In today’s world of media bites, well-funded public relations, and the corporate takeover of politicians and governments, companies get to buy and say whatever they want. Thus Bio-Logical Capital, about to buy Hana Ranch and hoping to turn Molokai into an industrial wasteland at taxpayer and ratepayer expense, tried in last week’s Maui News to paint itself as pro-Hawaiian and pro-environment.
Bio-Logical Capital would have us believe that it is “absolutely committed” to “projects that heal land”, “help people” and “help Hawaii protect its natural environment.” How is charging Hawaii ratepayers billions for the Big Wind and Cable’s obsolete technology “helping people?” When the cost for the total project could reach $5 billion to $10 billion – up to $25,000 per ratepayer, and rooftop solar on Oahu would provide much more electricity at a fraction of the price?
How is the destruction of over 17 square miles of Molokai with an industrial wind factory “protecting Hawaii’s natural environment”? When industrial wind projects do not lower greenhouse gas emissions or fossil fuel use, and are just a taxpayer- and ratepayer-subsidized welfare scam for rich corporations?
Bio-Logical says it and its “world-class partner,” Pattern Energy, are “committed to preserve Molokai’s rich culture and way of life, protect the ocean . . .” But how is bulldozing the graves of the ancestors, clogging coral reefs with sediment, killing endangered birds, putting a high voltage cable through the Hawaiian National Humpback Whale Sanctuary, destroying some of the world’s most magnificent scenery, and potentially driving hundreds of people from their homes “preserving the culture” and “protecting the ocean”?
Bio-Logical’s answer is that their project will only cover “less than 200 acres” – an outright lie, for this only represents the turbine towers’ concrete bases. Even Bio-Logical’s partner Pattern admits the industrial power plant will cover 11,000 acres. Bio-Logical speaks of Molokai’s “world class winds” – but no wind surveys have been done. Even if they did exist, would they justify the destruction of nearly half of what National Geographic rates as the sixth most beautiful island in the world?
If Bio-Logical’s mission is to build “strong communities,” why is it attempting to force this project on Molokai, where in three separate surveys residents have voted 93 percent, then 97 percent, and last month 99 percent against the project? Why is Bio-Logical now attempting to bribe people with promises of “community benefits?” Bio-Logical’s glitzy “spin” implies they know better what Molokai people want than the people of Molokai themselves – how arrogant!
It appears Bio-Logical’s people are not listening to their own partner Pattern, who have publicly stated they’ll leave Molokai if the people don’t want the project. And Bio-Logical’s own vice president Keiki-pua Dancil has acknowledged publicly that that these very high opposition numbers are valid. How many times do they have to be told to leave?
Here’s the biggest lie of all: Bio-Logical says Pattern “has led the industry with groundbreaking mitigation measures to protect the environment and cultural resources at other projects. Its management of cultural resource issues at the Ocotillo wind project in California and elsewhere is first rate and is supported by many Native American individuals and groups.”
Doesn’t Bio-Logical know that Pattern has been sued five times by Ocotillo residents and Native American groups, who have occupied the project and now demand a restraining order against them? According to multiple lawsuits, Pattern has ignored the project’s enormous impacts on birds, wildlife, water, soils, geology, and other resources, and has bulldozed ancestral graves and other cultural shrines.
The lawsuits add that Pattern never submitted plans for environmental review and lied about the extent of the project’s grading and roads. Similarly, although Bio-Logical says “no four-lane roads would be built” on Molokai, country lanes in Ocotillo that Pattern promised would not be widened have now been bulldozed “wider than a five lane freeway.”
They also contend that Pattern is installing the weakest and cheapest foundations illegally “without geotechnical or structural engineering”, and “with 14 of 36 turbine pads out of compliance.” That Pattern refuses to answer questions about seismic safety although the project is in a dangerous seismic zone, and Pattern’s blocking an access road flooded the town of Ocotillo, causing extensive damage, for which Pattern denies responsibility.
So serious are these issues that, according to news reports, “The litigation is impacting developer Pattern Energy’s ability to secure financing for the project.”
Does Bio-Logical believe this is protecting “the environment and cultural resources”? How are Pattern’s California Ocotillo crimes “supported by many Native American individuals and groups”? Another tribe, the Campo Indians, victimized by a different Pattern project, is now suing for $56 million, saying Pattern’s turbines are making them sick7. Will Bio-Logical do the same at Hana? On Molokai?
No matter what they say, how could anyone believe them?
About the author: Mike Bond is a renewable energy expert, the former CEO of an international energy company and an adviser to more than 70 of the world’s largest utilities and energy companies. He lives on Molokai.
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