Beyond Kona Climate Feed

CODE RED for HUMANITY; Climate Alert!

July was world’s hottest month ever recorded, US scientists confirm

Global land and ocean surface temperature last month was 0.9C hotter than 20th-century average, beating July 2016 record.  July was the world’s hottest month ever recorded, US government scientists have confirmed, a further indication of the unfolding climate crisis that is now affecting almost every part of the planet.

Confirmation of the record July heat follows the release of a landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Monday which found that humans’ burning of fossil fuels has “unequivocally” heated up the planet to temperatures not seen on Earth in around 125,000 years.

This behavior is pushing the world towards dangerous climate breakdown that can only be averted by deep and rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

Spinrad said that IPCC report “confirms the impacts are widespread and rapidly intensifying.”


United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has just proclaimed “a Code Red for humanity.”

The unequivocal consensus of the world’s top climate scientists—unveiled in a landmark report Monday—is that not only are humans responsible for the catastrophes befalling the atmosphere, the oceans, the ice packs and the forests, but that without drastic moves by the planet’s leaders to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution, things are going to get a lot worse, and quite soon.

The assessment from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the crucial warming threshold of 2°C will be “exceeded during the 21st century” makes the Paris climate accord, its warnings and goals seem like sunny optimism by comparison.

Other findings? The past decade was most likely hotter than any period in the last 125,000 years (when sea levels were up to 10 meters higher) and combustion and deforestation have raised CO2 in the atmosphere higher than it’s been in two million years. “This report,” Guterres warned the world, “must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels before they destroy our planet.” 

Climiate Heat Spikes 2


Here are five key takeaways from the IPCC climate changing report:

1. The last decade was hotter than any period in 125,000 years.

Not only that but atmospheric CO₂ is now at a two million-year peak. Consuming fossil fuels has combined with agriculture to push methane and nitrous oxide—also greenhouse gases—to records for at least the last 800,000 years.

All the greenhouse gases have elevated the global average temperature by about 1.1° Celsius above the late 19th century average. In fact, humans have already dumped enough greenhouse gas into the atmosphere to heat up the planet by 1.5°C—one of the goals set by the Paris Agreement—but fine-particle pollution from fossil fuels is masking it by providing a cooling effect — a twisted logic of pollute the planet to save the planet.

For man-made climate change deniers, the scientific findings confirmed what many people already knew, that is that the combined contribution to global warming by so-called natural factors, such as the sun and volcanoes, is now estimated to be close-to-zero in raising the planet’s temperature.

 2. Scientists can now link specific weather events to human-made climate change.

This hasn’t always been the case. A recently as 20 years ago, for instance, it was virtually impossible to attribute any particular storm or temperature spike to the warming world. But the climate science profession has seen entire specialties emerge and mature since the IPCC’s previous mega-report in 2013.

No field is more resonant than the ability to analyze extreme weather events in real-time to determine what role climate change is playing. The deadly heat wave that gripped the western coast of North America in June had detectable evidence of human responsibility—and that determination came quickly. World Weather Attribution, an international research group, needed just days after the heat broke to conclude that the extraordinary temperatures would be “virtually impossible” without climate change.

3. Scientists have narrowed the estimated range for how temperatures respond to greenhouse-gas emissions.

This one is a milestone in the field of climate sensitivity that’s taken four decades. Drawing from research on ancient climates, as well as advanced satellite technology that monitors clouds and emissions, new models have narrowed the projections of the atmosphere’s likely response to industrial emissions. That allowed the IPCC authors to focus their temperature projections for the rest of the century, giving humanity a clearer picture of what may lie in store if we don’t act quickly to curtail emissions.

The Earth’s response to a theoretical doubling of preindustrial CO₂ levels is now thought to be between 2.5°C to 4°C—a much smaller range than 1.5°C to 4.5°C in previous IPCC reports. These findings rule out the possibility that unrestricted emissions will have only a mild effect on global temperatures, a hope very few observers of events in recent months could cling to. But the narrower range also provides powerful evidence of the world’s best pathway to safety: swiftly ending the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

4. The Earth rewards good behavior.

Almost as soon as emissions cease, heating will cease and temperatures will stabilize in a couple of decades. But some effects—such as sea-level rise—will remain irreversible for centuries. It’s a race between the avoidable and unavoidable, and humanity is behind.

Scientists broke new ground in this IPCC report by projecting what happens when our emissions get to zero. As the world reduces its use of fossil fuels, for instance, the cooling effect of aerosols will start to decline. The scientists are confident that one way to counter that decline would be to pursue “strong, rapid and sustained reductions” in methane emissions. Beyond CO₂, methane, and nitrous oxide, there are four other greenhouse gases that also provide opportunities to slow warming.

Climate Path To Recovery1

 

 5. The IPCC’s volunteer scientists build consensus with all UN governments before releasing this report. 

Sometimes it’s a fight. But unanimous agreement among the nations of the world, who all must affirm that the findings are summarized accurately, is a very powerful tool. It’s what makes the IPCC the most authoritative body on global warming.

The new report begins with a definitive statement:

“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.” Tom Evans, climate researcher at the think tank E3G, put the implication succinctly: “No government has any excuse to duck their responsibility to act.”

The IPCC report released today concludes:

“Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C (the make or break point of no return for humanity) will be beyond reach.”

The good news is that it is not too late, and if we collectively wake up and take action now.

Yes, it’s tempting to think that the problem is too large for you personally to even try to solve it. But here too, there is good news: in this moment of crisis we find ourselves in, going it alone is not what’s required of us. The key to turning despair into action is to think beyond the individual and seek community support and solutions. something we do well here in Hawaii.

— especially those that put pressure on governments and companies to make the large-scale changes that are necessary to truly curtail emissions. Or as Mary Annaïse Heglar puts it, “the most detrimental thing to climate action is this feeling that we’re all in it alone.”


 

Federal infrastructure dollars that will help Hawaii fight Climate Change…

 

No Planet B Sign

Is Hawaii (and are we) making a difference in addressing Climate Change?

Editorial

Hawaii has a historic  leadership role dating back to the late 1990’s when the state first addressed Climate Change directly, beginning with a statewide conversion goal to clean and 100% locally produced and consumed electricity.

As one of the first states to establish a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), Hawaii set the goal for the year 2045 to achieve a 100% clean and renewable energy power grid — think of it, a statewide electricity grid fueled by the sun and wind and other locally available zero emissions, renewable and sustainable clean power — no imported oil, coal, or gas..

