HILO, Hawaii: Council Chair Dominic Yagong and the rest of the Hawaii County councilmembers are preparing to dive into the bureaucracy of geothermal related regulation in the next few weeks, starting today with Bill 256.
As Yagong explained in his council office in Hilo on Tuesday, the bill does many things, most of all redefining the geothermal relocation and community benefits program, with a renewed focus on safety rather than infrastructure improvements.
With a newly resurgent opposition to plan for increased geothermal development, there has also been increased scrutiny over the relocation process. Puna residents like Aurora Martinovitch have said the current process is failing the residents most effected by the Puna Geothermal Venture plant.
Yagong’s bill will also atempt to tighten up the rules for relocation.
Yagong admits the council made a mistake in the past by altering the language of the program. He says its a wrong he intends to fix.
But thats not the only geothermal measure coming down the pike. At a recent, well attended hearing in Pahoa, residents described the community confusion when the well blew out in 1991. Yagong says his next bill will mandate that Civil Defense must create a specific emergency plan for the community located near the geothermal industrial sites.
That could include a relief shelter built on land donated by the Leilani Estates Community Association subdivision, an idea brought forward by Puna Councilman Fred Blas. Or it could not, says Yagong.