Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Tuesday, July 19, 2016

As lava continues to flow near the ocean at Kalapana, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution honoring the 100th
anniversaries of Hawai`i Volcanoes and Haleakala National Parks. See more below. Photo from NPS
GOV DAVID IGE RESPONDED to the state Public Utilities Commission’s rejection of Hawaiian Electric Company’s and NextEra Energy’s proposed $4.3 billion merger. Ige expressed opposition to the deal early in the proceedings.
Gov. David Ige
      “I want to thank the Public Utilities Commission and stakeholders for their participation in this historic process,” Ige said. “This ruling gives us a chance to reset and refocus on our goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The proceeding helped define the characteristics and parameters of Hawai`i’s preferred energy future. We look forward to creating a process to find the best partner in the world.
      “No matter who owns the company, the energy vision for Hawai`i remains very clear – 100 percent renewable energy with a transformation to a customer-centered utility focusing on smart meters, smart grid, distributed local solutions, and as much consumer choice as possible.”
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

U.S. SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ, A MEMBER of the Senate Commerce Committee, has called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the commercial use of the rapidly expanding short-term lodging rental market. His letter urges the FTC to study the commercial manner in which individuals or firms are using online services such as Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and FlipKey to profit from short-term rentals.
FTC Chair Edith Ramirez
      “We are concerned that short-term rentals may be exacerbating housing shortages and driving up the cost of housing in our communities,” Schatz wrote. “We have also read troubling reports of racial discrimination on some short-term rental platforms.                       “Furthermore, we are concerned that communities and consumers may be put at risk through violations of sensible health, safety, and zoning regulations under state and local law. In order to assess the use and impact of the short-term rental market, we need reliable data on the commercial use of online platforms. We believe the FTC is best positioned to address this data gap in an unbiased manner, and we urge the commission to conduct a review of commercial operators on short-term rental platforms.”
      The letter to FTC Chair Edith Ramirez also raised concerns about recent data which revealed that commercial users in New York made up an outsized share of the revenue from short-term rentals, and a vast majority of units violated state and local laws. According to Schatz, the subpoenaed data along with recent housing disputes with these companies in cities like Honolulu and San Francisco underscore the immediate need for further study of this issue.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

THE U.S. SENATE PASSED a resolution authored by Sen. Mazie Hirono honoring the 100th anniversaries of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and Haleakala National Park. Hirono’s resolution recognizes Aug. 1 as Hawai`i Volcanoes and Haleakala National Parks Day.
      “For the last century, residents of Hawai`i, the United States and the world have visited Haleakala National Park and Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and gained a greater appreciation for the natural environment, the history of Hawai`i and Native Hawaiian culture,” Hirono said. “I thank my colleagues for joining me in this effort and encourage as many people as possible from across the nation to come to Hawai`i to visit these national treasures.”
      Hirono’s resolution recognizes the economic, scientific and cultural value of Hawai`i’s national parks. In 2015, visitors to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park spent over $151 million in areas around the park and supported nearly 2,000 local jobs.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Flags are at half-staff through sunset on Friday.
AT THE DIRECTION OF THE PRESIDENT of the United States, national and state flags are at half-staff at the State Capitol and upon all state offices and agencies as well as the Hawai`i National Guard in the State of Hawai’i as a mark of respect for victims of the attack on police officers on Sunday, July 17 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
      The flags will be flown at half-staff until sunset on Friday, July 22.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