This long range and ambitious RPS transition to a clean energy economy was helped along by several new laws which went into effect after a highly successful 2021 state legislative session, which was supported by Governor Ige, and which advances the statewide adoption and transition to zero emissions Electric Vehicles — all with the potential to be fueled by locally-produced clean power.  Hawaii’s transportation emissions today account for nearly 40% of the state’s global warming emissions. A statewide transition to Electric Vehicles could reduce CO2 emissions in Hawaii by 93% in less than 30 years, according to Science Daily —  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210707185319.htm

Yes, it’s tempting to think that the problem is too large for you to personally even try to solve. But here too, there is good news. In this moment of crisis we find ourselves in, going it alone is not what’s required of us. “How to fight climate despair” is an article which offers some insightful guidance.

The key to turning despair into action is to think beyond the individual and seek community support and solutions — something we do this especially well with Hawaii’s “can do” aloha community spirit.

Governments and companies can and must make a large-scale transition to zero emissions energy options and sustainable business practices. This isn’t just a good will move, there are far greater efficiencies and operating cost savings that comes with change and breaking the mold of business-as-usual. A business operating transition with profit incentives by curtailing emissions and saving money at the same time through 21st century clean energy efficiencies.

The current infrastructure bills (1 & 2) making their way through Congress offer a number of financial incentives for the business sector beyond the normal round of investment tax credits.  For more details see — https://www.beyondkona.com/whats-in-the-bipartisan-infrastructure-bill-for-hawaii/

Public awareness and participation also play key roles in directing the commercial sector – after all, the customer (consumers) holds the ultimate sway in motivating companies not to pollute and to move forward with products and services compatible with sustainable business practices, and not getting stuck in the past.

Consider the next car or truck you purchase (new or used) to be electric — not gas or diesel.

Consider a solar energy rooftop energy to directly fuel your electric car or truck and/or consider riding with public transportation options, when practical, and when such options are zero emissions buses coming soon to all islands.

Eat locally grown food whenever possible and practical.

Vote Climate! It’s the overarching issue of our time which affects our future, and that of our children and the generations to follow.

Global Warming presents life-threatening problems and solutions, something we all share in, regardless of our wealth or location.  The most detrimental thing to climate action and progress is this feeling that you are alone and powerless — you’re not.  In all, each of us can participate in the solution side of Climate Change by lowering our personal carbon footprint in the choices we make, in the products we consume, and the actions we take.

Beyond Kona Climate Feed

Ocean Circulation is Showing Signs of Instability — implications for Hawaii and the Pacific Region

The TV news anchor calmly reported”… “A crucial ocean circulation is showing signs of instability. Its shutdown would have serious impacts on our weather.”

A graph appeared in the TV screen as she dutifully read her script: “A crucial system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean that helps control temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere and has implications for the entire planet’s weather systems is showing signs of instability due to human-made climate change, scientists say.  Its collapse would have dire consequences for our weather and life on Earth.”

Gulf Stream Collapse

 

The third party news validation came in the form of this statement… “This has been predicted, basically, for decades that this circulation would weaken in response to global warming. And now we have the strongest evidence that this is already happening,” said Stefan Rahmstorf  of Potsdam University who contributed to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) research.
… The weekend’s nightly news anchor then quickly switched to the day’s most important news development, the Olympic Games’ skateboarding contest results.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) transports water across the planet’s oceans, including the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. The region contributing to the global slowdown is the North Atlantic, is from the meltdown of Greenland’s massive ice sheet, now introducing unprecedented massive amounts of cold fresh water in the North Atlantic, also at unprecedented melting rates.
The Greenland ice sheet meltdown is contributing to both a rise in sea levels and through temperature change and reducing saliently through the AMOC temperature conveyor belt which circulates between the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.  The report concluded; “This indicates that the slowdown is likely not a natural change but the result of human influence.” 
The AMOC has a profound influence on global climate, and particularly in North America and Europe.  Evidence of an ongoing weakening of the circulation is critical for the interpretation of future projections of regional and global climate,” said Andrew Meijers, deputy science leader of polar oceans at British Antarctic Survey.
Researchers say it could be close to a collapse from a strong circulation to a weak circulation, though the threshold for such a collapse is still uncertain, but cause and effect of the trend is undeniably human-induced global warming.
Heavy rain and melting ice sheets are making the water in the North Atlantic Ocean less salty, which makes it lighter and less likely to sink. If the water in this region becomes too light, the entire circulation will be disrupted.  As warm water currents move north, they typically turn back south as it gets cooler and heavier. Added freshwater from the melting ice is causing this turn to be slower because of reduced salinity.

Hotter heat waves, stronger hurricanes

Global weather patterns are critically linked with the ocean circulations and their transport of heat and nutrients around the planet.
An increase in heat waves across Europe and stronger hurricanes closer to the US coastline because of warmer water drifting closer to the coast can be linked to the ocean circulation, Rahmstorf said.
“The world’s seven warmest years have all occurred since 2014, with 10 of the warmest years occurring since 2005,” said NOAA. Heat waves are becoming more frequent already.
The ocean and the currents also play a role in absorbing carbon dioxide, the most dominant greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. The changing currents could decrease the amount of carbon being taken out of the atmosphere, according to NASA.

Marine Impacts

Marine organisms “very strongly depend on these ocean currents, which basically set the conditions for the whole ecosystem in terms of nutrient supply, temperature, and salinity conditions,” Rahmstorf said.
When asked whether the AMOC could slow down further or even stop

Global weather patterns are critically linked to the circulation and its transport of heat and nutrients around the planet. A collapse of this system would result in significant and abrupt changes, including fast sea level rise, more extreme winters in Western Europe and disruptions to hurricane and monsoon systems in the Pacific and tropics.

It could also have a cascading effect and destabilize other components of the Earth’s climate system, including the Antarctic ice sheet and the Amazon rainforest.
This scenario was the premise for the 2004 climate science fiction film “The Day After Tomorrow,” in which a series of extreme weather disasters strike after climate change caused the AMOC to collapse.
The circulation is weaker than it has been in around 1,000 years, scientists had previously said, but they did not know whether it had actually been destabilized or undergoing natural changes. This week’s study used eight datasets looking at surface temperatures and salinity in the North Atlantic over a period of 150 years, and found global warming was driving the destabilization.    “The difference is crucial,” the study’s author, Niklas Boers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
“Despite a lot of research over the last decade on this, it’s very hard to pin down quantitatively, how far away is this tipping point. But the kind of model simulations that I know suggest that if you weaken this circulation by roughly half, you’re getting into a critical state. And so this could well … happen by the end of the century,” Rahmstorf said.
“We should (strive to) stay well clear of that tipping point because the consequences if the circulation would break down all together would be dramatic and outside our control.”

