June 9, 2010 – Hawaii County
The Department of Land and Natural Resources has proposed a number of Environmental Assessment exemptions for Aquatic Resources, State Parks, Forestry and Wildlife, and Boating and Ocean Recreation… and one Big Island resident is already crying foul.
Syd Singer issued a statement on Friday blasting the exemption ideas, which can be found on the current notice of the Office of Environmental Quality Control website.
“The Department of Land and Natural Resources has decided that the public has too much say about environmental affairs,” Singer writes in a media release, “especially when it comes to invasive species control and eradication. So they are proposing to take away the public’s right to comment by eliminating environmental assessments.”
Singer immediately points to item number 8 in the Exemption Class 4 section of the proposed amendments for the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, which reads: Invasive species control using traps, toxicants, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations for the purpose of protecting, preserving, or enhancing native species, native habitat, or native ecosystem function.
Singer, who is actively fighting a plan to release a scale insect as a form of biocontrol for the strawberry guava plant, says the exemption will mean “the public has no say in what is considered “invasive”. Anyone can slash and burn, poison, bulldoze, biocontrol, or in any other way attack the environment to control “invasive species” without any public or agency review.”
Singer also casts doubt on the proposed EA exemptions for weed and other unwanted vegetation removal, pest control, animal control in certain areas, and landscaping in State Parks.
“This government has forgotten that its authority is derived from the people.” Singer concludes. “It is OUR environment. It is OUR government. We must continue to assert our right to be part of the decision making that alters OUR environment.”
To comment on the proposal: Send to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Engineering Division, Project Planning & Management Branch, ph: 587-0229, fax: 587-0283, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and the Office of Environmental Quality Control, 235 South Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI 96813, fax: 586-4185.