Happy 4th of July! This marks the 239th birthday of our great nation. While there have been recent tragedies, like the Charleston church shooting, which create heartbreaking pain and sorrow, we'll always strive to rise above these challenges and stand as one nation. Please take a moment this 4th of July to reflect on our country's values of liberty and justice, as you celebrate with your friends and family.
And as always, please feel free to contact me at 586-6830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if I can help you or your family in any way. You can also follow me on Twitter @senmikegabbard, Instagram @sengabbard, or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/senmikegabbard.
My next Listen-Story meeting will be at the Kapolei High School Teacher's Lounge on Saturday, July 25th, from 9am to 10am.
The situation at Red Hill continues to be a huge concern, given that the Navy has a facility there with 20 underground fuel tanks capable of holding 12.5 million gallons of fuel each. Each tank is 250 feet high, by 100 feet wide. These tanks are located 100 ft. above 25% of the island's drinking water and have leaked on many occasions.
The latest leak involved 27,000 gallons of fuel which occurred in January 2014. This is a huge concern because our precious drinking water is irreplaceable. On June 18th, I presented testimony at a Public Comment meeting at Moanalua Middle School to discuss the proposed Administrative Order on Consent (AOC). This legally enforceable document includes the governing principles on the expected operation of the facility going forward. It would require the Navy and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the entity that owns the fuel, to evaluate and implement structural upgrades to the tanks at the Red Hill Facility, implement improved leak detection technologies, evaluate and update the groundwater monitoring network and to perform a risk and vulnerability assessment to determine the level of risk the Red Hill Facility may pose to the groundwater and drinking water aquifers in the areas surrounding the Red Hill Facility.
This is a first step, but the problem is that the Navy has two years to do a study and 20 additional years to make the needed improvements. One thing that I and many people in the public are feeling is that there's a lack of urgency in moving forward with these needed improvements. I'm suggesting that in addition to the initial two-year study put forth in the AOC, the Navy and DLA move as quickly as possible to upgrading the fuel release prevention and detection at the facility. This is urgently needed to calm public fears and to show good faith that the Navy and the DLA are serious about being good stewards of our precious environment. Without an additional commitment, it's unlikely that the AOC will gain widespread community support.
This session I authored SCR 57 which passed the Legislature. It will continue the work of the Red Hill Fuel Leak Task Force established by SCR 73 in 2014 and will also expand its mission to not only include the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage facility, but also add the additional 26 underground storage tanks owned by the U.S. military. It will also add the Congressional delegation as members of the Task Force. I'm committed to working on this issue to ensure our precious drinking water is safe.
I spoke as part of a panel at the Hawai‘i Environmental Court Symposium: "Our New Island Court in a Global Context at the UH Law School" on June 26th. Other panelists were Rep. Chris Lee, Marty Townsend of the Sierra Club, and Chris Wollaway of Keep Honolulu Beautiful.
In 2014, as Energy and Environment Committee Chair, I helped secure passage of SB 632, which creates an environmental court within the State Judiciary at both the district and circuit court levels. It's pretty cool that we�re the second state in the nation, after Vermont, to create a statewide environmental court (EC) system.
A 2009 report authored by George and Catherine Pring called "Greening Justice: Creating and Improving Environmental Courts and Tribunals" has found that there are over 350 environmental courts/tribunals in 41 countries around the world. To be clear, I'm not talking about a separate bricks and mortar environmental court. An EC creates a "calendar" separate from other court cases so that judges can get in-depth experience in deciding on environmental cases and the system will have specialized training for the judges and attorneys in this area.
The EC will be taking cases involving issues, such as illegal dumping, water & air pollution, noise pollution, trespassing at Kaho�olawe, littering, illegally harvesting in forests, fishing in restricted areas, overfishing, shark finning, damaging coral, etc.
I presented an honorary certificate from the State Legislature at the Grand Opening of Wakea Gardens in Kalaeloa on June 30th. The Bachelor Officers' Quarters (BOQ) at Hornet and Roosevelt in Kalaeloa was built in 1958 as part of the former Naval Air Station Barbers Point. The building hasn't been used for housing since the closure of the base in 1999. Hunt has converted the BOQ to 100 one-bedroom, 490 square foot units. The apartments will feature split AC systems, energy efficient refrigerator/freezers, microwave ovens, and double insulated low-e glass windows. Other property amenities include an outdoor courtyard, community recreation room, workout facility, lounge, laundry room, barbecue area, and assigned parking. Rents will average at $1,300.
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