Ocean Amoc 1 Ocean Amoc 2
Money 1

What’s in the bipartisan infrastructure bill for Hawaii

<August 10th, 2021> Bk Breaking News LogoThe Senate gave overwhelming bipartisan approval to a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Tuesday to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, delivering a key component of President Biden’s agenda.

It would provide historic levels of funding for the modernization of the nation’s power grid and projects to better manage climate risks, as well as pour hundreds of billions of dollars into the repair and replacement of aging public works projects.

To win the compromise, Democrats and Mr. Biden — who had initially proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan — had to make major concessions.

The package includes far less funding than they had wanted for lead pipe replacement, transit and clean energy projects, among others. But the result was passage of a crucial component of the president’s far-reaching, $4 trillion economic agenda.

But the measure now faces a potentially rocky and time-consuming path in the House, where the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the nearly 100-member Progressive Caucus, have said they will not vote on it unless and until the Senate passes a separate, even more ambitious $3.5 trillion social policy bill this fall.



<Originally published August 4th, 2021>

Analysis …

The good news — the bipartisan infrastructure bill maintains a large portion of President Biden’s proposals for roads, public transit and high-speed internet.

The bad news – this same bipartisan infrastructure bill has major funding holes in some key investment areas.

Infrastructure3The infrastructure bill with limited GOP participation was never designed properly address a a desperately needed national climate change response, instead developed into a bipartisan political grab bag of vital national 21st century investments, while upholding old economy, fossil fuel profit priorities.

In this scaled down bipartisan infrastructure version, Democrats were able to maintain a $7.5B investment for national EV charging system in the form of an EV/alternative fuel national fueling system, which is not necessarily designed to enable the Biden Administration’s goal of national build out of 500,000 additional electric vehicle charging stations.

The final bill language also contains a provision $3B for battery material processing grants + $3 billion for battery manufacturing and recycling grants.

The trick will be how this portion of the $7.5 billion in infrastructure investment (part 1) is  allocated over the next few years. No doubt, the Biden administration will do its best ensure that goal is met.

Competing interests will make all the difference how the federal infrastructure investment dollars spent and distributed: a national EV charging system — or a hodgepodge build out of petro-sourced hydrogen, propane and natural gas fueling stations — GOP’s bill-participation nod to their Gas Oil Pollution patrons.

The tug of war for these dollars is just beginning. The results of the 2022 election cycle will play major role in how quickly America addresses a global climate crisis and transitions to a clean energy economy.

All this just in the Big Infrastructure Deal. However, more is needed after decades of infrastructure neglect and denial of a global climate threat of our own making which changed traditional views of infrastructure preparedness.  In short, the bipartisan bill leaves much of the nation’s problems to the forthcoming American Jobs Plan to address and reconcile.


Bipartisan Infrastructure Recap:

Infrasturcture2

Energy / Climate / Broadband

Power Grids: $27.65B for grid infrastructure, resiliency & reliability

This means connecting a lot more clean electricity to places that need it. Including $2.5B revolving loan fund from DOE for new transmission & upgrades + $3B for Smart Grid investments.   For the mainland, the bill also provides leeway for DOE to designate corridors of nat’l interest & FERC ability to issue construction permits for some interstate transmission if states withhold/deny applications. Big step to address challenges w/ transmission.

$8.3B has been allocated to fund vital innovation programs from the Energy Act of 2020. This includes: demonstrations of energy storage, advanced nuclear, carbon capture, wind, solar, geothermal, and industrial emissions reduction, and a prize competition for direct air capture of CO2 emissions.

DAC or Direct Air Capture is new a technology area designed lower global CO2 levels in the atmosphere by first removing and then safely storing CO2 for the long term.  The $3.5B is allocated for 4 direct air capture (DAC) hubs. Hubs can unite DAC facilities with industrial consumers and storage sites to remove and keep CO2 out of the atmosphere. A technology with huge, unfilled  potential in addressing global warming emissions.

$8B has been also allocated to establish 4 regional hubs for clean hydrogen production, transport and use. This investment can help clean H2 industry take off. Another $500M has been allocated to establish and support a domestic supply chain for the production of clean H2 (without fossil fuels), and additional $1B demonstration project, designed to bring down the cost of H2 produced by electrolysis (green hydrogen).

$40B to deploy broadband to unserved areas, and the continuation of the affordability program to help low-income families.


Transportation

$39.15B in public transit: A 83% increase for transit over FAST Act.

This includes $8B for new transit construction/expansion, money that will help Hawaii address its inadequate, island-by-island, road system. Also included, $5.25B for Low/No emissions public transportation, and fleet wide transitions to clean, zero emissions buses.

“When I say electric vehicles are the future, I’m not joking,” tweeted President Biden.   $7.5B investment for national EV charging system in the form of an EV/alternative fuel national transportation fueling system has been included in the bill — see above for further analysis and details.

$3 billion for battery material processing grants, and another $3 billion for battery manufacturing and recycling grants.  An area of investment which applies both to EV’s and the renewable energy sectors. These kinds of investments are needed to spur domestic industry and reduce dependence on global competitors.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hilo Bay Sea Level Rise

The New Climate Reality: Tipping Points, Feedback Loops, Domino Effects

THE CLIMATE SCIENCE

A famous 1960’s song opens with “There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear“… A 4,000 page draft report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes whatever isn’t clear now perfectly clear in the most recent scientific Climate findings and projections on Earthbound warming impacts.

The in-depth report concludes with these three fundamental warnings in which the public, politicians, and business should heed:

  1. Unless drastic and immediate action is taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperatures from rising further, life on earth is poised for a catastrophic reckoning
  2. Mankind may have already missed its opportunity to keep the climate from passing a series of thresholds that will further spur the warming of the planet   
  3. Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems, the report goes onto state, “Humans cannot”

Tipping points and feedback loops, are perhaps best exemplified by ever increasing melting of the Artic permafrost, which in turn releases methane gas trapped in the ice and then into the atmosphere. Methane releases further amplify the greenhouse gas effect, pushing temperatures even higher. As a result of the melting of the polar ice caps and loss of sea ice, the earth absorbs far more of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and heat, which further contributes to ice melt.

Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center is not optimistic. “…It’s not just because of those feedbacks, it’s because we’ve already put so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and that carbon dioxide lasts a very long time,” “A molecule of carbon dioxide, on average, lasts about 100 years in the atmosphere. So we haven’t yet felt the impacts of the carbon dioxide that we’ve already put in the atmosphere.”

The report warns of “progressively serious, centuries’ long and, in some cases, irreversible consequences.” The report also said that the millions of people who live along coastlines almost everywhere around the world could be battered by multiple climate calamities at once: drought, heatwaves, cyclones, wildfires and flooding.

Nothing in the IPCC report should be a surprise, as all the information comes from the scientific literature. But put together, the stark message is that increasingly severe heatwaves, fires, floods and droughts are coming our way with dire global impacts, and Hawaii’s remoteness will not protect us from the consequences of humankind’s unabated burning of fossil fuels.

On top of this are the irreversible changes now underway. These tipping points, such as where high temperatures and droughts means the world’s forests (temperate and rainforests) may not survive. Altogether, Climate-induced tipping points will be like toppling dominoes, with social, environmental and economic damages impacting food supplies, transportation, energy, industry and social infrastructures within the next few decades – impacts which are already well underway and accelerating.


THE ECONOMY

Climate change is already taking a toll on the global economy, and forecasts predict worse is to come by mid-century (2050).

In a worst-case scenario, if Earth’s temperature rises four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, global GDP could decline 10 to 23 percent compared to a world without warming

  • Expected damages for 136 major coastal cities were calculated at between $1.6 trillion and $3.2 trillion by 2050 in a worst-case scenario without adaptation
  • Storm surges enhanced by sea level rise threaten more than 40 percent of coastal nuclear power plants worldwide
  • Nearly 14 percent of the world’s sandy beaches face severe erosion or elimination by 2050, even under the most moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario (island states like Hawaii will be hardest hit)
  • Average global economic damage due to floods over the last several decades has averaged $50 billion to $350 billion annually, depending on methods of calculation (the Property and Casualty insurance industry in the United States accounted for nearly three quarters of trillion USD in premiums written in 2019 – and are now facing severe economic adjustments in this new climate reality)
  • In Africa alone, a decline in rainfall from 1960 to 2000, attributed to climate change, widened the GDP gap between Africa and the rest of the developing world by 15 to 40 percent.  Heat and scarce rain are adding obstacles to global agricultural, but presently hardest hit is Africa. with a highly uncertain economic future, while facing greater social instability and forced migration – which in turn will produce ripple effects far beyond the region

In the Asia-Pacific region, rising sea levels are threatening to cause havoc across Asia-Pacific, from Bangladesh to China to Australia. The IPCC projects sea level rise up to 1.1 meters by 2100.

  • In South Asia, water-related impacts of climate change are expected to reduce GDP up to 2.5 percent by 2050 if global warming exceeds two degrees Celsius
  • Asia could experience direct losses of nearly $170 billion with half-a-meter of sea level rise, and damages will be concentrated in China
  • In Bangladesh, for example, one-third of power plants may need to be relocated by 2030 due to sea-level rise, and even more so is the case with Japan nuclear energy dependent economy
  • Climate-induced loss in Australian agricultural and labor productivity could exceed $14 billion by 2030 and $159 billion by 2050, and these figures do not account for economic losses associated with climate-driven die-off (now underway) of the Country’s Great Barrier Reef marine ecosystem.

 


AND HAWAII; sea-level rise is accelerating

Sea level rise is a statewide problem with the entire Hawaiian chain of islands impacted.  The sea level off Hawaii’s various coastlines is up to 10 inches higher than it was in 1950.

For MAUI, sea level rise impacts are mostly due to ice melting into the ocean and is causing major issues.  With sea-level rise, an increase in wave plus tide-driven flooding has led to worsening coastal erosion in the Honokōwai area of West Maui in recent years.

high-tide flooding

 

For HAWAII ISLAND, the sea level around Hilo Bay, Hawaii, has risen by 10 inches since 1950. Its speed of rise has accelerated over the last ten years and it’s now rising by about 1 inch every 4 years. Scientists know this because the sea level is measured every 6 minutes using equipment like satellites, floating buoys off the coast, and tidal gauges to accurately measure the local sea level as it accelerates and changes.

Hilo Bay Sea Level Rise

 

And for OAHU, increases in sea level currently threatens Honolulu’s famous Waikīkī district.

Wave splashing against wall in Waikiki

 

Droughts, floods, and fire …

In an undated photo from Emma Gerrish, land burned by a wildfire before the Gerrish&#39;s farm outside Pa&#39;auilo, Hawaii. (Emma Gerrish via The New York Times)

Weather intensity swings in Hawaii are increasingly impacting the islands.

Hawaii may be graced with tropical forests, making parts of the islands some of the wettest places on the planet, but it is also increasingly vulnerable to wildfires. Heavy rains encourage unfettered growth of invasive species, including guinea grass, and dry, hot summers make them highly flammable.

Similar to the American West, where dozens of large blazes have raged in recent weeks and fire seasons have grown worse over the years because of extreme weather patterns and climate change, about two-thirds of Hawaii faces unusually dry conditions this summer.

Some of the recent fires, especially on the Big Island and the island of Maui, ravaged areas spanning about 10,000 acres. From 2018 through last year, at least 75,107 acres across the islands have been lost to wildfires, by far the most devastating stretch in a decade and a half.

While the fires showcase several challenges that Hawaii shares with states in the West, including the spread of highly flammable invasive grasses, authorities in Hawaii also cite other factors that make Hawaii unique. Those include big shifts in rainfall patterns over the archipelago and tourism’s eclipse of large-scale farming in Hawaii’s economy, allowing nonnative plants to overtake idled sugar cane and pineapple plantations.


Solutions?

Hawaii can be complicated because each island is affected differently by sea level rise and flooding, but the impact is felt by all islands collectively.

The state is planning over $6 billion in sea level rise solutions, which include port and canal improvements, dredging, and restoration of wetland habitats.

Extreme flooding events in some U.S. coastal areas could double every five years if sea levels continue to rise as expected, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Today’s “once-in-a-lifetime” extreme water levels— are currently occurring every decade— and are projected to be exceeded by daily event along most of the U.S. coastline before the end of the 21st century.

