Hawaiʻi’s mayors oppose Trump Administration repeal of Clean Power Plan

City and County of Honolulu
County of Maui
County of Hawaiʻi
County of Kauaʻi

Hawaiʻi’s mayors oppose Trump Administration repeal of Clean Power Plan

Honolulu, Hilo, Wailuku, and Līhuʻe — Leaders from the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaiʻi County, Maui County, and Kauaʻi County have joined 233 mayors, from 46 US states and territories, representing over 51 million Americans to oppose the Trump Administration’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP).

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, and Kauaʻi County Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. all signed onto a letter in opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.[1]

“The Clean Power Plan is a fundamental building block in the nation’s response to climate change, and was a hallmark achievement of the EPA under the Obama Administration,” said Mayor Caldwell. “The Clean Power Plan encourages communities to embrace a future that will lead to new opportunities, cutting edge technology and higher paying jobs. This is a vision the City and County of Honolulu has embraced and it’s already paying dividends through sound planning for new infrastructure.”

With over a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions coming from the electricity sector, the four mayors recognize that the Clean Power Plan is essential to the United States’ ability to curb future GHG emissions and live up to its commitments under the Paris Agreement. All four mayors previously joined Governor David Ige on June 5, 2017 to commit to uphold the Paris Agreement just days after President Donald J. Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from the international accord to address global warming.

“It is important for the federal government to lead our transition to a cleaner, healthier, more affordable, and more resilient energy future,” said County of Hawai‘i Mayor Kim. “The Clean Power Plan is a step in the right direction and is aligned with local efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, improve energy efficiency, and use renewable energy sources. This is a mission that we must all be a part of.”

Signing the letter signals Hawaiʻi’s continued commitment to transition away from dependence on fossil fuels and reinforces a 2015 state law that requires 100 percent of Hawaiʻi’s electricity to be generated by renewable sources by 2045. Hawaiʻi’s 2045 goal was the nation’s first such benchmark.

“The benefit of the Clean Power Plan is twofold: Providing direct health benefit from avoiding air pollutants from combustion, along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” stated Maui Mayor Arakawa. “It is gratifying to stand in solidarity with so many mayors at the local level, where power plants pollute, and continue down the path of a cleaner future.”

Hawaiʻi is the only state that entirely supports the Climate Mayors network through its four mayors’ participation. In signing this letter opposing repeal of the CPP, they are joined by other members of the Climate Mayor’s network (climatemayors.org), which includes Los Angeles, Houston, Portland, New York, and Puerto Rico.

“Kaua‘i County is working hard to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions because we understand the cost of inaction. Everyone – at all levels of government, from small towns, to states, all the way up to our federal government, needs to be a part of this,” stated Mayor Carvalho Jr. “The Clean Power Plan is a key piece of that effort across the U.S.”

The actions announced today by the chief executives of the four counties are in alignment with the state of Hawaiʻi’s recent commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement that seeks to reduce GHG emissions and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Sea level rise is contributing to coastal erosion that recently destroyed part of a historic cemetery on Maui and caused a bike path on the North Shore of Oʻahu at Sunset Beach to partially collapse; and according to the recently published Hawaiʻi Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaption Report, the expected future sea level rise is estimated to cost $19 billion in “loss of land and structures” along with 6,500 flooded structures, 38 miles of flooded major roads, and 19,800 displaced people.[2]

On December 12, 2017, the four mayors came together on the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa in committing to transform Hawaiʻi’s public and private ground transportation to 100 percent renewable fuel sources by 2045.


The Clean Power Plan was originally proposed in August 2015. It was a signature policy achievement of the EPA under the Obama Administration, and was shaped by years of unprecedented outreach and public engagement.

Shortly after issuance of the final rule, 27 states, led by current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in his prior capacity as Attorney General of Oklahoma, challenged the CPP on a range of legal and technical concerns. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the CPP in response, immediately halting implementation in February 2016.

On October 10, 2017, the EPA filed its proposal to repeal the Plan. Governor Ige posted a statement opposing the Trump Administration’s proposal to repeal on October 11, 2017.



[1] 82 Fed. Reg. 48,035 (Oct. 16, 2017), EPA–HQ–OAR–2017–0355.

