Abercrombie requires state EIS on attack helicopter training on Big Island

Posted by Lauren Muneoka at Jun 30, 2011 04:30 PM |
Proposed Army helicopter training poses a serious threat to drinking water resources and important sites on Mauna Kea, so the Abercrombie Administration is requiring an EIS before considering any permits to allow it.

“State calls for compliance with its own environmental regulations for once

A cautious “Hooray” for Abercrombie’s leadership in requiring the U.S. Army to complete a full, Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for their proposed High Altitude Mountainous Environmental Training (HAMET) on the slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. HAMET is needed, the Army argued, to train fighter pilots for the war in Afghanistan (from which Obama recently has decided to withdraw troops).

When HAMET exercises were temporarily permitted in 2003, a pilot accidentally landed in the Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve – an area designated as such because of the unique geologic features, habitat, and historic sites therein. In response, the Army promised to use GPS (why didn’t they have that in their five million-dollar helicopters in the first place?). And, they proposed to mitigate HAMET’s impacts on Native Hawaiian cultural practices on Mauna Kea by suspending training on “known scheduled ceremonies” – without considering whether publicizing schedules would be appropriate to cultural ceremonies. Perhaps what the Army meant by a “scheduled ceremony” are the three days they listed as “Hawaiian cultural holidays” - Kamehameha Day, Kühio Day, and Lei Day – two of which fall outside of proposed HAMET training dates anyway.

Despite the noise, dust, and very real threat of drinking water contamination that would be posed by HAMET’s trainee pilots flying attack helicopters over our public lands, the Army previously published a Finding of No Significant Impact.

We proudly identify ourselves with the “community groups” that complained about the inadequacy of the Army’s initial environmental assessment.

Since his decision on HAMET, Abercrombie has backpedalled away any impression that he is critical of U.S. military presence in Hawai‘i by publicizing his plan to siphon military personnel away from Guam and invite them to the Kona Coast.

But, if his eye is really on the impacts of military buildup on the environment and Native cultural land uses, he should pay attention to the struggles that community groups on Guam and a little less attention to the RAND report on military spending.

Read our post from January for a little background story and talking points.

Document Actions
Add comment

You can add a comment by filling out the form below. Plain text formatting. Web and email addresses are transformed into clickable links. Comments are moderated.


Empower grassroots efforts to protect Hawaiʻi with your donation today.

E-mail Sign-up
Follow Us