The return on investment in converting to a clean energy economy, and as a result, capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius rather than two degrees would increase per capita GDP five percent across the developing world and potentially more so for developed economies by mid-century. UN estimates project up to 20 percent increase in global GDP by 2100. Even more importantly, a rapid transition to a clean energy will help ensure a prosperous and healthy future for Hawaii and the planet.

Major steps forward —

Hawaii had a very productive 2021 legislative session, passing several laws which pave the way to the state’s clean energy future and protecting stakeholders from sea level rise impacts.  Gov. David Ige signed unto law the following bills addressing climate change:

HB 243 requires state agencies to identify facilities that are susceptible to sea level rise and flooding.   The agencies also will need to send an annual report to the governor. The state is also required to prepare mitigation plans for these facilities.

SB 474, requires anyone selling a home to disclose if the property lies in a sea level rise exposure area.  According to a 2017 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the global mean sea level will rise 3.2 feet by 2100. In a more extreme scenario, that level can be reached by 2060.

HB552 – Establishes clean ground transportation goals for state agencies on a staggered basis until achieving a 100 percent passenger vehicle clean fleet by 12/31/2030, 100 percent light-duty motor vehicle clean fleet by 12/31/2035, and all light-duty motor vehicles in the State by 12/31/2045. New purchases of light-duty motor vehicles must be zero-emission by January 1, 2022.

HB424 – Requires all state and county entities, when renting a vehicle on behalf of a state employee in the discharge of official government business, to rent electric or hybrid vehicles.

HB1142 – Allocates 3 cents of the barrel tax to fund the installation and statewide build out of an EV infrastructure; charging systems, along with enforcement of 297-71 HRS – penalties for failure to comply with the requirement to install and maintain charging stations; while at the same time authorizing penalties for improper parking in an EV charging stall.

Clearly, the state’s goal for 100% clean and renewable energy needs legislative updating, coupled to greater cooperation and participation by the state’s largest utility; Hawaii Electric in a transition off fossil fuel power plants, which the power the state’s economy — a problem not unique to Hawaii in states which have taken a leadership role in transitioning their power grids to clean and renewable energy.

Yellow Tang

Hawaii’s Reef Fish – Wanted Dead or Alive


Breaking News Update – July 13th

A coalition of conservation groups, Native Hawaiian fishers, and cultural practitioners took legal action today to require the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources to protect West Hawai‘i’s reefs and coastal areas from commercial extraction of fish and other wildlife for the aquarium pet trade. 

In the complaint filed on their behalf by Earthjustice, the coalition is challenging the Board’s failure to reject the latest environmental impact statement submitted by trade representatives, which the group says violates state environmental protection laws.


In the past decade science finally caught up with what many divers and avid snorkelers already knew, that Hawaii’s reef fish play a vital role in the health of state’s reef system.

A pair of two yearlong studies by University of Georgia and Florida International University show that reef fish contribute more nutrients to their local ecosystems than any other source; enough to cause changes in the growth rates of the organisms at the base of the food web.

That contribution to the health of near shore marine ecosystem is dependent on a diverse and robust fish population, but is presently threatened by multiple stressors, e.g., climate-driven bleaching events, coral acidification, over fishing and other human impacts.

Coral reefs are important ecosystems where up to 8,000 species of fish live.

These reefs provide many services to humans. For instance, they protect shores against large waves and provide a food source for the fish humans eat, but most of all represent both irreplaceable environmental and economic assets to Hawaii..

Hawaii’s coral reef ecosystem, because of its isolation, has more than 1,250 unique species of marine life that can be found only on Hawaii’s reefs. Hawaii’s reef fish the ecosystem of which they a vital role are endangered by multiple 21st century stressors ranging from global heating impacts to manmade mismanagement — the latter most recent example is BLNR, and its enforcement arm DLNR, in their duty to protect Hawaii marine environment assets, beginning with native reef fish.

The Hawaiian Islands have 410,000 acres of living reef in the main islands alone, more than the landmass of Oahu, and for the fish extraction trade in aquarium trade is mostly off limits, except of Hawaii Island’s West Coast reefs — a policy formulated by Oahu-based bureaucrats.

The Oahu based state board that governs certain decision making processes over the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), in a tie decision left open the possibility of legally admitting the Aquarium trade back in to business in West Hawaii.

With one Board member absent, this resulted in a 3-3 “no decision” tie vote. The Hawaiʻi state environmental review law dictates that a tie vote is automatically deemed as accepted after 30 days, July 8th in this instance.

In such cases when environmental resources along with traditional and customary Hawaiian rights and practices are considered, and where uncertainty exists, it can be legally argued that the state’s duty (the DAR, DLNR, and BLNR) in executing their duty as a public trustee, includes public resource protection.

If the board’s tie decision and default to proceed if legally challenge, it is likely the plaintiffs will argue the inadequacy of the trade’s EIS report submission.  The Hawaii branch of the Sierra Club and or perhaps the Hawaii-Pacific division of EarthJustice will be up to the public defense of this misguided agency decision, which allows the return of an  unwarranted extraction trade of Hawaii Island reef fish and the corresponding impact from that extraction to the island’s marine ecosystem.


The aquarium trade applicants’ preferred alternative would allow seven permitted fish extractors to collect only yellow tang, kole, orangespine unicornfish, potter’s angelfish, brown surgeonfish Thompson’s surgeonfish, black surgeonfish and bird wrasse within the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area (WHRFMA), which spans nearly the entire coastline of West Hawaii Island.

Yellow Tang

 

Kole Tang

Kole Tang

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangespine Unicornfish                                               

Orangesoine Unicorn

Potter’s Anglefish

Potter's Anglefish

Brown Surgeonfish

Brown Surgonfish

Thomson’s Surgeonfish

Thompson's Surgeonfish

Black Surgeonfish

Black Surgeonfish

and last, but not least … 

Bird Wassel

Bird Wrasse


A special thanks to Robert Culbertson of Reef Keepers for his contribution to this article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waterworld 2

Climate News – World’s largest iceberg breaks off from Antarctica

An enormous iceberg, a little bigger than the state of Rhode Island, has broken off of Antarctica.

The iceberg broke off the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea, as observed by the European Space Agency (ESA). Iceberg Antarctica

The finger-shaped chunk of ice, which is roughly 105 miles (170 kilometers) long and 15 miles (25 kilometers) wide, was spotted by satellites as it calved from the western side of Antarctica’s Ronne Ice Shelf, according to the European Space Agency. The berg is now floating freely on the Weddell Sea, a large bay in the western Antarctic.