[2] See Hawaiʻi Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report at http://climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/

Star-Advertiser: Residents vow to fight Dillingham Ranch subdivision

Dillingham Ranch, shown in the red lines, covers 2,700 acres in Mokuleia and includes low-lying lands with equestrian facilities and rugged mountain terrain.

North Shore residents have unleashed a sweeping condemnation of a plan to subdivide Dillingham Ranch for housing while somewhat expanding agriculture on the historic 2,721-acre property in Mokuleia.

The opposition flowed from roughly 350 people at a special North Shore Neighborhood Board meeting Wednesday night to discuss the development plan that was first presented a decade ago and revised three times since then.

Representatives of ranch owner and subdivision proposer Kennedy Wilson Inc., a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based real estate investment and development firm, told the crowd gathered inside a Waialua Community Association wooden gym building Wednesday that the plan for the ranch, which dates to 1897, would benefit the community and deserved support.

Yet community members rejected the suggestion and vowed to fight the $60 million to $80 million project, which would create 70 house lots on land zoned for agriculture.

“This is going to be the death knell to the North Shore,” said Kristin Douglas. “That is immoral. That is wrong. Shame on you.”

Waialua resident James Frisbie chastised Kennedy Wilson for trying to maximize the value of ranch land it bought in 2006 and serving wealthy folks interested in buying house lots that would have to sell for around $1 million or more for the developer to break even. “The rich have enough,” he said. “This project benefits the rich, not the public, not the future.”

Other concerns from residents include Kennedy Wilson inflating the price of farmland, making farming less viable; degrading traffic; and encouraging other developers to pursue similar projects instead of going through a more difficult land rezoning process.

Dave Eadie, a Kennedy Wilson official, and consultant Scott Ezer, with local planning firm HHF Planners, led off the meeting with a presentation and sat through most of the 2-1/2-hour event listening to exclusively negative feedback from about 40 community members who addressed them and often drew applause. Board members also were critical, and voted 13-0 to oppose the plan. And one disgruntled person flipped a table that sent the developer’s computer presentation equipment crashing to the gym floor as the meeting ended.

The meeting followed a presentation to the board by Eadie and Ezer in June before Kennedy Wilson published a draft environmental impact statement in January that describes the subdivision plan in detail. At the June meeting the board held off on taking a position.

Under the plan Kennedy Wilson would sell house lots mainly between 3 and 10 acres each and require buyers to plant fruit trees on 1 to 3 acres of their property within three years. The company said it would give each buyer $9,000 to $20,550 for planting, and anticipates that some buyers will hire orchard managers and perhaps form a commercial cooperative.

Haleiwa woodworking artist Jennifer Homcy ridiculed that notion. “If I had the kind of money to buy a $1.5 million acre lot and build a giant ‘ranchion’ (ranch-style mansion) for myself, do you think I want a bunch of farmers coming to my property every day to farm it?” she said. “Come on!”

Homcy also questioned a part of Kennedy Wilson’s farm plan that would discount initial rents for commercial operators taking over existing Dillingham Ranch equestrian activities, cattle ranching, a mango orchard and palm tree plantation as tenants of a new homeowners association.

Homcy wanted to know how much of a discount would be given and for how long. Neighborhood board member Roberts “Bob” Leinau pointed out that a homeowners association can amend its rules and that the risk of homeowners discontinuing farming is big.

“The guys we’re talking to tonight, when they sell the last lot, they’re out of here,” Leinau said.

Kennedy Wilson’s farm plan is the linchpin to gaining regulatory approval for the project because homes on farmland are allowed only as accessories to agricultural activity under state law. The city Department of Planning and Permitting decides whether to issue subdivision permits, but has to if a viable plan exists for agriculture associated with the lots. Viable isn’t well defined in regulations, but the state Department of Agriculture, which objected to prior versions of Kennedy Wilson’s plan, said the current version complies.

Other parts of the new farm plan include installing irrigation for some cattle pastures, the palm plantation and mango orchard. The developer also would establish a 5-acre hydroponic vegetable farm leased to a farmer at an initial discount while also providing $50,000 a year for 10 years so an instructor can train students from schools that could include Waialua High and Intermediate and the University of Hawaii.

