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LETTERS for the August 29 issue

August 29, 2019
Lahaina News

Maui case could deliver fatal blow to Clean Water Act

In response to Mayor Victorino's "opinion" in the Aug. 16, 2019, edition of The Maui News. I humbly submit the following reply.

Mayor Victorino's take on the Lahaina injection wells is the most pro-Trump propaganda I've ever seen from this current administration. It is riddled with misleading and inaccurate information. Clearly Mayor Victorino does not understand the issues before the Supreme Court of the United States. He confuses the Clean Water Act (CWA) with the Safe Drinking Act as if he cannot discern between the two. This is why he continues to bring the irrelevant and baseless cesspool argument into the mix - which has nothing to do with the CWA or the county's Supreme Court case. The mayor seems to be posturing himself as the "hero of the people" instead of the more realistic "defender of decades of serial pollution" by the county of the West Maui waters.

Article Photos

What his opinion piece conveniently fails to acknowledge is that the courts, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, found that: (1) The county knew even before its facility went online in the 1980s that water pollution injected into the ground near the ocean would naturally flow to the ocean; and, (2) the dye testing conducted by his so-called partner University of Hawaii conclusively found that the effluent from the injection wells was traceable in the waters at Kahekili Beach. Moreover, in 2009, the county conceded that its wells were non-compliant with the CWA and accepted millions of dollars of federal monies (with the assistance with the state Legislature) to come into the CWA compliance. The county even submitted written testimony to the state Legislature admitting the funds it was seeking was to comply with the federal law. This is not a debatable issue, and it was simply ignored by Victorino's article.

Since 2009, the county has not used those federal monies towards its intended purpose of bringing the Lahaina injection wells into compliance with the CWA. Instead, the county has postured the position that "just kidding. We really were in compliance with the CWA." Yet, those federal dollars were not returned. And, more insulting is Victorino continues to rack up the already $4.3 million in legal costs for a Mainland law firm (yes, you read that right) to fight this ridiculous position. Why, you may ask? It is because the EPA under the Trump Administration has radically departed with decades of both Democrat and Republican Administrations in its application of the CWA - particularly the permitting requirements. It's egregious to say the very least. But, Victorino now sees it as a way continue to irresponsibly pollute our West Maui waters. And, why not? He has a nothing to lose. After all, with the two new Trump appointees (Grouse and Kavanaugh), it's expected that the court will render an adverse decision that would water down the CWA (no pun intended) and allow a whole new level of polluters that this great country has never seen. It simply shocks the conscious.

In short, Maui should not be the test case that sets the legal precedence for a new class of polluters in the United States. Hawaii has nothing to gain and everything to lose if the Supreme Court renders an adverse decision in this case. And, industry experts believe because of the make up of the court (two Trump appointees), a fatal blow to the Clean Water Act will indeed be the result. Mayor Victorino has the ability and authority to withdraw this appeal and work with the plaintiffs to resolve this issue once and for all. The fact that he refuses to do so only underscores his belief that he can continue to run game on ALL OF US on Maui and the nation. Mayor Victorino should take his own advice and "stay vigilant" for our people of Maui, Hawaii, and the country. A'ole NO, mayor!

VALERIE BELEN MCKELVEY, Lahaina

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Take measures for fire protection

Recent fires... I am very concerned. I live in Lahaina and commute every day between the West Side and Central Maui. There is only one way in and out.

I see many problems. Many jurisdictions - the county has no power up to a point. The county should enforce laws where possible.

The state Department of Transportation says it's only responsible for 50 feet from the centerline of the highway. There should be buffer zones for power lines.

Drive the highway; see all the dry pasture land. Grub the land along the highway and make firebreaks. Maybe pass a law that landowners be more responsible and make firebreaks now! Lahaina fires last year caused two-and-a-half to three days with NO POWER! Maui Electric should be MORE ACCOUNTABLE to clear power poles and lines, as well as fiber optics.

I think people should be more in the fire prevention mode, since Honoapiilani Highway is the ONLY way in and out.

No excuses about money... no more talking! Take proactive measures NOW!

NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST

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Get involved in the community plan update

Over the next few months, CPAC members are updating the West Maui Community Plan. Get informed and involved; for the most up-to-date schedule, go to wearewestmaui@mauicounty.gov to find the topics and location of future meetings.

Limited to three minutes, public testimony is allowed. The following are excerpts of testimony submitted on July 25.

"Regarding a quote on page 1-9: 'Between 1860s and 1920s, Pioneer Mill Company's predecessors acquired the land of Hawaiian residents.' Please change the language in the community plan with full disclosure.

"Some land was only leased by Pioneer Mill Company's predecessors. In subsequent sales, leased lands were included with purchased lands of Hawaiian residents, resulting in the necessity of quiet title and quit claims today.

"Recently, a jury ruled in favor of Kaua'ula heirs, which proves Hawaiians have a legitimate grievance. However, due to insufficient documentation or lack of financial resources for court appeals, many kuleana heirs are discriminated against.

"How many Hawaiians are being swindled from family lands due to this unjust practice? How can the West Maui Community Plan address these questionable titled lands?

"Include statements in the community plan that these contentious land issues exist especially in agricultural zones. Being forthright about the issue may guard against unsuspecting investors that are unaware of the problem. It also recognizes the plight of Native Hawaiians and may help them obtain justice."

Pioneer Mill is only one of many large landholders that did this, so righting this wrong locally will have a far-reaching effect.

The following are excerpts of testimony from the Aug. 6 meeting.

"Updating the West Maui Community Plan will establish precedents for other communities to emulate. Remember, the West Maui Community Plan is an ordinance.

"Rather than mere guidance and suggestions, what you are working on is the law of the land. The CPAC could be instrumental in righting the wrongs that have proven to be "the source of an unhappy and much to be regretted legacy." (Lili'uokalani)

"Capable individuals working together can achieve the desired goals. The committee members represent the various interests of the community. As the foundation to build on, start every conversation of updating the plan with the premise of "love one another." That sentiment was unanimously expressed as the vision of the West Maui community.

"Currently, the community is pulled in different directions with various factions fighting. Preserving community unity requires reconciliation, forgiveness and love. Until the land issues are addressed and resolved, there is not much hope to achieve the community we desire.

"Work with legal counsel to put language in the community plan to prohibit quiet-title and quit-claim for the next 20 years. On questionable titled lands, allow for allodial heirs to reclaim family parcels without expensive appeals to the courts. If the parcels remain unclaimed or the heirs choose to relinquish rights, then put that land into a public trust.

"Public trust land shall be used for roads, parks, open space, forests, nature preserves, agriculture, schools, hospitals, municipal facilities and affordable housing in perpetuity.

"Make provisions to enable landholders to develop agriculture industries and affordable housing in perpetuity by working with kuleana heirs, former plantation employees and their heirs, and the current workforce.

"Apply the benefits of conservation and agriculture easements for land-trust housing to help compensate for the land's fair accessed value. The community plan can initiate protocol for the government, private sector and the public working together to establish viable agriculture and affordable housing in perpetuity.

"Lili'uokalani wrote about her faith in the 'Living God' and how 'He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes.' She forewarned a reckoning day would come, for 'God is not mocked.'

"While that is true, God allows this contingency plan. 'If they change, then I will change My plan about bringing disaster on them.' (Jeremiah 26:3)

"Those changes can be reflected in the revised West Maui Community Plan."

MICHELE LINCOLN, Lahaina

 
 

 

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