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Energy Hawaiians say ‘NO!’ to Green Energy

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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013 1:00 am

ANAHOLA — If local residents have their way, the Anahola Renewable Energy Project will be stopped dead in its tracks. Project supporters, however, are saying much of the opposition is being fueled by misinformation and rumors.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is proposing to lease more than 2,000 acres of Anahola lands to Green Energy Team, LLC of Kaua‘i for the purpose of clearing existing albizia trees for its planned biomass-to-energy facility near Koloa.

More than 200 residents, mostly from Anahola, showed strong opposition to the project — concerned that the lease would privatize Hawaiian homestead lands — at a Beneficiary Consultation  meeting held Friday evening at Anahola Clubhouse.

“With this lease, even a blind man can see, we’ll never get our lands back,” Joe Borden, the newly-elected president of the Anahola Farmers and Ranchers group, said prior to Friday’s gathering.

Tempers flared during the event — which lacked any sort of control by the meeting’s organizer, DHHL — with people screaming over one another from start to finish.

“Somebody along the way recommended this as a good deal for Hawaiians,” Anahola resident Shane Cobb-Adams said. “And I want to know who they are … It’s a bad idea.”

The 30-year proposed lease is for 2,143 acres of land belonging to native Hawaiians under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920. If approved, the land would be used for clearing trees and replanting and harvesting biomass feedstock, which would be delivered to Green Energy’s state-of-the-art, $90 million facility.

Construction of the facility near the Knudsen Gap is scheduled to begin this year. When finished, it is expected to provide enough electricity to power 8,500 households, replacing 3.7 million gallons annually of imported oil, as previously reported by The Garden Island.

Erik Knutzen, co-founder of Green Energy, said Friday’s consultation was an important opportunity to provide information and allow the community to voice its concerns — which were plentiful.

“We heard everyone’s voice, and that’s important,” he said. “It’s not unusual when people first hear these things, that they create rumors.”

Knutzen said there is a lot of misinformation circulating regarding the proposal. The main objective is to clear the land — now deemed “unusable” for agriculture or ranching because of invasive albizia trees — and establish homesteading agricultural lots, he said.

“The Green Energy Project is only the shovel,” he said. “It’s their lands, and they can use the shovel to get to their vision of homesteading.”

In an email to all board members of Anahola Hawaiian Homes Association, the president of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Robin Danner, described the behavior at Friday’s meeting as “horrible.”

Danner, who is also AHHA’s secretary, said if the project is not carried out, the lands will remain unusable for another 20 years and not be issued for homesteading to beneficiaries on the waiting list.

“It’s too late for homesteaders of my generation to become farmers (we’re too old), but it’s not too late for the next generation,” she wrote in the email.

In addition to clearing the invasive trees and providing annual lease revenue, the proposal includes a Community Benefit Agreement to maximize value to the impacted community and its beneficiaries.

AHHA Board Member and former Kaua‘i County Councilman KipuKai Kuali‘i said he is in favor of the plan and believes the majority of others would be too if they had the correct information.

“I’m supporting it basically because it’s smart, it’s green, it’s renewable, it’s efficient use of the land,” said Kuali‘i, adding that the land right now is unusable.

The complaints Friday by local residents were “premature and unfounded,” he said.

“I just think that this is a great opportunity for positive things to happen,” Kuali‘i said. “It’s hard to find those truly win-win situations, but this is one of them.”

Kekane Pa, an elected Nobel of the Reinstated Hawaiian Government and one of the most outspoken opponents during Friday’s meeting, disagreed, saying the proposal is only part of a much larger “dog and pony show.”

“How is it possible that these people, who don’t have Hawaiian blood or qualify under federal regulations, can qualify for land leases?” he asked. “Our objection to this proposal has nothing to do with the Knudsens. It all has to do with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands.”

Pa said only 2 percent of the money generated from the project would go to the beneficiaries, while the rest would go to Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative and Green Energy.

“Why would the Hawaiian people — who are not federally recognized — agree to giving (up) the land, (when) in return they get only 2 percent?” he asked. “It’s about corporate greed, 98 percent for the corporation and 2 percent for the beneficiary.”

Kuali‘i argues that the 2 percent does not represent the total benefit to the Hawaiian people.

“The 2 percent is just the piece that is literally going back to the neighborhoods … for educational programs, job training programs, maybe maintaining the (picnic area).”

Other concerns raised at Friday’s meeting include the environmental impacts of planting what one person described as “nitrogen-sucking” eucalyptus trees; control of water; a lack of outreach and information from AHHA and Green Energy; the impact to current lessees; and how the project will affect recreational users, including hunters and dirt-bike riders.

“How much more land are you going to take?” a man repeated more than a dozen times.

“How come you feel like you got to help us so bad?” another man screamed from the audience. “Why Anahola?”

The public is invited to comment on the proposed energy project at one of two public hearings on Kaua‘i before the Hawaiian Homes Commission later this week.

The meetings are scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School in Hanama‘ulu, and Friday at 9 a.m.  at Aston Aloha Beach Hotel in Kapa‘a.

