State roundup for October 30


Environmental pick withdrawn

HONOLULU (AP) — Gov. Neil Abercrombie has withdrawn his nominee to the Office of Environmental Quality Control after environmental and community groups opposed the appointment.

Genevieve Salmonson was unlikely to be confirmed by the state Senate as director of the office.

Abercrombie spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy said Salmonson asked that her name be withdrawn for personal reasons and the governor respected her wish.

Salmonson had oversight of the office during the Linda Lingle administration and was one of several state officials who played a role in harbor improvements for the Hawaii Superferry project.

The administration exempted $40 million in harbor improvements from environmental review. The state Supreme Court later ruled that was done in error and that an alternative plan by Lingle and the state Legislature was also unconstitutional. The project then ended its operations on the islands.

The director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, Robert Harris, said he looks forward to working with Abercrombie to find the right pick.

Kauai’s mayor mulls GMO bill

LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — Kauai’s mayor is waiting until the last minute to decide whether to sign a bill regulating the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops by large agricultural businesses.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. has a Thursday deadline.

County spokeswoman Beth Tokioka said the mayor will announce his decision in a press release today or Thursday.

Tokioka said the mayor has been meeting and talking with the county attorney and staff to understand legal issues associated with the bill and the options in front of him.

The Kauai County Council passed the bill by a 6-1 vote about two weeks ago.

The legislation would require Kauai’s largest agricultural companies — DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, BASF and Kauai Coffee — to disclose the presence and use of pesticides and genetically modified crops.

It would also establish pesticide-free buffer zones around schools, hospitals, homes and other areas and require the county to conduct a study on the health and environmental impacts of the industry.

Carvalho has received a “large number of emails” about the legislation since it passed, which are being logged for his review, Tokioka said.

Some bill proponents have sent the mayor pens with the worlds “Please, sign 2491” in an effort to persuade the mayor.

Tokioka confirmed the mayor received a few pens but she did not have an official count.

The council convened for nearly 100 hours to discuss the bill. It also received more than 4,000 pieces of testimony.

Carvalho had asked the council to defer the legislation for two months to allow time for the county to hold discussions with the state.

But Council Chairman Jay Furfaro said he had spoken to state Agriculture Department Chairman Russell Kokubun and to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials. Furfaro said the council had worked on the bill since its introduction in June and he found no logical reason to defer it.

 

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