“All in all, I think it’s a supportable plan,” Eadie said. “It’s something that is reasonable.”

Some community members expressed concern about DPP approving the subdivision after the community and the neighborhood board, which is an advisory body, submits comments on the draft environmental report. But others vowed to fight, and suggested that they implore the Legislature to change state law governing farm dwellings, raise money to buy the ranch and find lawyers to contest the project if approved.

“This is going to be another Hokulia,” proclaimed Waialua resident Mike Biechler, referring to a Hawaii island subdivision of homes and a golf course on farmland that included a coffee tree component and ended up in bankruptcy after years of litigation.

Added neighborhood board member Bill Martin, “We need to kill this project.”

Climate Change Commissioners sworn in






Honolulu – A swearing in ceremony was held today in Honolulu Hale for the five members of the new Climate Change Commission: Rosanna ‘Anolani Alegado, Makena Coffman, Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher, Victoria Keener, and Bettina Mehnert. Mayor Kirk Caldwell appointed all five commission members, who were confirmed by the Honolulu City Council earlier in the day.

Mayor Caldwell, Managing Director Roy K. Amemiya Jr. and Deputy Managing Director Georgette Deemer attended the ceremony after the oath of office was administered to the five commission members, thus affirming their positions as officers of the city.

The Climate Change Commission was created after O‘ahu voters approved an amendment to the City Charter in the 2016 general election that mandated the creation of the new panel. The role of the Climate Change Commission is to gather the latest science and information on climate change impacts to Hawai‘i and provide advice and recommendations to Mayor Caldwell, executive departments and the City Council as they look to draft policy and engage in planning for future climate scenarios.

“The five members of the Climate Change Commission are experts in their respective fields and will have a tremendous impact on our island city as we embark on a new era of sustainability and resiliency in the face of sea level rise and increased storm risk,” said Mayor Caldwell. “I thank each of them for taking on this volunteer role and I know their hard work will result in progress that will benefit our residents for decades to come.”

Commission members have agreed to meet at least once every month with the first meeting scheduled on Wednesday, February 7, at 3 p.m. in the City Council Meeting Room in Honolulu Hale.

“Our office is thrilled that Mayor Caldwell has selected a diverse group of global and local climate experts to this important commission and that the City Council confirmed all of them unanimously,” said Josh Stanbro, executive director of the city’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, who also serves as the city’s Chief Resilience Officer. “It is critical that we base our policies on data and the latest science in order to protect our quality of life and O‘ahu’s economy for the long-term.”


Climate Change Commission members:

Rosanna ‘Anolani Alegado, PhD

Rosie Alegado’s lab investigates the role of microbes across spatial and temporal scales. By bringing together microbial ecologists and biogeochemists her group examines the influence of microbial communities on coastal ocean processes, especially in light of a changing climate. A recent project in her lab involves using indigenous historical records to reconstruct Hawaiian regional climate beyond conventional instrument records in collaboration with the International Pacific Research Center and Puakea Nogelmeier at the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language.

Makena Coffman, PhD

Makena Coffman is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her research interests include greenhouse gas mitigation, energy policy and alternative transportation strategies. Coffman is a Research Fellow with the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) and has worked extensively with state and county governments on issues of greenhouse gas policy and climate action planning. 

Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher, PhD

Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, and Professor of Geology and Geophysics. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses emphasizing Earth Science and Climate Change on Pacific Islands. Over 30 graduate and undergraduate students have received degrees in his research group. Fletcher engages in community service and is the recipient of several awards, including the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching (twice), the U.S. EPA Environmental Achievement Award in Climate Change Science, the Hung Wo and Elizabeth Lau Ching Foundation Award for Faculty Service to the Community, and the Robert W. Clopton Award for Distinguished Community Service. Fletcher is also a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.

Victoria Keener, PhD

Victoria Keener is the Lead Principal Investigator of the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program, and earned a PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from the University of Florida, specializing in hydro-climatological research dealing with the effects of climate variability. Keener coordinates an interdisciplinary team of social and physical scientists that aims to reduce the vulnerability of Pacific Island communities to climate change by translating academic research into actionable knowledge for a variety of stakeholders at the local, state, and regional level – especially regarding the management of fresh water resources. She is the Lead Editor and a Chapter Author for the 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) report and the lead author of the Pacific Islands Chapter of the forthcoming 4th U.S. National Climate Assessment.