Call Linda Chinn at (808) 620-9451 for more information about the hearings.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • wahineokekai posted at 12:29 pm on Sun, Aug 17, 2014.

    wahineokekai Posts: 1

    People are smart to be wary of any project that Robin Danner is backing! You can be sure she's only backing it because there's something in it for her. Some good investigative reporting is needed to track down the $ connection of the Danner sisters to this proposed project - like what Keala Kelly did in uncovering the payments they and CNHA received from the Alaska oil industry for trying to convince Hawaiians to support drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Shame on them for that attack on the sacred lands of the Gwich'in and Inupiat people! And just to line their pockets at the expense of native people of Alaska.

    Some good investigative reporting might also uncover why the Danners went to the top of the list in receiving DHHL land in Anahola, while others have waited decades! And how are they even eligible? Do they actually have 50% blood quantum? Their father was haole with no Hawaiian in his ancestry at all - and are we to believe that their mother was 100% Hawaiian without one drop of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese or anything else? Highly unlikely!

    I wasn't there so can't comment on the behavior of the attendees at the meeting, but I can certainly understand the frustration of the community.

  • cousin posted at 6:50 pm on Mon, Mar 11, 2013.

    cousin Posts: 20

    Misinformation campaigns are so prevalent now due to masses of money coming from companies that might loose income, vested interests in areas not clearly in view, but nonetheless powerful in the ability to flood the issue with lies. Sometimes this is a result of collusion between two or more entities that may not find an issue profitable if it were to get a start. We see this endlessly on mainland where the nuclear industry, oil industry, and countless corporate interests begin misinformation campaigns that blaze out of control with a distinct premium on keeping the truth out of the discussion. Be very aware that this is the new engagement on the public discourse, a well funded and unnoticed campaign of misinformation that swells the public emotion with lies and misinformation that spreads out of control and takes the issue out of the hands of thinking public discussion, placing it in the hands of firebrands.
    Search out the truth and confirm, state and know the sources to all.

  • AuntyA posted at 4:51 pm on Mon, Mar 11, 2013.

    AuntyA Posts: 1

    The Native Hawaiians and all Polynesians have always been "Green"! It wasn't until the Westerners came that we became "Un-Green". We have revolutionize and changed our outlook on nutrition and cultural farming and gone back to our ancestors ways of living with a renewed and educated attitude, combined with modern, and innovative implementation.
    We just don't want Corporate Privatized leases anymore on our lands. We know what happened with the Big Five when they came in and poisoned and wasted our lands and water for their own selfish and profitable needs.
    We are educated now and we will not be fooled again. We need honest, trustworthy and non-selfserving leaders to light the way. We need to see the profits going back to the Homesteaders with reduced electric bills or better yet...NO electric bill. We need to see a PONO TEAM that creates renewable energy on the East or North side of the island NOT on the South side, that's just not smart.

  • nate_808 posted at 1:28 pm on Mon, Mar 11, 2013.

    nate_808 Posts: 33

    Shame on DHHL for not being better prepared and shame on most of the attendees for conducting themselves in a childlike manner. You wonder why we cannot move foward with forming our own independent nation. DHHL doesn't have the funds to clear the Albiza trees thus them having to trade lease of our land for the clearing to it. It's a shame that the land got to this point, the green energy company has agreed to clear a large portion of ag land that will be able to be provided to leases. Hawaiians win as more usable land will become available.

  • gorgeous posted at 12:55 pm on Mon, Mar 11, 2013.

    gorgeous Posts: 56

    There are so many ranchers that would and still want to lease these lands for pasture but Kaipo Duncan from Hawaiian Homes cannot seem to come up with a solution to allow it to happen, so please do not say this is "unuseable" lands. Robin Danner, do you come from Anahola from birth? Anaholan's are a special breed of people and will always be. Yeah to all of you who said NO!!!!

  • sgoold posted at 10:46 am on Mon, Mar 11, 2013.

    sgoold Posts: 477

    Nobody said NO to green energy ... they said NO to using this particular plot of land. Sheesh!!!

  • Kupuna posted at 8:00 am on Mon, Mar 11, 2013.

    Kupuna Posts: 5

    This project while it may smell nice and right does not meet the taste nor pulse of the community. This project failed to communicate openly with transparency to the Native Hawaiian beneficiaries from its inception. How was it that Robin Danner became to voice of Anahola? Who are AHHA and HCDC? While some would assert the word "Horrible" as Danner claimed who's to blame the people for their position given DHHL continues to give land to all others accept the very people they were entrusted to serve. There is a saying and one that fits this article well. "If you give a man a fish to eat he'll live for a day. But teach him to fish and he'll live forever." Erik Knudsen and Danner need to take their project on private lands and let Hawaiians deal with what little they have left. Danner will never farm all she wants is "control" on lands. Ao'le pilikia.


  • tunataxi posted at 7:41 am on Mon, Mar 11, 2013.

    tunataxi Posts: 791

    The Hawaiians have spoken...they don't want it...it's their decision now give them what they deserve. As a longtime transplant I am ashamed of how the Government has treated the Native Hawaiians. I've lived my entire adult life here and have not seen them given THEIR lands....shameful


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