|Solar Tax Credits in Hawai‘i||Earthjustice, representing the Sierra Club, is challenging in state circuit court the Hawaiʻi Department of Taxation’s decision to cut back on tax credits for residents and businesses that install solar energy systems. The Department’s new interpretation of the solar credit—which was announced November 9, 2012 and goes into effect January 1, 2013—will drastically reduce the availability of the Hawaiʻi renewable energy tax credit for solar photovoltaic systems and threatens Hawaiʻi's progress in promoting renewable energy and in weaning itself off fossil fuels.|
|Protecting Endangered Sea Turtles, Rare Albatross from the Longline Swordfish Fishery||Conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging a new rule by the National Marine Fisheries Service that doubles the number of endangered sea turtles allowed to be entangled and killed by Hawaiʻi’s longline swordfish fishery. The suit, brought under the Endangered Species Act and other federal environmental laws, aims to stop the Fisheries Service from allowing the fishery to cause the deaths of far too many endangered loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles, as well as migratory seabirds.|
|Protecting Hawai'i’s Reef Ecosystems from the Aquarium Trade||Citizens and conservation groups took legal action today to require the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources to protect Hawaiʻi’s reefs and coastal areas from unlimited collection of fish and other wildlife for the aquarium trade. Specifically, the groups are asking DLNR to conduct environmental reviews—including an examination of cumulative damage to the state’s reefs—before granting permits that allow unlimited aquarium collection of marine wildlife in coastal waters.|
|Genetically Engineered Alfalfa Challenge||
Earthjustice is representing a diverse coalition of conventional and organic farmers, dairies and agricultural associations, and environmental and consumer groups in challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s decision to deregulate a variety of alfalfa genetically engineered to tolerate exposure to the herbicide glyphosate. Earthjustice, together with the Center for Food Safety, is challenging the deregulation under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Plant Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
|Na Wai Eha Treatment Plant Environmental Impact Statement||Earthjustice filed a lawsuit on behalf of Maui community groups Hui o Na Wai 'Eha and Maui Tomorrow Foundation challenging plans by Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. (A&B) to build a water treatment plant that would take contested stream flows from several Na Wai 'Eha streams, "the Four Great Waters" of Waihe'e River and Waiehu, 'Iao, and Waikapu streams on Maui, so that A&B can supply the treated water to its development projects and also sell it to Maui County. The proposal would redirect nine million gallons per day of diverted stream flows that A&B has claimed is essential for its Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) plantation and instead use it for A&B's land and water development plans.|
|Kaua'i Seabirds Threatened by KIUC Powerlines & Structures||
For decades, endangered Hawaiian petrels and threatened Newell's shearwaters have been killed and injured by flying into power lines and associated structures owned and operated by Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). KIUC's own estimate is that it currently kills nearly 200 listed seabirds per year, without coverage under an incidental take permit in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The illegal operations of KIUC and its predecessor, Kaua'i Electric, have killed thousands of imperiled seabirds over the years and bear substantial responsibility for the crash in the Newell's shearwater population on Kaua'i, where the bulk of the species is found and where bird numbers have declined by 75% in only the past fifteen years.
|Makua Environmental Impact Statement||In October 2001, Earthjustice reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Army that requires the Army to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for its proposed resumption of live-fire training at Makua Military Reservation (MMR) on Oahu, a culturally and ecologically important area, with scores of Hawaiian cultural sites and nearly fifty endangered plants and animals threatened by training.|
|Hawai'i Clean Energy Planning Framework||
Earthjustice is representing the Hawai'i Solar Energy Association, the statewide solar industry association, in proceedings before the Hawai'i Public Utilities Commission regarding the state electric utilities' proposed framework for energy planning, which will direct state energy development and use for decades to come. Earthjustice is seeking to ensure that the final approved framework best serves the public interest in maximum growth and distribution of clean energy.
|Critical Habitat for the Palila||The palila -- a bird endemic to Hawai'i -- depends on the native Hawaiian dry land forest, particularly mamane trees, for food, shelter, and breeding, and the destruction of mamane forests by sheep and goats and other browsing animals in the early twentieth century prompted a sharp decline in palila numbers and habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reacted by recognizing palila as endangered in 1967 and designating Palila critical habitat on the upper slopes of Mauna Kea.|
|False Killer Whale Longline Defense||For years, the National Marine Fisheries Service has illegally ignored its own data, which show the Hawai'i-based longline fleet currently is injuring and killing false killer whales at over twice the level the population can sustain. In 2004, under pressure from an Earthjustice lawsuit, the National Marine Fisheries Service finally re-classified the Hawai'i-based longline fishery as "Category I" -- a designation for fisheries that annually kill and seriously harm marine mammals at unstainable rates -- due to its excessive incidental take of Hawai'i's false killer whales. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, this recategorization should have triggered the prompt establishment of a take reduction team to devise a plan to bring the fishery's incidental take "to insignificant levels approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate." NMFS has failed to do so, claiming inadequate funding. At the same time, NMFS has never applied the congressionally-mandated factors to allocate resources where insufficient funding is available for all required take reduction actions.|
|Central Maui Stream Restoration||Earthjustice petitioned the state Commission on Water Resource Management to establish instream flow standards that would sustain beneficial instream uses, such as ecological protection, Native Hawaiian practices, recreation, and scenic values, for Na Wai Eha (The Four Great Waters) in Central Maui. The petition demanded that the water currently being hoarded and wasted by private companies be returned to the streams of origin.|
|Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets||
The genetic engineering of our agricultural products has created serious environmental problems and numerous questions about health and safety. The great majority of genetically engineered ("GE") crops are engineered to be resistant to a specific weed killer, glyphosate (known commercially as "Roundup," owned and marketed by Monsanto). These crops, known as "Roundup Ready," allow farmers to apply large quantities of glyphosate to their fields without harming the crop, but this practice accelerates the evolution of herbicide-resistant "superweeds." Farmers then apply greater and greater quantities of Roundup to try to kill these weeds, and when this fails, they use even more toxic herbicides. Also, the GE crops themselves can cross-pollinate or become mixed with other related crops nearby, contaminating their conventional or organic counterparts.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, approved for commercial production genetically modified sugar beets without assessing the environmental, health, and economic impacts of these Roundup Ready beets, to the dismay of organic farmers, conservationists, and food-safety experts.
Earthjustice sued the USDA on behalf of organic seed producers and conservationists to get the deregulation of genetically-modified beets reversed until a full environmental impact statement is performed. In September 2009, the court agreed the USDA had violated the law and must prepare an EIS. Earthjustice is now seeking an injunction to stop further production of the sugar beets in the meantime.
|Honolulu Irradiator||Earthjustice has been fighting to ensure adequate environmental review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of an application to build a Cobalt-60 irradiator to treat fruit and vegetables for fruit flies at a site located in a tsunami evacuation zone and near active runways at the Honolulu International Airport, residential neighborhoods and schools.|
|Biopharm Algae||The State of Hawai'i's Board of Agriculture approved a permit to allow the importation of algae genetically engineered to produce drugs on the Kona coast of the Big Island. Earthjustice sued, and the Court has ordered that the Board's approval without a review of potential environmental impacts of the project was invalid.|
|Shoreline Certification Rules||A state board's improper definition of shoreline is contributing to the loss of beaches throughout Hawai'i.|