The 1,667-square-mile iceberg—is now the world’s biggest…

Almost 90% of the glacial area in the world is in Antarctica, which is crucial to our climate.

The bright white spots act like a protective cover over the Earth and our oceans, reflecting excess heat back into space to keep the planet cooler. But because of our greenhouse gas pollution, our glaciers are rapidly melting, which only further speeds up dangerous warming of our earth.

Our planet’s ecosystems are intricately intertwined, so when polar ice melts, it has far-reaching consequences.

For instance, rapid melting of the polar ice caps causes less heat to be repelled back into space and creates a feed-back loop resulting in warmer poles and a warmer planet. That in turn not only creates an even greater loss of sea ice that animals like polar bears and walruses rely on for their habitat, but the entire ocean ecosystem is impacted.

The consequences of polar melting don’t just impact animals, it directly harm humans.  

The polar regions and current climate-induced meltdown, the result of accelerated global warming, puts the whole planet at greater risk of the dangers we are already seeing – fires, storm surges, drought and other destabilizing forces that put our island communities at risk.

The wild waters of the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica are one of the planet’s biggest carbon stores.

The ocean absorbs around 12% of all carbon dioxide generated by humans each year, but despite its huge importance in regulating the Earth’s climate, it has barely been studied by science.

Melting glaciers change ocean currents by introducing cold water to warmer oceans. This changes the habitats of countless animals and has been linked to the collapse of fisheries.

We’re becoming used to constant news showing greater disasters around the world, rising temperatures in every region, and record-breaking glacial collapse.  Scientists have been telling us for years that we need to act now in order to avoid devastating consequences now underway.


Related Climate News

California is at the edge of another protracted drought, just a few years after one of the worst dry spells in state history left poor and rural communities without well water, triggered major water restrictions in cities, forced farmers to idle their fields, killed millions of trees, and fueled devastating megafires.

– Food supply is the next climate victim

Last week, the unofficial end of California’s wet season, officials announced that the accumulation of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Cascades was about 40% below average levels. The state doesn’t have enough snow and rain banked to replenish its groundwater supplies, feed its rivers and streams or fill depleted reservoirs.

Just four years since the state’s last drought emergency, experts and advocates say the state isn’t ready to cope with what could be months and possibly years of drought to come. Heading into the summer, battles are heating up between cities, farms and environmentalists over how scarce supplies are rationed.

Many of the state’s reservoirs are at extremely low capacity and levels are expected to drop further in the coming months. Already, the state’s 154 major reservoirs are collectively at 71% of where they typically are on average. Federal climate analysts with the National Integrated Drought Information System called the outlook for California’s reservoir levels recovery “grim” in their most recent report.

California is America’s primary produce supplier and diversified agricultural exporter to Hawaii and other states.

California’s drought will result in supply shortages and higher food costs for consumers.

A third of global food production will be at risk by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rate, new research suggests.

Many of the world’s most important food-growing areas will see temperatures increase and rainfall patterns alter drastically if temperatures rise by about 3.7C, the forecast increase if emissions stay high.

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have calculated that about 95% of current crop production takes place in areas they define as “safe climatic space”, or conditions where temperature, rainfall and aridity fall within certain bounds.

If temperatures were to rise by 3.7C or thereabouts by the century’s end, that safe area would shrink drastically, mostly affecting south and south-eastern Asia and Africa’s Sudano-Sahelian zone.


– Onward to a Hotter World –

Global Warming Food ImpactOver the past decade, scientists have been able to produce a far more nuanced picture of how temperature rise affects the complexities of cloud cover and atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns and ecology.

  • We’re looking at vast dead zones in the oceans as nutrients from fertilizer runoff combine with warmer waters to produce an explosion in algae that starve marine life of oxygen.

 

  • This will be exacerbated by the acidity from dissolved CO2, which will cause a mass die-off, particularly of shellfish, plankton and coral.

 

 

  • Sea levels will be perhaps two meters higher and, more worryingly, we will be well on our way to an ice-free world, having passed the tipping points for the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets, committing us to at least 10 meters of sea-level rise in coming centuries

 

Hi Underground Underwater Rivers To The Sea

Hawaii’s Dirty Little Secret

The EPA defines “Cesspools” as basically underground holes used for the disposal of human waste — which collect and discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean.

There are approximately 88,000 cesspools in the State, with nearly 50,000 located on the Big Island, and approximately 43,000 cesspools pose a risk to the island’s water resources and marine environment.

Hawaii’s cesspools release into the ground a total of approximately 53 million gallons of untreated sewage each day.

Cesspools

Untreated wastewater from cesspools contains pathogens that can cause:

  • gastroenteritis,
  • hepatitis A,
  • conjunctivitis,
  • leptospirosis,
  • salmonella and
  • cholera

In short, cesspools can have a significant impact on the quality of drinking water, general water quality, the health of our reefs, and the health of Hawaii’s residents and visitors.

Hawaii’s state legislature, never short on grand proclamations with far off due dates, in the 2017 session required the replacement of all cesspools by 2050.

The legislation wisely directs the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) to evaluate residential cesspools in the state, develop a Report to the Legislature that includes a prioritization method for cesspool upgrades, and work with the Department of Taxation on possible funding options to reduce the financial burden on homeowners. The statewide cesspool ban legislation also provides for tax credits to assist homeowners with cesspool upgrades.

Is 30 years too long? So far there is no comprehensive plan to support the state’s plan to replace all cesspools of any size by 2050.


EPA to the Rescue?

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA banned large-capacity cesspools in 2005.  Since then, the federal agency has initiated actions statewide resulting in the closure-decommissioning of  more than 3,400 of Hawaii’s cesspools; however, many hundreds more of the large-capacity systems remain in operation.  The EPA guidelines for targeted closures, as defined as “large capacity cesspools” does not include single family residential cesspools, or non-residential cesspools which receive solely sanitary waste and have the capacity to serve fewer than 20 persons per day.

In March of last year the EPA summarized their ongoing enforcement actions targeting cesspool violations within the state of Hawaii this way… “Closing down large-capacity cesspools that contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean are a priority. The EPA will continue our efforts to identify and take enforcement actions to close the remaining large capacity cesspools in Hawaii.” 

