POSTED: Thursday, March 18, 2010

State reduces its energy use nearly 6 percent

The state says its electricity consumption dropped 5.8 percent in the fiscal year ending last June because of increased efforts to conserve energy.

Gov. Linda Lingle said Tuesday the decrease moves Hawaii closer to her goal of having the state obtain 70 percent of energy from clean sources by 2030.

The drop doesn't reflect the energy savings the state may be gaining by closing offices and schools on furlough days. Furloughs didn't begin until the current fiscal year.

The state has also been installing solar and wind power equipment at different facilities to increase its use of clean energy.


14 file to run for congressional seat

Fourteen candidates have filed papers to run in a special election on May 22 to fill the 1st Congressional District seat left vacant when Neil Abercrombie resigned to run for governor.

The deadline for filing candidacy documents was yesterday.

The three leading candidates are Republican Honolulu Councilman Charles Djou, and Democrats Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa.

Case represented Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District from 2003 to 2006, and Hanabusa is president of the state Senate.

The other Democratic candidates are Vinny Browne, Rafael Del Castillo and Philmund Lee. The other Republicans are C. Amsterdam, Charles Collins, Douglas Crum and John Guiffre.

Jim Brewer, Karl Moseley, Kalaeloa Strode and Steve Tataii will run as independents.


Goodfellow wins $76M road contract

The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $76.2 million contract to Goodfellow Bros. Inc. to design and build Phase II of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening project.

Construction is expected to start in November and take about two years to widen a 5.2-mile segment of the highway from Kealakehe Parkway to Keahole Airport Access Road.


$130,000 to aid in coral protection

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says two community environmental groups will get $130,000 for projects to protect Hawaii's coral reefs.

The money is part of a settlement Makena Boat Partners agreed to pay regarding a claim that it killed, damaged or dislodged 538 individual coral colonies when its Kai Kanani catamaran dropped anchor off Maui in 2007.

The department said Tuesday that the Makai Watch Program will get $70,000 to support the development of observation and compliance protocols for volunteers and DLNR-assisted training.

Officials said the Malama Kai Foundation will receive $60,000 in settlement funds for the installation of 52 day-use moorings around the state.



Smoking ban would protect kids in cars

HILO » A Hawaii County Council committee has approved a bill that would ban smoking in motorized vehicles when anyone inside is under the age of 18.

The 6-3 vote by the Human Services and Economic Development Committee on Tuesday sends the measure to the full nine-member council for the first of two votes required for passage.

The bill's author, Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason, is a former smoker. She says she believes she's “;the voice of the children.”;

The bill also has the support of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii and the American Cancer Society.

Opponents say the bill would infringe on personal freedoms.

Councilman Dominic Yagong voted against the measure, saying the bill is just an attempt to “;legislate common sense.”;