Sacrilege on Moloka’i

Hawaii’s legislature, based on Oahu, passed a law requiring that 40% of their oil-based electricity generation be replaced by renewables.  Predictably, proposals for wind energy projects have cropped up.  Also predictably, they’ve cropped up on the more remote islands, where the Honolulu folks can look at them from a distance and feel smug about their environmental bona fides.  This should sound familiar.

Two of the biggest projects are on Lana’i and Moloka’i.  Google them and be prepared for a shock.  In both cases, absentee landowners and developers are proposing major projects in some of the most environmentally sensitive parts of the world against the overwhelming opposition of the locals.  An example of the opposition is a series of opinion pieces in the Molokai DispatchPart one [backup copy] was simply a description of the project, but by part two [backup copy] the tide had turned, and by part three [backup copy] the folly of the entire scheme was laid bare.  These are well-written articles and nicely sum up the issues.  I especially liked, in Part 2, the various alternatives to spending all this money on wind energy, saving more energy than these projects will ever deliver, costing less and providing genuinely local jobs.

On a personal note, I’ve been to Molokai a number of times on vacation.  The western end, where the project will be, is scrubland (with mostly alien flora and fauna) and slopes down to the water.  Perfect for wind turbines.  Unfortunately, Moloka’i is also has some of the most expansive views on this planet, especially looking over to Oahu, watching the humpbacks and porpoises.  On an island where nothing taller than a palm tree is built, this project (like the one on Lanai) is nothing short of a sacrilege.

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