In other words, EPA’s historic enforcement focus, prior to arrival of the Biden Administration, failed to address the 88,000 plus cesspools across the state presently releasing and estimated 53 million gallons of raw sewage into the state’s groundwater daily — and 90% of Hawaii’s drinking water comes from groundwater, according to state officials.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has been fined nearly $222,000 for operating seven large-capacity cesspools on Kauai island. The EPA has taken action before against the department, has collected over $400,000 in fines and closed 74 cesspools.


Cesspool Pollution Multiplier

One of the biggest problems for Hawaii reefs is sewage.  With cesspool installations (large and small alike) throughout the islands and many in coastal areas, cesspools leak into groundwater — and with heavy rains, contaminated water send pathogens and other harmful contaminants into the ocean.

Extreme rain events are predicted to become more common with human-caused global warming not only wreaking havoc on land — but the runoff from these increasingly severe storms also threatens Hawaii’s coral reefs.  The cause and effect connection between contaminated run-off and Hawaii’s coastal marine environment is becoming increasingly obvious, and the absence of a meaningful and timely statewide response to this environmental and health threat is equally obvious.

“Cesspools are essentially a hole in the ground where there is no treatment prior to wastewater entering the environment,” said Jamison Gove, a research oceanographer with NOAA who lives on Oahu’s North Shore.

 

Steve Homes 3

Puna Geothermal Venture

PGV is the first and only commercially-productive geothermal electrical plant in Hawaii. Constructed on a site adjacent to failed experimental wells drilled and operated by the Hawaii Geothermal Project in the 1970s and 80s, construction on the generating facility began in 1989 and was completed in 1993.

Prior to 2018 Kilauea eruption and subsequent lava damage to the plant, PGV had an installed generating capacity of 38 MW from six production wells and five injection wells within Kilauea’s East rift volcano zone.

The PGV’s geothermal power output was sold to the Hawaiian Electric Industries (HELCO) under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the utility. The PGV claims to have generated up to 10% of the island’s utility energy at the beginning of 2018, just prior to the eruption.

Volcanic Changes Could Spell Trouble for PGV

Since the operational inception of PGV area island residents have complained of a chocking stench of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, as well as rumbling noises and vibration (allegedly due to PGV’s near continuous drilling operations).  Pgv

Local residents concerns regarding the plant’s drilling operations are many, including an alleged and unproven link to Lower East Rift Zone eruptions and the plant’s drilling operations on what the scientific community consider the world’s most active volcano.

One thing is for certain the 2018 eruption in the Lower East Rift Zone is a reminder of the dramatically altered the physical environment, destroyed the substation, and event that forced an emergency shutdown of PGV operation and power production.  PGV was in fact incredibly lucky as the potential for much greater plant damage from a volcanic eruption remains a constant reminder of Kilauea’s active volcanism.

State Sen. Russell Ruderman of Puna described the images of the 2018 eruption with lava nearly surrounding PGV plant this way… “Even if you don’t know anything more than that, it’s obviously not the place to put any critical infrastructure.”

Since the 2018 eruption, Kilauea continues to see movement of fresh magma into the rift zone indicating a very dynamic situation.   Kilauea’s intruded magma at depth has altered the discrete pocket of geothermal fluids that the plant uses for power.

It is no longer a brine dominated resource which indicates that the plumbing has changed. Water trapped in the dike complex within the rift may have been driven out and that process may continue raising questions of the PGV’s long term viability.

Another factor facing PGV is the “clean” and renewable energy marketplace which offers energy alternatives of less risk, and are potentially more price and performance competitive, e.g. solar-wind-storage.

Then there are recent changes in the state’s regulatory framework.  Subsequently, the PUC has adopted rules with greater detail that have the effect of law.

The state legislature also adopted the Ratepayers Protection Act in 2018 which set up performance standards and incentives to encourage faster movement to renewables while bringing costs down for consumers. It is the latter point that may spell the greatest challenge to PGV’s future plans.

In short, there are several good reasons, which are in the public’s and ratepayer interests, for the PUC to require PGV to provide the Agency with a (supplemental) SEIS at this time.

PGV requests a compromise… the PUC responds

The Hawaii PUC’s recent docket now contains an amended and restated Power Purchase Agreement, which the PUC has placed “on hold” requiring a supplemental EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), as much has changed since 1993.

The whole point of an environmental review within the EIS is so the PUC has available to it essential information in meeting its regulatory obligations and to support its decision process. It isn’t just a paperwork exercise as some might allege.

In response, PGV recently proposed to the PUC a “compromise”.

The comprise proposed by PGV places the EIS decision process with other less qualified agencies who do not share the PUC’s public interest mission, and more to the point, that the PUC proceed processing PGV’s amended Power Purchase Agreement request without delay or further due diligence – hardly a compromise.

The denial of a continued waiver from PGV participating in a competitive bidding process seems likely to follow, which is likely driving PGV’s urgent compromise ploy.

If the PUC were to continue to allow PGV’s non-competition wavier, holding open the waiver while PGV pursues a (supplemental) EIS, then it makes no sense, at least until more fundamental questions are addressed.

But for PGV, the loss of a waiver could be a major setback for PGV’s expansion plans, as there are no current solicitations for renewable energy projects on the Big Island currently open.

The PUC has responded, reinforcing its SEIS fulfillment requirement of PGV.

Henry Curtis

Hawai`i Mainstream Media; a megaphone for Hu Honua Narrative

Hu Honua History Lesson

Hu Honua proposed burning trees to generate electricity to be sold to Hawai`i Electric Light Company (HELCO) in 2008.

The Public Utilities Commission issued HELCO a waiver from competitive bidding for the project in 2008 and approved the HELCO-Hu Honua contract in 2013.

Hu Honua failed to meet milestones.

HELCO terminated their contract due to Hu Honua missing required deadlines.

HELCO submitted a Revised and Amended Power Purchase Contract to the PUC in 2017. The PUC approved it.

Life of the Land challenged the decision. The Hawai`i Supreme Court upheld the appeal, mandating that the PUC must consider life cycle greenhouse gas emissions.

HELCO filed an amended agreement to the PUC in 2017. The PUC approved it and Life of the Land filed an appeal. The Hawaii Supreme Court upheld the appeal in 2019.

The PUC rejected the Waiver from Competitive Bidding for the proposed Hu Honua Bioenergy plant on the Big Island in 2020, justifying its decision on the Hawaii Supreme Court`s 2019 ruling supporting Life of the Land`s appeal.

Hu Honua appealed.

The Hawai`i Supreme Court upheld the Hu Honua appeal in May 2021 on the grounds that the PUC should not have cited the court remand decision for the reason the waiver for competitive bidding was rejected.

