Well, they did it. Yesterday, the Hawaii state Senate voted to approve House Bill 2501, which permits Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) to keep diverting East Maui streams for another three years.
“The most important thing to understand about HB 2501 is that the Legislature is circumventing a January state court ruling that found A&B has been illegally diverting water for 15 years,” Civil Beat’s Chad Blair wrote in this May 3 story. “The case is on appeal and the Department of Land and Natural Resources must still address A&B’s invalidated diversion permits.”
The House of Representatives previously approved the bill on Apr. 28. Maui Representatives Joe Souki, Kyle Yamashita and Justin Woodson all introduced the bill and voted aye (though Woodson cast his vote “with reservations”). Representatives Lynn DeCoite, Kaniela Ing and Angus McKelvey voted no.
Marti Townsend, the director of Sierra Club Hawaii, was clearly angry at the Senate’s approval in a news release she sent out on May 3.
“As several senators noted in their speeches against bill, this is special legislation benefitting only Alexander & Baldwin,” said Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawaii, in the news release. “A&B is trying to buoy its own bottomline by diverting the public’s water to benefit its own private property. This violates Hawaii’s public trust doctrine. That is why the statewide coalition supporting the restoration of East Maui streams is calling on Governor Ige to veto HB2501.”
As Townsend noted, it’s all up to Gov. Ige now.
Photo of HB 2501 opponents at the Hawaii state Legislature courtesy Sierra Club Hawaii