Jim Albertini of Malu ‘Aina sent the following report from the Navy public scoping meetings in Hilo regarding planned expansion of its training and range complex in the Pacific. The new control tactic of the military has been to use stations with information and subject matter “experts” to answer questions rather than hold public hearings where the public may hear each others’ questions and comments. Hawai’i has a rich oral cultural tradition; the “information station” format fails to allow for sufficient public participation. The Navy is conducting another environmental impact statement (EIS) for its range activities mainly because it has to renew its “take” permit under the National Marine Mammal Protection Act. They figured that they might as well make changes to their plans while they are at it. NOAA’s website for marine mammal protection permits issued is: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. On this page there are a number of Navy range complexes and other activities. The Southern California and Hawaiian Range permits are midway down the table. You can find annual reports there as well.
The meeting on O’ahu was also highly controlled. The Navy provided virtually no information about the proposed changes to their activities, making it impossible for the public to effectively comment on the scope of the project. What we have found out is that there will be more minesweeping training, meaning more active sonar use. This is the worst sonar for whales. Also, they plan to bring Joint Strike Fighters (F35) and Littoral Combat Ships (LCS, a cousin of the Hawaii Superferry) to train in Hawai’i.
And the Navy’s failure to hold public hearings denies meaningful public participation. Please submit comments on the website: http://www.hstteis.com/GetInvolved/OnlineCommentForm.aspx
Or by mail:
Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest
Attention: Mr. Kent Randall – HSTT EIS/OEIS
1220 Pacific Highway, Building 1, Floor 5
San Diego, CA, 92132
They do not provide a way to fax or submit email comments.
If the folks from Maui and Kaua’i can send their reports, we’ll post them. Mahalo.
Tonight’s (8/26/10) EIS Scoping Meeting on Navy expansion plans for Hawaii and the Pacific was more hardball than the Marines similar meeting of 2 days ago. (Then again, at the Marines meeting we had retired Marine Sergeant Major, Kupuna Sam Kaleleiki, to open the path with a pule and the initial public testimony.) The Navy EIS personnel weren’t nearly as respectful of the right to public speaking and the community being able to hear each others concerns. Some of the Navy team were downright arrogant, insulting and contemptuous. Initially the Navy wasn’t going to allow us to bring our portable sound system into the Hilo H.S. cafeteria to hold a citizen public hearing. Finally with police presence brought in, the Navy yielded the last hour of the planned 4-8PM event to our citizen hearing. Some of the Navy EIS team were blatantly rude in not listening to community speakers and carried on their own conversations. Before the public testimony, we invited all present to join hands in a pule and asked for mutual respect, and open minds and hearts.
The Navy refused to have any of their personnel take notes to make the public comments part of the official record of scoping concerns. Community people were very respectful of the Navy personnel as human beings, but the aloha spirit wasn’t returned by many of the Navy people present. Too bad.
Many of the Navy people were hard set to their format. Tour the science fair stations, and If you wanted to comment, put it in writing or type it into a computer. We were told over and over. This is not a public hearing. No public speaking is allowed.–
Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action
Kurtistown, Hawai’i 96760
Visit us on the web at: www.malu-aina.org