appointment of Gil Keith-Agaran to the state Senate. Maui Now.

A Maui Community Correctional Center jail guard has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the state Department of Public Safety, alleging retaliation when he made complaints that a jail sergeant used an inmate work crew to do landscaping for his private business. Maui News.

$6 million in state funding has been released for the construction of part of the new Kahului Airport Access Road. The funds cover a portion of the road from Puunene Avenue to the Hana Highway. Maui Now.

Nearly a year after public discussion about the urgent need for a major overhaul of Kahului Airport's 71-year-old, 7,000-foot main runway, state Department of Transportation officials remain undecided about which repair option to choose and how long Maui's air overseas lifeline would need to be closed, if at all. Maui News.

Kauai

Poipu Solar LLC’s 3-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility on Kauai’s South Shore is not happening, a source told PBN. Pacific Business News.

The University of Hawai‘i hosted a Community Forum at Kaua‘i Community College Monday with President M.R.C. Greenwood. Garden Island.

Permits for Hanalei’s new building deferred. Differing opinions on ‘what is rural’ stall decision at Planning Commission meeting. Garden Island.

The Kaua‘i Planning Commission unanimously approved Commissioner Wayne Katayama to preside as chair of the volunteer group during 2013 in its first meeting of the year. Garden Island.