Hawaii Attorney General David Louie announced today that 100 percent of royalties derived from geothermal development on Hawaiian home lands must be used to benefit Native Hawaiians.
The formal opinion was in response to an inquiry from Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair Jobie Masagatani.
Louie made the decision based on an analysis of the state’s obligations under the Admissions Act, which made Hawaii a state, and the state Constitution.
“The Admissions Act provides that ‘all proceeds and income from the ‘available lands,’ as defined by the [Hawaiian Homes Commission Act] shall be used only in carrying out provisions of [the HCCA],” the Attorney General’s Office said in a press release.
The opinion also concludes that the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has the responsibility of managing geothermal resources on its lands.
“I hope that by issuing (the opinion) the Legislature and the community will have a greater appreciation of the constitutional and legal foundation of DHHL’s rights to economic benefits of geothermal resource development on Hawaiian home lands,” Louie said in the release.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs receives 20 percent of the state’s geothermal royalties.