HONOLULU, Hawaii – Puna State Senator Russell Ruderman spoke for twenty minutes on the senate floor Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to derail a geothermal bill he says is bad for his district and the renewable energy industry.
Senate Bill No. 2535, S.D. 2 was introduced by Hawaii Island Senator Lorraine Inouye and according to Ruderman it was written to benefit Puna Geothermal Venture, the sole geothermal energy producer in the state. Ruderman also says the bill strips away needed county oversight of the industry.
According to the description of the bill, the proposed law “clarifies that the regulation of geothermal resources development and geothermal resources exploration is reserved to the State unless delegated to the counties by statute. Requires the lessee of a mining lease to comply with all water and air pollution control laws, relating to building, grading, and flood control codes. Requires the rules of the board of land and natural resources regarding mining operations, geothermal resource development, and geothermal resource exploration, including drilling conditions and restrictions, to be uniform throughout the State. Effective 1/1/2050.”
Sen. Inouye says the bill puts the responsibility of geothermal regulation where it belongs: with the state.
Sen. Ruderman gave a detailed, impassioned plea to fellow lawmakers, but it was not enough. The bill was passed by the senate, 16 ayes to 8 noes.