The proceeding has been remanded back to the PUC.

Going Forward

The PUC may now again reject the waiver, but if it does so, it can`t be based on the court`s 2019 remand. The PUC may decide that the waiver is no longer valid — game end for Hu Honua…

There are two key decision points in the public interest the PUC has yet to consider in any Hu Honua approval to proceed decision:

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and
  2. the cost competitiveness of the Hu Honua PPA which is greater twice the ratepayer cost of solar+storage zero emissions energy options.

Although not widely reported, the Court’s ruling this week concluded with the following: “…The (PUC) hearing must also include express consideration of GHG emissions that would result from approving the Amended PPA, whether the cost of energy under the Amended PPA is reasonable in light of the potential for GHG emissions, and whether the terms of the Amended PPA are prudent and in the public interest, in light of its potential hidden and long-term consequences.”


Hawai`i Media Megaphone

HPR: Hawaii Supreme Court Ruling Advances Big Island Biomass Energy Plant

Hawaii Tribune-Herald: Parties pleased with ruling: State Supreme Court remands Honua Ola case to PUC by John Burnett

Big Island Video News: Hawaii Supreme Court Vacates PUC’s Hu Honua Order, Remands Case – The power purchase agreement between Hu Honua and Hawaiian Electric remains vacated, and the 2017 competitive bidding waiver remains valid and in force, the court rules.

Hawaii News Now: PUC to reconsider approval of halted bioenergy project after high court ruling

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Big Island renewable energy plant wins appeal by Dave Segal

Pacific Business News: Hawaii Supreme Court ruling gives Hu Honua biomass project new life

HPR – Hawai`i Public Radio: The Conversation.

Catherine Cruz: “The Hawai`i Supreme Court has remanded a case involving a big island bioenergy plant back to Public Utilities Commission. We talked to Warren Lee, the head of Honua Ola, formerly known as Hu Honua, about what this could mean for the green energy project which has been delayed for two years because of legal challenges. The company planned to burn eucalyptus trees or albizia trees and other invasive species to provide electricity for the community. It’s been mired in the courts because of an issue with greenhouse gases and legal technicalities. Here`s Warren.”

Warren Lee: “The State Supreme Court`s ruling was a major milestone for us. Yeah we hope the PUC will look at the issues that were outlined by the remand and move forward with us so that we can provide firm renewable energy to the Big Island.”

Catherine Cruz: “How many workers do you have right now as this case works its way through the courts?

Warren Lee: “Well we have approximately 30, 34, 35 positions within Honua Ola itself. Then we would have contractors do the harvesting, planting, the re=planting, the re-growth, the hauling, and the ancillary services. So, it comes out to a couple hundred at least.”

Catherine Cruz: “So, have things just been at a standstill?

Warren Lee: “Pretty much, we have slowly been doing construction. We are 99% complete.  A few months doing very minimal construction activities right now.”

Catherine Cruz: “And what do you believe that this Supreme Court decision does for your case?

Warren Lee: “Well, I think it makes it very clear what the Supreme Court remanded a couple of years ago that the issue of greenhouse gas reduction be addressed fully, and to let the participants like Life of the Land, participate fully. So I think it reaffirmed their order from two years ago. So, we`re back to where we were and we hope we can get it done with the Public Utilities Commission and the parties are interested, so that we can move forward. Get the plant online.”

Catherine Cruz: “Have you had a chance to check in with the PUC, any idea you know what the schedule, is going be like for the summer or how soon you can get in before them.”

Warren Lee: “Yeah, well we haven`t, well the order came out this morning. So the ball is with the Public Utilities Commission now to set the procedural schedule. They originally set up a procedural schedule two years ago where we were going through the opening statements, updated the project, did the greenhouse gas studies that were submitted by ourselves, and one was submitted by Hawaiian Electric or HELCO. So we hope, they`ll pick it up from there and move forward and satisfy the remand of the issue that the Supreme Court laid out for the Public Utilities Commission and the parties.”

Catherine Cruz: “So you think then, this will give everybody a chance to weigh the arguments?

Warren Lee: “Well, I think it will give everybody a chance to understand why we`re saying that we are going to be carbon negative, or carbon neutral when our goal is to be carbon negative at the end of the 30-year purchase power agreement which is on the table. So everybody that`s part of the evidentiary hearing is to present that, which is the study that we filed, and to answer any questions that may come up.”

Catherine Cruz: “Explain how this legal issue, this legal cloud, has affected the project there?

Warren Lee: “Back in 2017, when the amended purchase power agreement was approved by the Public Utilities Commission, Hawaiian Electric did present a greenhouse gas reduction plan, and based on the appeal, we`ve lost, or been delayed, say about two years. From the plant operating. So, there is a cost, it`s a huge investment that`s been made by the ownership, and we just want to be sure that we can get this plant running and provide biomass renewable green energy in Hawai`i. And the delay hasn`t helped.

Catherine Cruz: “What about the workers?

Warren Lee: “We`ve kept the workers on, going through the legal processes. You know some have left for other jobs, opportunities, but the core group, approximately 30 remain on the payroll, they’re trained and ready to go, ready to operate. We need to finish out the Construction which is 99% done. Then we need to commission the plant. That will be done once we get through the purchase power agreement process, Public Utilities Commission.”

Catherine Cruz: “If all goes well, what`s your hope?

Warren Lee: “A lot of it depends on back to your original question of when the PUC`s is going to handle this. We`ve been waiting so long and with the Supreme Court ruling, if we can get the purchase power agreement and all the processes within the next several months, I think there`s a good chance that we could be online by maybe the end of this year or early next year.”

Catherine Cruz: “How much construction needs to be completed?

Warren Lee: “Well more specifically what we need to do, is we need to finish up a couple of our cooling water wells. One of them is almost ready for testing. And then we need to submit the application, the permits to operate to the Department of Land and Natural Resources and also other permits with the Department of Health and just do the remaining work and then commission the plant. Commissioning a new generating power plant is not an everyday easy task. It could take a while.”

Catherine Cruz: “That was part of a conversation we had with Warren Lee, yesterday, afternoon, following the issuance of the ruling by the Hawai`i Supreme Court. Lee again hopes that the second opportunity for the PUC can clear the way for the plant to complete its construction and get the necessary permits to begin operating, Lee hopes that it can happen by the end of this year or early next year. The PUC says it is not clear at this point how soon it can re-schedule the new hearing.”