New Hawaii Water Commissioner Withdraws Amid Controversy

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The president of Young Brothers is withdrawing from the state water commission a day before he was supposed to show up for his first meeting.

Glenn Hong is the head of Hawaii’s largest shipping company and a prominent member of the local business community. “We are so far out in the middle of the ocean and away from other sources. Without clean water, we are going to be in a lot of trouble,” he told Civil Beat Monday.

But that was before Hong found himself in the middle of a political maelstrom that swept through the environmental community and Native Hawaiian groups who were caught off guard by Gov. Neil Abercrombie's appointment.

The Commission on Water Resource Management, formed in 1987, has a highly charged political history, and many people have been closely watching the appointment process. The fight over water has been intense among developers, large plantation owners, environmentalists, the military and Native Hawaiian groups.

Because of the historical and legal complexity of the issues involving water rights, the law requires that commissioners, who are in charge of enforcing the state water code, have significant experience with water resource management.

The position has been vacant for more than a year and has been the subject of much speculation and criticism over how Abercrombie has gone about filling it.

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