Bettina Mehnert, FAIA, LEED AP O+M

A sustainability-focused community business leader, Bettina Mehnert is president and CEO of the design firm AHL and has multiple national leadership roles with the Urban Land Institute, and locally with Hawaiʻi Green Growth, the Sustainable Business Forum and the Aloha + Challenge. Under her leadership AHL has been recognized as a top firm nationally and locally, including being named by the publication Engineering News-Record as one of the top 100 Green firms in the U.S. She was also instrumental in launching AHL’s one percent Pro Bono Program, where nonprofits receive pro bono architectural services that result in significant advancement of programs such as the Rain Forest Pavilion for the Hawai‘i Nature Center and the Rooftop Food and Job Training Garden for the Institute for Human Services.

Honolulu launches electric bus pilot project

It’s official! The first zero-emission electric bus in Hawai‘i has arrived! This Proterra bus will be tested on 23 city routes as a pilot project for The Bus. Thank you to our Honolulu county leadership for taking this important step towards 100% clean ground transportation. Photo by Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency


Above: Press Conference with Mayor Caldwell, the Department of Transportation Services, Oahu Transit Services, the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency, Councilmembers Elefante, Manahan, and Fukunaga, Hawaiian Electric Company, Proterra, Blue Planet Foundation, and the Sierra Club O‘ahu Group.

Media coverage:


City unveils electric bus


City unveils new electric bus pilot project for city fleet

Hawai‘i News Now:

Hawaii’s new electric bus pilot project unveiled


Support for new Climate Change Commissioners

The 2016 Charter Amendment that created Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency also resulted in the formation of a “Climate Change Commission.” The Climate Change Commission consists of five members with “expertise in climate change in Hawai‘i, which shall meet no less than twice annually for the purpose of gathering the latest science and information on climate change effects in the city and providing advice as is deemed appropriate to the executive for climate change and sustainability, the mayor, council and executive departments of the city.” (2016 General Election Charter Amendment Question No. 7)

We submitted the following testimony in support for the confirmation of all 5 Commissioner appointments before the January PWIS Committee meeting:

Should the city send its recyclables to H-Power and can we create a composting facility?

Aloha O‘ahu Group supporters! We continue discussing waste issues at Honolulu Hale and 2018 started with a Public Works, Infrastructure, and Sustainability Committee hearing about our recycling program, H-power, and options for commercial composting.

Resolution 17-311 recommends we send our recyclables to H-Power for incineration. Please see our written testimony in OPPOSITION below:

We also testified in SUPPORT for Resolution 17-340, at this hearing. This Resolution urges the city to develop commercial composting facilities able to process solid waste that is currently going to H-Power, including single-use disposable food containers. This measure resulted from ongoing discussion to ban EPS foam food containers and mandate compostable food containers for restaurants and other retailers. Resolution 17-340 was also deferred in the committee meeting, pending a site visit to Hawaii Earth Recycling, which is a facility that currently processes our curbside recycling green bins (garden and yard waste) and could potentially be upgraded to accept a wider variety of compostable materials (other food waste, newspaper and cardboard, compostable plastics, etc). The intention of deferring the Resolution was to incorporate additional information and findings from the site visit, and potentially a composting pilot project, into Resolution 17-340. Here is our testimony below:

After the hearing, we gave a statement to Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii News Now video coverage: Plan to burn recyclables at Hpower placed on hold

Hawai‘i’s Mayors commit to shared goal of 100 percent renewable ground transportation by 2045

Today in Wai‘anae, Leaders from the City and County of Honolulu, Maui County, Hawai‘i County and Kaua‘i County came together today on the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa in committing to transform Hawai‘i’s public and private ground transportation to 100 percent renewable fuel sources by 2045.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, Kauaʻi County Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. and Hawaiʻi County Managing Director Wil Okabe, representing Mayor Harry Kim, set the new target by signing their respective proclamations.

