Monday, November 16, 2015

Ige seeks EPA waiver on pollutants, Caldwell fund-raises in Washington while on city trip, prevailing wage rule snarls rail work, Maui cemetery work halted, groups want NextEra-Hawaiian Electric documents published, state issues media guidelines for Mauna Kea, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Ige 2015 Japan trip
Gov. Ige and Mrs. Ige briefed by on-site engineer of the Tidal Power Plant, courtesy photo
Gov. David Ige is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to postpone or waive new regulations that restrict the amount of mercury and other toxic pollutants that Hawaii’s power plants can release into the air, arguing that the rules will distract from Hawaii’s push to convert to clean energy. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige returned Thursday from his second official trip to Asia, where he continued to promote tourism, intercultural student exchange and collaboration on renewable-energy technology. Star-Advertiser.

Sierra Club, Friends of Lanai and other groups are calling on the state Public Utilities Commission to post online the transcripts of the upcoming 12-day evidentiary hearing on the proposed $4.3 billion sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to NextEra Energy. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Co. has unveiled new voluntary time-of-use rates for residential customers aimed at encouraging the use of power during times when solar and wind resources are most productive, the Honolulu-based utility said Friday. Pacific Business News.

Several key lawmakers said they plan to introduce legislation in the coming session to address concerns about the state’s oversight of physicians and other licensed professionals. Star-Advertiser.

Carleton Ching has a new job, just not the one he had been expecting earlier this year. Ching will take the position of director of land development for the University of Hawaii on Nov. 30, the university announced Friday. Civil Beat.

Carleton Ching has been selected as the director of Land Development for the University of Hawaii. His appointment will be effective on Nov. 30. Garden Island.

In response to protests against the Na‘i Aupuni election for Native Hawaiian self-governance, the nonprofit organizing the voting process is emphasizing that the end result is not predetermined. Garden Island.

Pidgin, the local lingua franca that emerged so the people of many different ethnicities who toiled on sugar plantations could converse with each other, now is recognized as one of Hawaii’s official languages by the U.S. Census Bureau. Tribune-Herald.

It seems like someone flipped the storm off-switch in the Central and Eastern Pacific basins. However, meteorologists say, the threat of a hurricane could be far from over despite the season’s ending slated for Nov. 30. West Hawaii Today.

Oahu

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit has encountered other complications in its dealings with Hawaiian Electric Co., beyond the 50-foot clearance requirement: HECO’s union contract with its employees does not meet the requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that laborers and mechanics on federally funded construction projects must be paid the prevailing local wage. Star-Advertiser.

The “most significant risk” today to Honolulu’s rail project is a complex knot of technical challenges involving power lines along the transit route that could dramatically increase costs and delay the project, according to an outside consultant that monitors the project for the federal government. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says $250 million out of $1.5 billion dollars will not be given to the project until the Honolulu City Council approves the general excise tax surcharge extension. But KHON2 found out the rail meeting wasn’t the only thing on his agenda during his trip to Washington, D.C.

Only a few tents and shacks are visible from the dirt parking lot that borders the Waianae Boat Harbor, where more than 200 people have found a relatively undisturbed refuge on the rocky edge of the Leeward Coast. The true size of Oahu’s oldest and now largest homeless encampment is obscured by a heavy cover of overgrown kiawe trees and thick underbrush. Civil Beat.

Plans are advancing to improve a major road in Kalaeloa. An agreement would transfer a portion of Franklin D. Roosevelt Avenue from the state Department of Transportation to the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which would be tasked to improve the road based on the city’s standards. Roosevelt Avenue from West Perimeter Road to Enterprise Street would then be dedicated to the city upon completion of the improvements. Star-Advertiser.

City and state officials are making efforts to extend traffic camera coverage past Kapolei as residents call for solutions to the traffic backlog on Farrington Highway in Waianae. Star-Advertiser.

Voting is open for the representatives running for the Maunalua Bay Recreation Advisory Committee. KITV4.

Hawaii

A new hospital or free-standing emergency facility in North Kona, more programs for the homeless and a hard look at alternative ways to structure the state’s utilities — those are just some of the plans West Hawaii lawmakers will discuss at a legislative outlook to be held in Kailua-Kona Thursday. West Hawaii Today.

There are hundreds of acres of state land just across the highway above Kona International Airport that would make a convenient home for a new Kona hospital — one which could serve a teaching function. That’s according to Naalehu Rep. Richard Creagan, a retired physician who says he has the support of House leadership for pursuing the funds it would take to build such a facility. West Hawaii Today.

Two West Hawaii lawmakers are taking the state Department of Health to task for saying it is beyond the agency’s purview to launch mobile dengue testing units that could go deep into rural areas and ferret out the disease. West Hawaii Today.

The state Dept. of Health confirmed on Saturday, Nov. 14, that there were 49 cases of dengue fever on Hawaii Island, up 11 from Friday, Nov. 13. KHON2.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is conducting aerial eradication of feral ungulates in four Maui state forest reserves — and that’s making some hunters on the Big Island and Maui uneasy. Tribune-Herald.

State Issues New Guidelines On Media’s Mauna Kea Access. The Department of Land and Natural Resources says it wants to keep everyone safe, but some First Amendment advocates worry the guidelines go too far. Civil Beat.

Maui Pacific Solar installed a 100-kilowatt, $376,000 photovoltaic project at the Gemini Observatory atop Mauna Kea in early September, a project that took about six weeks to complete, according to an announcement from the observatory. Maui News.

Hilo isn’t the only county recycling facility experiencing overflows as Big Island residents increasingly embrace recycling rather than landfilling their waste. West Hawaii Today.

Board members for a neighborhood association in North Kona’s Nalani Street subdivision have become a mini-water department, reading the single meter and allotting shares of the bill to residents in some 30 homes. They’re also the collections department, collecting the checks and making sure everyone pays his or her fair share. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Construction work at the Maui Veterans Cemetery has come to a halt after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was found to be noncompliant with federal historic preservation laws, a state attorney said. Maui News.

The Maui County Liquor Control Commission will go through the formal selection process to find the next director of the Department of Liquor Control. Maui News.

Maui candidates vying for three seats to a constitutional convention to draft a document allowing Native Hawaiians to govern themselves spoke about their vision and skills to about 50 people Wednesday night at the Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center. Maui News.

The Maui Department of Public Works will be closing down a portion of Central Avenue in Wailuku for one day only on Nov. 23, 2015. The repairs are slated for Central Avenue between Loke and North streets. Maui Now.

Kauai

Driving in Kauai is a challenge, that’s no secret — and the county’s transportation department wants to hear your ideas for solutions in a series of open-house meetings it’s holding this week. Garden Island.