Some in the Senate seem willing to trade outright the integrity of our law making process and the preservation of our natural environment for a $62,000,000 benefit to a private corporation.
We are again hearing rumblings there is an effort being discussed to bring HB1326 HD2 back to the floor, and to a full vote this Tuesday, April 30th.
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In my 20 years of experience in government, politics and policy-making, House Bill 1326 is the most egregious example of special-interest legislation I have ever seen.
Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) stands to gain or lose $62 million, depending on the outcome of HB 1326. In essence, it is attempting to sell public trust water rights derived from stream diversions in east Maui. The intended beneficiary of this transaction is Mahi Pono — a California-based LLC, financed by a Canadian pension fund — which recently purchased the majority of A&B lands on Maui.
One fairly significant problem with this proposal is that A&B neither owns, nor has long-term control over this water.
In Hawaii, whether beneath the ground or flowing through our rivers and streams, water is a public trust resource. Businesses may use the resource, but must secure a permit that ensures sufficient water remains in the stream to preserve its natural ecosystem and that down-stream users also have access.
Yet this one company, the last remnant of the “Big 5” plantation era, and arguably the most politically powerful private landowner in Hawaii, is attempting, with the Legislature’s help, to secure those water rights without securing the proper long-term permits, and then transfer those water rights to Mahi Pono — pocketing a cool $62 million in the process. READ ENTIRE PIECE AS PUBLISHED IN THE HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER ON THE HOOSER BLOG HERE
For some excellent legal analysis on why no one except A&B needs this bill, please see the following statements from some of Hawaii’s pre-eminent water law experts, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation and Earthjustice.
If you for some reason you remain unconvinced that HB1326 is not needed at all, please also READ HERE clear proof that the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) did not think HB1326 was necessary and has never supported its passage (until of course the governor decided to interject himself into the discussion on behalf of A&B).
I ask again, one more time and perhaps (but no guarantees) the final ask for the 2019 legislative session.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance and urgency, and ask that you Call AND Email YOUR Senator and let him/her know you are paying attention and do not support the Senate resurrecting HB 1326 HD2. Please ask him/her to stand with the people and not corporate interests.
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Join us also on Tuesday in the Senate Gallery. Meet at the Queen Liliuokalani Statue at 9:30am. Senate Floor session starts at 10am. We will not know whether this attempt by the pro A&B faction will be attempted or not, until the day concludes. However we are hearing strong rumors and know that $62,000,000 and the public trust are in competition on this day, and every day until the end of the legislative session on May 2.
Image courtesy of Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation
“The late Sammy Akina was a kalo famer from East Maui. He fought and waited for decades for water to be restored to the streams so he could farm kalo to feed his ʻohana. He died without seeing the justice he sacrificed his life for.
Help us carry on his legacy by taking action against A&B’s water theft bill. Stop the harm to East Maui communities and end HB 1326 HD2 now.