The mayors were joined by Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson in Pōkaʻī Bay on Oʻahu’s Leeward Coast to sign the proclamations on the captain’s box of the Hōkūleʻa, which promoted sustainability and resilience during its recent Mālama Honua voyage.

“The stakes are too high for Oʻahu, as well as the rest of our state.  We have to change our path,” said Mayor Caldwell.  “With this announcement we want to send a message that we welcome the next phase of Hawaiʻi’s clean energy transformation, which will not only reduce our carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel imports, but will also ensure a more resilient future.”

The four mayors recognize that this pledge is a critical next step to energy sustainability since ground transportation accounts for over one-quarter of Hawaiʻi’s imported fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  It also represents a significant financial gain for our residents as operating and maintaining an electric vehicle costs about one-third less than a comparable vehicle powered by fossil-fuel.

In their specific proclamations the City and County of Honolulu, the County of Maui, and the County of Kauaʻi pledged to lead the way by transitioning all of their fleet vehicles to 100 percent renewable power by 2035, and the County of Hawaiʻi plans to establish a goal toward the same end.

“It is vitally important that we chart a new course that steers us away from fossil fuel use and carbon emissions in our ground transportation,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa.  “The goals we are setting today are not only desirable, but attainable, and help send a message that Maui County and Hawaiʻi are open for innovation to help ensure the greater health of our communities and the planet as a whole.”

The signed proclamations solidify Hawaiʻi’s role as a global renewable energy leader, with the state and all four counties becoming the first in the nation to commit to a 100 percent renewable transportation future.

“Hawai’i County is committed to the goals of this initiative, and we will do everything we can to see it fulfilled,” said Hawai’i County Mayor Harry Kim.

The proclamations also continue Hawai‘i’s progress in transitioning away from fossil fuels and builds off a 2015 state law that requires 100 percent of Hawai‘i’s electricity to be generated by renewable sources by 2045.  Hawai‘i’s 2045 goal was the nation’s first such benchmark.

“It is our shared kuleana to reduce our emissions, no matter how big or small our communities may be,” stated Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr.  “It is an ambitious goal, but by bringing everyone to the table to work together, we can achieve 100 percent affordable, safe, renewable transportation by 2045.”

The four Hawaiʻi mayors join leaders in France, Great Britain, India, China, Dublin, Madrid, Oslo, Milan, Paris, and Brussels who have also committed to transition their transportation systems away from fossil fuels.

“Hōkūleʻa’s voyage around the world was dangerous, but the risk of inaction outweighed the risk of the voyage,” said Nainoa Thompson.  “The call of Mālama Honua is being answered today by these four mayors who are continuing the legacy of the voyage and showing the world what local climate leadership looks like.”

Local businesses and clean energy organizations applauded the historic action by the four mayors.

“This initiative will spark innovation and entrepreneurship in our state,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi.  “We’ve seen how the renewable energy revolution in electricity has grown jobs and helped keep over $300 million every year in the local economy.”

“We commend the vision of these leaders in setting the course for Hawaiʻi’s sustainable transportation future,” said Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director of Blue Planet Foundation.  “This goal has been one of the missing pieces in our clean energy puzzle.”

“I am proud to be here today to share in this historic announcement,” said Jodi Malinoski, Sierra Club O‘ahu Group Coordinator. “This commitment to zero-emission buses and electric vehicles is integral to healthy, livable communities and will ensure a more just and equitable transition to a clean energy future.”


While imported petroleum use for electricity generation has been decreasing over the past decade, due to the success of the public-private partnership to achieve a 100 percent renewable electrical grid by 2045, gasoline and diesel use in vehicles has grown in recent years.

The proclamations signed today by the chief executives of the four counties are in alignment with the state of Hawai‘i’s recent commitment to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

All four mayors previously joined Governor David Ige on June 5, 2017 to commit to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement just days after President Donald J. Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from the international accord to address global warming.

More recently, Mayor Caldwell returned from the North American Climate Summit last week where he signed the Chicago Climate Charter and met with former President Barack Obama, who encouraged U.S. mayors and local governments to lead the country in meeting the Paris Climate Agreement goals.

