Energy and Environment Blog

From Mauka to Makai

The BeatEnergy and Environment Blog

Hawaii’s Tuna Fishing Limits Challenged

A federal lawsuit wants to limit how many more bigeye tuna Hawaii's longline fleet can catch this year.

·By Nick Grube

Hawaii’s holiday sashimi could be in short supply this year if conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, get their way in a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday.

The organizations argue the National Marine Fisheries Services violated an international agreement to end overfishing of bigeye tuna when the agency announced Hawaii longliners could exceed their annual catch quota by using unmet allotments from other parts of the Pacific.

Hawaii’s bigeye tuna catch is the subject of a new lawsuit filed by conservation groups.

Nick Grube/Civil Beat

Civil Beat first reported on

The BeatEnergy and Environment Blog

Nonprofits Appeal Court Decision That Killed Kauai Anti-GMO Law

The Kauai County Council set aside $12,750 for the appeal last week.

·By Anita Hofschneider

Four nonprofit groups are appealing a federal court decision that overturned Kauai County’s highly debated anti-GMO law.

The Kauai County Council also approved up to $12,750 for the appeal last week.

Bill 2491, also known as Ordinance 960, required large agricultural companies to share details about their use of restricted pesticides, respect buffer zones when spraying pesticides, and disclose their cultivation of genetically modified crops.

A federal judge struck down the law last month, concluding that the county doesn’t have the right to regulate pesticides and genetically engineered crops.

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho

·By Sophie Cocke

Hawaiian Electric Co. is asking its Oahu customers to cut back on their air conditioners, limit hot showers, dishwashing and and cooking to avoid power outages this evening.

The hot, muggy weather, light winds and a downed power plant have contributed to heightened demand and decreased power supply, according to a HECO press release. A power plant owned by Kalaeloa Partners is out of service due to “unexpected repairs” and Oahu’s wind farms aren’t generating a lot of energy because of the low winds.

Customers are being asked to conserve energy between the hours

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Is Whole Foods Profiteering on Anti-GMO Fears?

A journalist writing for the Daily Beast suggests the health food market chain has cynical motives.

·By Eric Pape

Are Whole Foods Markets cynically playing on the ignorance of anti-GMO consumers to maximize the company’s profits? That’s the core question raised by journalist Michael Schulson in his Sept. 15 article, “Whole Foods’ Anti-GMO Swindle.”

Schulson’s logic, laid out in the Daily Beast, is that the small “Non-GMO Project Verified” labels found on many products for sale in Whole Foods’ pricey stores are there to cash in on fear, rather than to protect consumers.

He describes what he sees as a sort of collusion of interests between Whole Foods, other health food

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Report: GMO Labeling Opponents Triple Spending

Monsanto, Du Pont, others devote millions of dollars toward lobbying.

·By Nathan Eagle

Groceries, food makers and biotech companies opposed to laws that would require genetically modified products to be labeled have spent far more money lobbying this year than in 2013.

Reuters has reported that the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, DuPont, Coca-Cola and others opposed to mandatory labeling spent $27.5 million during the first six months of 2014, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that supports GMO labeling. That’s up from $9.3 million in all of 2013.

Groups who support GMO labeling have disclosed spending $1.9 million in lobbying expenses

·By Sophie Cocke

Hawaiian Electric Co. is warning customers on Oahu who have hooked up solar systems to its grid without the utility’s approval to shut them down or utility workers will.

“After sufficient notice, if a customer does not disconnect the PV system and notify Hawaiian Electric, PUC rules give the utility authority to shut off the system and lock it to prevent interconnection until technical and other checks confirm it is safe,” according to a HECO press release. “Regular electric service will continue for customers with locked-out PV systems.”

The utility doesn’t have an estimate on

·By Nathan Eagle

A new lava flow on the Big Island has spurred Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie to sign an emergency proclamation.

The lava, which is coming from vents that opened in June, is expected to reach the boundary of the Kaohe Homesteads as soon as Tuesday. If it continues to flow east-northeast, it will eventually cross Highway 130.

County officials have identified two abandoned roads — Railroad Avenue and Government Beach Road — to be improved and used as alternate routes should access be cut off by the lava flow.

The lava flow

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Food Industry Leverages Hawaii Court Ruling in Vermont GMO Labeling Fight

The Grocery Manufacturers Association cited an Aug. 22 decision by Judge Kurren blocking the Center for Food Safety from defending Hawaii County's GMO farming ban.

·By Anita Hofschneider

Opponents of Vermont’s new GMO labeling law are citing a recent federal court ruling in Hawaii to try to block the Center for Food Safety from helping to defend Vermont, Politico reported Wednesday.

On Aug. 22, Judge Barry Kurren denied the Center for Food Safety’s request to intervene on behalf of Hawaii County to defend the county’s new partial ban on genetically engineered crops. The Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association and several other farming groups sued the county in June saying that the law was unfair and burdensome.

Politico reported that just

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Ban Ki-Moon Sails on Hokulea, Hikianalia

UN secretary general pays visit to historic vessels in Apia, Samoa.

·By Chad Blair

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sailed aboard Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia in Apia Harbor, Samoa yesterday.

According to a press release from the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the UN leader joined the worldwide voyaging crew along with artist Wyland and Blue Planet founder Henk Rogers.

“Hōkūle’a, our voyaging canoe, threads together stories of hope as she voyages across the world’s oceans,” said Nainoa Thompson, president and master navigator of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. “We are inspired that His Excellency Ban Ki-moon and island leaders are coming together on Hōkūle’a’s deck around shared values of

·By Anita Hofschneider

The Maui County Clerk has released the wording of a ballot initiative that would ban genetically engineered crops, and it appears no one is happy with it.

A group called Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban says the title is confusing and wants it to be corrected.

“The ballot title as presently phrased is misleading and deceptive toward both proponents and opponents equally,” said the group’s spokesman, Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez in a statement.

Asked if the organization would consider filing a lawsuit over the wording, the group’s field coordinator Doug Gray said in an email, “Citizens

·By Nathan Eagle

The feds have decided that no corals in Hawaiian waters are worth protecting under the Endangered Species Act at this point.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday that 20 new corals will be listed as threatened, but they are all found in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific.

The original petition, filed in 2009 by the Center for Biological Diversity, sought protections for 83 reef-building corals — nine of which are found in Hawaii.

Coral on the north shore of Oahu, August 2014.

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‘If You’re the Bad Guy, Everybody Needs to Know’

Hawaii Environmental Council talking invasive species, climate change at annual planning meeting.

·By Nathan Eagle

Glenn Teves, the longtime University of Hawaii agriculture extension agent on Molokai, is tired of everyone being so nice.

“If you’re the bad guy, everybody needs to know,” he said. “The nursery industry is the bad guy.”

Teves is part of the Hawaii Environmental Council, a 15-member group (minus four vacancies) that was holding its annual strategic planning meeting Thursday at the Capitol.

A stream runs through a forest on Kauai. The Hawaii Environmental Council held their annual planning meeting Thursday, discussing ways to protect native ecosystems.

The