HB1326 – Pulling back the curtain on corporate water theft

While the rank and file membership in the House may be able to claim they were not fully aware of the facts and circumstances that are driving this measure, the same cannot be said for State Senators who are poised to cast their votes.

By now, every legislator knows that the passing of HB1326 benefits Alexander and Baldwin (A&B) to the tune of $62,000,000.  Any legislator paying attention to this issue also knows that the threat of water loss to small farmers, ranchers and hydro producers, is pure shibai.

And, to make absolutely sure every single legislator in the building knows that HB1326 needs to be sent to the dumpster, this past Monday the Democratic Party of Hawaii delivered a letter to legislators and the governor, in strong opposition.

HB1326 has come to symbolize a public litmus test of values.  As my friend Eric Gill has reminded me over and over again, “It’s about interests, not issues”.

The core question that will be answered by legislators when the votes are eventually cast, is basic and fundamental, “Whose interests do you serve?”.

A watershed moment really – as it is rare at the legislature that the curtain is pulled back.  Normally the structure and process is managed in such a way that members are never “exposed”.  In this case, that outcome is no longer possible. While some will likely be intentionally absent from the vote, and others will attempt to shield themselves behind “WR’s”, political exposure on this issue is now unavoidable.

HB1326 (corporate water theft bill) will be scheduled very soon for a committee hearing in the Senate. 

When the hearing is scheduled, we will need your testimony and we will need you to show up.  

The message is simple – kill the bill. No amount of amendment can fix this. HB1326 is fundamentally a give-a-way of public resources to corporate interests.  A&B and all who earn a profit from selling public resources, must simply follow the rules.

Lawmakers Should Reject A&B’s Water Rights Bill’ “There is a legal process for requesting access to public lands for the purpose of diverting some of the people’s water for private use. This process is designed to ensure the watershed is protected, stream ecosystems are not harmed, and the public is properly compensated for the use of public trust resources. The Department of Land and Natural Resources and any entity seeking to divert water away from the public should be made to follow this process.”  Read entire Civil Beat article HERE

State Democratic Party of Hawaii opposes ‘corporate water theft bill’ “The increasingly unpopular HB1326 – the so-called “Corporate Water Theft” bill, currently languishing in the Senate – took another hit over the weekend. In a letter to legislators, the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i has officially declared its opposition to the proposed bill…The action puts state senators in the awkward position of voting against their own party if they decide to support the bill.” Read entire Maui Times article HERE

 

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person. I presently serve now as a volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org In a past life I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator and Majority Leader and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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4 Responses to HB1326 – Pulling back the curtain on corporate water theft

  1. Mike says:

    Thanks for your guidance to Hawaii residents on this issue.

  2. John day says:

    Isn’t this simply the land where Shan Tsutsui, is leading a plan to grow food in central maui, and they need water for the process? And if so , wouldn’t that money be needed to fund that process, bringing food to the residents of Maui?

    • garyhooser says:

      Water in Hawaii is a public trust resource. In general terms: Any entity that wants to divert a stream and use the water, must secure a permit/lease to do so. This process entails requesting a specific amount of water that is needed, and for what purpose. The process also entails a determination of the impacts of that diversion to the natural habitat from which it was taken, and the impacts on “down stream users”. A&B was ordered by a court to accomplish these tasks and then secured essentially a 3 years extension of the process from the legislature. That 3 year period is coming to a close and now A&B (which no longer owns the land) via these new bills, is asking for an additional 7 years to complete the process. The original bill proposed to give them an unlimited amount of time to obtain the proper permit/lease. Any entity that is diverting stream water, especially for commercial purposes (no matter how noble) needs to do it in a matter that abides by the Hawaii Constitution. Further, it is my understanding that there is nothing preventing Mahi Pono from growing food utilizing the water that they already have access to, and in fact they have a plan to do so.

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