Repeal Act 97

Below is a press release by Puna Pono Alliance on Act 97 related to Geothermal development and a letter from Harry Kim on Act 97.  Please share with others.  Mahalo.




Press release…..FYI for immediate release

Puna Pono Alliance has reached out around the state and to the Puna community to support repeal of act 97. In response Brenda Ford has introduced a resolution to repeal act 97 and asking the other Hawaii state county councils to do the same. Russel Ruderman, and Faye Hanohano are leading the effort to repeal act 97 at the state level as well. Harry Kim has been the leading critic of act 97,has traveled to Honolulu, twice, Maui once and Moloka’i once. Harry will be addressing the council in Hilo this Wednesday at 9:00am on the issue. Puna Pono Alliance is expecting a large number of residents to turn out in  Pahoa as well as some in Hilo, and Kona.

Many groups are circulating calls for support of Harry Kim, Puna Pono Alliance, and Brenda Fords resolution to repeal act 97, in the community. Should be quite a show in Pahoa, in particular with musicians and dancers, coming to the council office in Malama Market Center.

Harry Kim has also written an editorial on the subject (see attachment) please feel free to publish it. For more information on Harry’s letter or the action at the county council this Wednesday call:

Robert Petricci


An Act that Should Not Be by Harry Kim, former Hawaii County Mayor

This letter is written to you because of my very strong feelings on a law that was passed in 2012 that should not be, because of its impact on our island environment and people’s desired lifestyle.

This is not about taking positions for or against geothermal development and the need to seek sensible alternate energy sources. This is about Act 97, that was passed without people’s awareness of what was proposed, and took away decades of land use planning intended to assure use of land is compatible with people’s desired lifestyles. This Act removed the County government authority to regulate development, and removed community opportunity for input to evaluate possible social, environmental, and scientific issues.

I do not have enough space here to fully cover the implications of Act 97, but I will cover them in brief.

What does Act 97 do?

  • Allows geothermal exploration and development in all state land use categories: conservation, urban, rural, and agricultural (including ceded lands).
  • Eliminates the County government’s approval and review process over geothermal development. With this goes the permit process and people’s opportunity for meaningful input.
  • Allows geothermal power plants to be built anywhere in agricultural and rural districts without a county land use permit or public hearing because it is a right by law.
  • Entirely eliminates geothermal subzones, which were created in 1983. Subzones were established where geothermal could be developed based on specific guidelines set by law.
    • Consideration had to be given that the development would not have unreasonable adverse health, environmental, or socio-economic effects on residents or surrounding property;
    • Subzones were to situate geothermal development in areas of the lowest potential environmental impact.

Act 97 initially included provisions to remove all Chapter 343 (EIS and EA) requirements for geothermal, but supporters were persuaded to instead channel that exemption request to the proper authority, the Environmental Council of the Department of Health. Fortunately, that exemption attempt failed at the last minute in May 2012. My concern is that this will be attempted again.

This is not just a Puna issue, as Senate Resolution 25 directed the controversial Public Land Development Corporation to identify areas on the island of Maui and the island of Hawaii for potential geothermal sites.

At this time, some of our state and county legislators have introduced measures to repeal Act 97. They need your support please. You can do this by contacting all state legislators and county council members and voicing your support for the repeal of this Act. There are attempts at this time by some members of the state legislature to “fix” this Act. The focus on amending it has been directed toward the “home rule” issue but no attention on the most important element: the subzone issue. This Act cannot be fixed. It must be repealed.

It is my opinion that Act 97 violates every sense of integrity, of fairness and a trust to just do what is right. A line must be drawn to say “Stop,” and we must refocus on our responsibilities for social, environmental and spiritual care.