Monday, July 27, 2009

Dialogue Missing with Native Hawaiians re Energy

Ramsay Taum in HPR's studios for Energy Futures show.
Renewable energy developers who see great opportunities in the Hawaiian Islands had best prepare themselves to sit down with the Hawaiians. That’s the takeaway from today’s Energy Futures show on Hawaii Public Radio (archived here).

Quietly and without emotion, guests Davianna McGregor and Ramsay Taum made it clear it’s time to invite representatives of the host culture to a seat at the table. Too often discussions about developing Hawaii’s clean energy resources fail to include Native Hawaiians or accommodate their religious beliefs, they said.

We asked whether any dialogue exists between Native Hawaiians and Hawaii state government officials on these development issues and were surprised when McGregor, who joined the program from her home on Molokai, simply said "no." It’s hard to see how progress can be made without such a conversation in light of the opposition to some forms of energy development.

No on Geothermal Energy

The renewable technology that results in the proverbial line in the sand is geothermal energy. McGregor touched on some of the same themes she articulated at the Sakamaki Extraordinary Lecture Series panel discussion last month. Geothermal energy exploration and development appears to be a non-starter for her and those in the Pele Defense Fund whom she represents.

Ocean and wind energy developers appear to have an easier path ahead based on comments in this show. McGregor’s concerns were more focused on ensuring environmental protection as those technologies are developed. Pele, the volcano goddess of the Native Hawaiian religion, is untouchable according to McGregor, but the deities of the wind and ocean were not mentioned in the same vein. (The archived file of this program can be found at the HPR website.)

Next Week

We’ll keep the focus on geothermal energy next week with guests Michael Kaleikini of Puna Geothermal Ventures and Senator Kalani English, vice chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, as we discuss what seems to be an irresolvable issue – the hope of geothermal energy adherents to expand the resource in the face of opposition by Native Hawaiian religion practitioners.

The August 3rd program will be “live” on KIPO-FM (89.3 in Hawaii) and also streamed on the Internet at 5 pm HST (11 pm EDT).

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