They (Kahuku) Asked For This

The news this morning (Friday, Nov. 15) announced that another group were arrested at the Kalaeloa base yard. They were blocking AES’s transport of windmill components to its Kahuku windmill site.

Hours later, a State Senator who represents the Ewa district, came out and accused Honolulu Police of brutality in arresting the protesters.

I heard and then read both stories, and the comments by readers of those stories. Of course, the theme boils down to either “the windmills are bad and the protesters are in their right to be mad” or “the protesters are illegally blocking a road for a project that is legally allowed”.

For those not aware, AES, a power generating company in Hawaii, is building new windmills in the hills of Kahuku for power generation. They have gotten a new permit to erect another set. Activists in the Kahuku community have risen up in opposition to the new windmills, citing health issues related to how the windmills affect people living close to it.

When the permits were issued and work order started, the protesters took up the theme of the protesters at Mauna Kea, called themselves Kahuku Kia’i and proceeded to do the same as their brethren at Mauna Kea – actively block vehicles with construction materials and force their arrest by the police.

Going back to the comments on the most recent wave of arrests, I started thinking that the blame game by all parties is misdirected. Whether they are blaming the protester (if you’re in support) or AES, the company installing (if you’re in opposition).

The blame, to me, comes down to the current elected officials of the state of Hawaii, with their focus to move all power generation in this state to zero emissions by 2045. It’s been the hallmark piece of policy of the current Governor since he first ran for office. Other elected officials have jumped on board, also supporting legislation that moves Hawaii in this direction.

And who voted for the current office holders?  Ironically, it’s the same people protesting the construction of the windmills!

For you see, back in 2018, during the Democratic Primary for Hawaii Governor, there were two very distinct visions for how Hawaii would move from fossil fuel to clean energy production. Candidate Ige was clear – the 2045 clean energy plan was the one he was tied to and would support any project that got Hawaii to that goal. Candidate Colleen Hanabusa said that maybe it would be better to go with a “bridge fuel” like liquefied natural gas.

Obviously, for a host of other reasons, she was not nominated and Ige was. Therefore, it was no surprise when Governor Ige announced his support of the Kahuku windmills. He had been telling us all along, way before, that he would support projects like this.

So here is a thought of the day on this: We have to look beyond “no vote, no grumble”. We have to start critically thinking about who is on the ballot and what they represent. We the voter make choices on who is in that office, not some mysterious guiding hand. The people of Kahuku made that choice with an average of 51% for Ige in the last general election.

So maybe it should be “don’t have buyers remorse”, especially if you didn’t do your homework before casting your vote.