Environment

News stories regarding Molokai’s outdoor environment

Coastal Cleanup Removes Tons of Trash

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Coastal Cleanup Removes Tons of Trash

A collective, multi-organization effort to removing marine debris from Molokai’s north shore this summer resulted in removing 16 tons of litter from the island. Volunteers from Department of Land and Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, National Park Service and Sustainable Coastlines work to collect rubbish. Photo courtesy of Hawaii DLNR

DLNR News Release

Scattered across an expansive coastline of valleys, sea cliffs, boulders, and beaches, is a problem that affects everyone.

“It doesn’t matter the name you give it, marine debris, ocean litter, coastal trash, or where it came from,” said Molokai’s James Espaniola of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).…

Third Time a Charm for Mo`omomi Cleanup

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Third Time a Charm for Mo`omomi Cleanup

Kama Han, center left, and Mac Poepoe work to cut off fishing gear while Kahi Pacarro, center, and young assistants look on during the Mo’omomi beach cleanup. Photo by Leo Azambuja

By Léo Azambuja, Special to The Molokai Dispatch

Molokai residents and volunteers picked up thousands of pounds of trash in the third annual Molokai Cleanup at Mo`omomi Beach Aug. 13. It was a considerable increase in weight collected compared to both previous cleanups at this pristine beach on the island’s northwest coast.

“This year, there was way more (trash),” said Kahi Pacarro, executive director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, the nonprofit organization that put the event together.…

NextEra Electric Merger Rejected

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

A $4.3 billion merger deal between Hawaiian Electric Companies and Florida-based NextEra Energy was rejected last week by the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Many Molokai residents, along with others around the state, had raised concerns about the merger and what it could mean for Hawaii’s energy future. Commissioners of the PUC shared many of those concerns in the decision they issued last Friday.

Commissioners based their rejection on two major factors: whether the merger was in the public interest, and if the utility company was fit and able to perform the service currently offered. The PUC identified five major areas of concern: 1) benefits to ratepayers; 2) risks to ratepayers; 3) Applicants’ clean energy commitments; 4) the proposed Change of Control’s effect on local governance; and 5) the proposed Change of Control’s effect on competition in local energy markets.…

Preventing Zika Infection on Molokai

Friday, July 8th, 2016

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Mosquito-borne viruses are making headlines lately, and while Zika hasn’t yet made an appearance in Hawaii, the state has been identified as one of the country’s higher risk areas for the disease. According to Dr. Lorrin Pang, an MD with the Hawaii Department of Health’s Maui District Health Office, Zika has reached “crisis proportions” in many countries, and he visited Molokai to educate residents on the disease and preventative measures.

Zika, pronounced “zeeka,” is a virus carried by mosquitos and while many viruses carry nasty symptoms, Pang said 80 percent of the time, a Zika-infected person won’t even know they’re sick.…

A Bird in the Hand Volunteers band shearwater shorebirds

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

A Bird in the Hand Volunteers band shearwater shorebirds

Photo by Catherine Cluett Pactol

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

As dusk fell on the Mo`omomi coastline, silhouetted birds began to swoop over the shore and across the grasses and native plants of the dunes. Donning their headlamps, a dozen biologists, conservationists and volunteers stood by, waiting for the birds to settle. Then, in the pitch blackness and gusty wind, the group broke into small teams and vanished into the darkness.

Brandishing their flashlights and tools, the teams searched the ground for piles of sand and holes that would indicate a burrow. The inhabitants pf the holes are Wedge-tailed Shearwater, or `Ua`u kani, an indigenous shorebird with gray-brown and white feathers, a long, hooked beak and a wingspan of more than three feet.…

35 Years of Agriculture

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

35 Years of Agriculture

A recent Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture (DOA) land use study shows dramatic changes in agriculture land use in the last 35 years, both on Molokai and statewide. Most of Molokai’s agriculture is in the Ho`olehua area, on DHHL, state and Molokai Ranch land. According to the DOA report, the largest ag land users in 2015 — farming about 2,300 acres — are seed companies that primarily lease from Molokai Ranch. Prior to 1980, many Ho`olehua homesteaders leased their land for pineapple production, while some of that land today is being used to grow diversified crops like sweet potatoes, dryland taro, vegetables, macadamia nuts, bananas and papayas, according to the study.…

Unresolved Solar Applications Pile Up

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

 

More than 100 applications to install rooftop solar on Molokai remain pending at the hands of Maui Electric, according to a company representative. This delay as been reprimanded by Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Chair Randall Iwase, who issued a statement last week expressing dissatisfaction in the holdups on Molokai to approve and connect new rooftop solar.

“I am disappointed with several recent events that affect new renewable energy projects in the Hawaiian Electric Companies… which may also work against the goals of lowering electric rates for all customers and achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045,” he wrote.

In February of last year, Iwase and the president of Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) signed a letter of agreement stating in part that “the policy is that the HECO Companies have an affirmative duty to interconnect a potential customer pursuant to existing statutory requirements, commission orders, and the utility’s tariff where that project does not affect circuit or system level security and reliability.”

Iwase said he believes HECO and subsidiary Maui Electric may not be upholding their end of the agreement.…

Study on Electric Utility Suggests ‘Paradigm Shift’

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

A recent study on Maui County’s electric utility could play a large role in shaping the future of Molokai’s electric service. The independent study, contracted by the county to consulting company Guernsey, examined alternate forms of electric utility ownership and operation models. Released two weeks ago, it recommended that Maui County seek an Independent Systems Operator (ISO) or Regional Transmission Operator (RTO) to oversee the electric grid and energy market.

“The County desires to move to 100 percent renewable and sustainable energy as quickly as practicable, and has concerns about the prospects of this progress under the status quo,” states the study.…

Diving Accident Claims Life of Paramedic

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Diving Accident Claims Life of Paramedic

A 26-year-old paramedic from Molokai died in a freediving accident last Saturday on the island’s west end. Steven “Keku” Likua went diving with friends off Kaiaka Rock at about 3 p.m. He was last seen an hour later, approximately 300 yards off shore, wearing a camouflage wet suit with fins, snorkel and mask, according to police. When the other divers emerged, Likua did not, and after searching the area, friends reported him missing. Local emergency responders got the call around 6:20 p.m., and notified the Coast Guard to join efforts.

After an extensive search of the shoreline Saturday night yielded no results, firefighters suspended the search at 9:30 p.m., according to the Maui Fire Department.…

Celebration Through Donation

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Celebration Through Donation

For 80 years, Molokai Drugs has doled out over-the-counter remedies to thousands of island residents. This year, however, the island’s only pharmacy is tending to the health of a unique customer: Molokai High’s ailing fleet of school buses.

To celebrate their milestone anniversary, the owners of Molokai Drugs donated a new 14-passenger bus to the high school, which spent nearly $15,000 last year in bus repairs alone.

To thank the community for 80 years of aloha, Molokai Drugs donated a much-needed bus for students. Photo by Lee DeRouin

The brand-new vehicle, which will be used on Maui, is a start to replacing a collection of buses that over the years have cost the school thousands of dollars, delayed numerous trips and limited the number of students and equipment that teams can take off island.…