by Gary Hooser
County of Kauai Councilmember
I told a friend recently that I was getting too old to fight for incremental change, only to settle for a study or a task force. Frankly, I am tired of having state legislators (of which I used to be one), councilmembers (of which I am one) and members of Congress (of which I once tried to be one) tell us all the reasons why nothing can be done.
I am tired of watching big corporations cause irreparable harm to our health, our natural environment and our planet itself, while our government stands on the side and does nothing or actually facilitates the injustice under the guise that the offender is actually in “compliance” of the law.
Government will tell us these large multi-national billion dollar corporations are “following the rules,” but fail to remind us that these same entities fund the politicians that make those same rules.
And so I march.
Aloha Aina is not about checking off a box on a permit showing the applicant has minimally complied with some provision on a list.
As my friends in the Aloha Aina movement have taught me, Aloha Aina is understanding that stewardship is not a burdensome impediment to development but a joyful responsibility that should be embraced and celebrated.
Aloha Aina is about core values and pro-active advocacy on behalf of those values.
The Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) is an entity whose members are appointed by the governor of Hawaii and is responsible for the management of over 15,000 acres of state-owned agricultural lands.
These are state/public/crown lands. The vast majority of these lands are leased to the largest chemical companies in the world, not to grow food for local consumption but to grow experimental genetically modified crops that eventually end up somewhere else in the world as cattle feed, high fructose corn syrup or ethanol.
These companies sell and use tons of highly restricted use pesticides throughout Hawaii — many of which are banned in other countries. These same companies are involved in lawsuits against Kauai County, Maui County and Hawaii County who have attempted to regulate their actions.
These large multi-national corporations do not pay general excise tax on their production and their operations are subsidized by county property tax laws. They operate shrouded in secrecy and they refuse to disclose both the amount and types of pesticides they use and the type of experimental crops they are growing.
Even though an agency of the World Health Organization has declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen, these companies have refused to disclose the amount of glyphosate they are using each day in our community.
The ADC, who manages these state/public/crown lands, is focused on the revenue generated from the high lease rents paid by these large chemical companies. The ADC has refused to require soil testing for pesticide residue as these companies exit their leases, even though there is clear evidence of heavy use of restricted use pesticides on these same lands. The ADC is now seeking an exemption from a required National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit in order to save money and avoid the higher standards of clean water reporting required by the federal government and state Department of Health.
Operating under the spirit and values of Aloha Aina would mean this agency responsible for managing public lands would seek the highest level of protections for health and the environment, not seek exemptions and minimal protections.
This is only one example and extends throughout government agencies at almost all levels.
Instead of seeking first to protect and preserve via Aloha Aina and embracing the precautionary principle, our government leans increasingly toward a cost/benefit analysis. The sad part is that the people and the environment are paying the costs and the corporations and their enablers are reaping the benefit.
If you are on Oahu, tomorrow Sunday, August 9, please join me along with many friends to send a message loud and clear that people and the environment must come first. We expect thousands of Hawaii residents to march through Waikiki and help send the message that Aloha Aina is about much more than just a box on a permit that gets checked off as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
March with us to send a message that environmental stewardship is a mindset and a core value that demands advocacy. Join H.A.P.A. [Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action] on Saratoga Road near Kalakaua sat 10am, put on a free HAPA T-shirt (while supplies last) and march with us for justice.
Aloha Aina Unity March is to express political views regarding issues that are impacting the management and use of land and natural resources in Hawaii. At the forefront of these issues are the construction of TMT [Thirty Meter Telescope] on Mauna Kea, regulation of pesticide use and genetically modified organisms on agricultural lands in rural communities throughout the state, and mismanagement of agricultural lands across the state.
Regardless of how one might feel about the various individual battles and issues presently going on in Hawaii, one thing is clear — the decisions that are being made by government with regards to managing these issues are not based on aloha aina.
This is not about being for or against science, or GMOs or telescopes or even development. This is about putting the values of people and the environment first.
Please join us tomorrow, Sunday, March 9, at 10am, on Saratoga Road and march through Waikiki in unity and in support for Aloha Aina.
A very short video about the event is here: https://www.facebook.com/395112027349071/videos/vb.395112027349071/40165...
The event FB page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/400520650136449