VOLCANIC EFFECTS ON LICHENS are discussed in Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s current issue of Volcano Watch.
      “The saying ‘Annie alga and Freddy fungus took a lichen to each other’ can invoke groans or giggles from students of environmental science,” the article states. “This mnemonic helps us remember that a lichen is formed by two (or sometimes three) organisms from different biological kingdoms living in a mutually beneficial relationship with each other.
      “In the case of lichens, Annie (algae) can photosynthesize and provide nutrients for Freddy (fungi). In turn, Freddy provides shelter so that Annie can survive in harsh conditions in which algae would not otherwise thrive.
      “Lichens are tough organisms adapted to life in extreme environments. They can survive heat, cold, drought, or an abundance of rain. They live on bare soil, tree bark, woody debris, and rocks, as well as on rusty metal, plastic, tombstones, and old abandoned cars.
      “Lichens can create a furry appearance on rock surfaces, look similar to crusty paint chips, or masquerade as plants with leafy or shrubby forms. They frequently grow in habitats not occupied by more dominant seed plants.
      “On the Island of Hawai`i, lichens are important colonists of young lava flows, particularly `a`a lava. Lichens contribute to the accumulation of soil by supplying organic matter, and nitrogen-fixing lichens may add nitrogen to the environment. This helps set the stage for future development of plant communities.
      “Certain types of lichens found in Hawai`i are also important pioneers of young volcanic landscapes in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, the Azores, La Reunion Island, the Canary Islands, and Africa. 
This nitrogen-fixing lichen, Stereocaulon vulcani, is frequently abundant
on `a` lava flows, particularly in wet environments.
Photo from HVO courtesy of Tim Tunison
      “Although able to tolerate environmental extremes, some lichens are quite sensitive to air pollution. Lichens retain the chemicals they absorb from air and water over periods of tens to hundreds of years. Since the mid-19th century, when the industrial revolution began producing increased levels of air pollution, observers have noted the scarcity of lichens growing in urban settings. 
      “Lichen species differ in their sensitivity to air pollution, and the presence or absence of different lichens in an area has been used to map concentrations of pollutants. Hundreds of studies around the world have used lichens to assess air quality.
      “Lichens are particularly sensitive to sulfur dioxide gas (SO2), a pollutant produced by coal- and oil-burning power plants, industrial processes, automobiles, and volcanoes, such as those here in Hawai`i. SO2 dissolved in water is acidic, is readily absorbed by lichens, and damages Annie alga’s chlorophyll and ability to photosynthesize.
      “Without sugar, which is produced through photosynthesis and fuels the lichen’s life, the organism will fail to thrive and may eventually die. For some species, SO2 also inhibits the ability of lichens to reproduce.
      “When Kilauea Volcano’s summit eruption began in 2008, huge amounts of SO2 were released, and lichens in the area suffered. One might expect that the significant decline in emissions measured since 2008 could be reflected in a partial recovery of these lichens. Astute observers may be able to detect positive changes in the lichen population over time.
“Lichens can also accumulate trace elements present in volcanic emissions. Studies at Kilauea, as well as at Mount Etna and Vulcano in Italy, show that in downwind areas heavily impacted by volcanic plumes, lichens contain a higher concentration of volcanic pollutants. These include fluoride, bromide, and metals, such as copper, lead, zinc, gold, mercury, and antimony.
      “Even under especially adverse conditions, lichens can grow in pockets of protected areas. For example, trees, shrubbery, and walls can provide shelter that encourages lichen growth adjacent to these areas.
      “Heavily vegetated areas can intercept SO2, effectively ‘scrubbing’ the air to provide a microclimate that is more hospitable to lichens. Interestingly, some Hawai`i residents have noted that they are less irritated by volcanic pollution, or vog, in heavily forested areas than in adjacent exposed areas.
      “Hardy lichens are ubiquitous in our environment. They play a critical role in populating new lava flows and help pave the way for the development of complex ecosystems. Tough as they are, lichens can be extremely sensitive to contaminants in our environment, and serve as indicators of both anthropogenic and volcanic pollution. 
      “For additional information, see the U.S. Forest Service National Lichens and Air Quality Database and Clearinghouse at http://gis.nacse.org/.”
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Kanaka Tree performs tomorrow evening. Photo from NPS
KANAKA TREE PERFORMS tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Kiliona Moku Young, T.R. Ireland, Kalei Young and the Young `ohana blend the classic sounds of Hawaiian music with fresh rhythms and melodies.
      Free; park entrance fees apply.

MAKE PAPER MASKS TOMORROW from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. VAC’s and the `Alala Project’s event is open to all ages; keiki must be accompanied by an adult.
      Free; park entrance fees may apply.


Click document to enlarge.

See kaucalendar.com/news/news.html.

See kaucalendar.com/TheDirectory2016.html
and kaucalendar.com/TheDirectory2016.pdf.

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