The City and County of Honolulu was recently selected by 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, to be part of an international cohort of cities addressing the increased stresses and shocks of the 21st century.  The city will be developing a “Resilience Strategy” in 2018 that will include how best to address climate change challenges on Oʻahu.  Nainoa Thompson serves as a member of the Mayor’s Resilience Strategy Steering Committee.


O‘ahu Group Coordinator Jodi Malinoski with Joshua Stanbro, Executive Director and Chief Resilience Officer for Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, Kauaʻi County Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., Hawaiʻi County Managing Director Wil Okabe, and Honolulu Councilmember Joey Manahan, joined by Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson in Pōkaʻī Bay on Oʻahu’s Leeward Coast to make the announcement to 100% clean ground transportation by 2045.

What an amazing honor to set foot on mama Hōkūleʻa…

Additional photos from the City and County of Honolulu can be viewed here.


Star Advertiser: Navy failed to show at board meetings (Red Hill)

Here are two Star Advertiser letters to the editor regarding the US Navy no-showing at Neighborhood Board meetings to give their Red Hill presentation. These letters were published on December 8, 2017 and December 10, 2017. Mahalo board members Josh Frost (Palolo Neighborhood Board) and Linda Wong  (Diamond Head/Kapahulu/St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board) for submitting these letters to the editor:

Star Advertiser: Navy should start relocating Red Hill tanks

Honolulu Star-Advertiser, December 10, 2017
By Marti Townsend

If our enemies poisoned our drinking water, we would all be up in arms. But when the U.S. Navy pollutes our groundwater, it expects us to accept it in the name of national security. We should not and do not accept this. While national security is imperative, clean drinking water, in times of peace and in times of war, is crucial to the well-being of all. It must be protected, period.

The U.S. Navy’s World War II-era fuel tanks at Red Hill store millions of gallon of petroleum and sit only one hundred feet above Oahu’s primary groundwater aquifer.

In his column, “Red Hill 4 years later: Drinking water safe” (Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, Dec. 6), the newly installed Rear Adm. Brian Fort describes the Red Hill facility as “an amazing engineering wonder.” The only thing “amazing” about the Red Hill facility is that within five years of its construction, it was already leaking massive amounts of petroleum into our groundwater.

According to a Sept. 10, 1948, memorandum to the Public Works Office of Pearl Harbor, Tank No. 16 “was leaking at the rate of approximately 13 barrels per day.” In May 1949, Bechtel Corporation measured leak rates of 37 barrels per day. Amazing. All told, a conservative estimate based on naval reports puts the total petroleum products leaked at over 200,000 gallons since 1943.

In January 2014, the Navy admitted to spilling 27,000 more gallons of fuel into the ground.

Our Board of Water Supply cautions that the “amount of petroleum contamination in the groundwater underneath Tank 5 is rising.” Total petroleum hydrocarbons have measured as high as 6,300 micrograms per liter in the groundwater underneath the Red Hill fuel tanks. The state Health Department calls for action at far lower amounts of contamination: 400 micrograms per liter. Benzene, a carcinogen, is also being detected in wells near the Red Hill facility.

The Health Department admitted that storing up to 187 million gallons of fuel, a mere 100 feet above Oahu’s drinking water resource, is “inherently dangerous.” In a 2014 report to the Legislature, the Health Department argued that the operation of this facility should only exist on the condition that the facility “be upgraded with secondary containment,” but the state has refused to enforce this standard.

The U.S. Navy admits to already spending more than $200 million on “modernization” of this facility, and still there is no guarantee that it won’t leak again or that if it does they could clean it up.

Looking at these facts, it is amazing this situation has been allowed to continue for so long.

The rear admiral’s platitudes to trust the Navy rings hollow in the context of repeated sub-standard work product delivered as part of the current consent decree, emphasis on secretive non-disclosure agreements over transparency and good data gathering, and multiple missed neighborhood board meetings.

Given the close proximity of the Red Hill fuel tanks to our aquifer, the amount of petroleum that has already leaked, and the alarming amount of fuel still stored at Red Hill, the Navy should be working to relocate these tanks now.

It is frustrating the Navy appears to be spending more time and money on public relations to defend a bad idea whose time has passed, than on investigating better ways to store its fuel.

Efforts to defend U.S. national security should not pose an inherent threat to the safety of Hawaii’s public health and natural resources.