TIME hawaii

Watch Lava Burn Through Asphalt Outside Hawaii Town

The stream of lava continues to advance after devouring its first house on Monday

The lava flow threatening the Hawaii town of Pahoa continues to advance, devouring its first house on Monday and setting an asphalt road on fire Wednesday.

Hawaii Civil Defense officials are currently monitoring three breakouts from the main lava stream, but say that there are no immediate threats to residents, reports Hawaii News Now.

The lava flow emanates from a June 27 eruption at the Kilauea volcano, which has been active for 31 years.

TIME hawaii

Slow-Moving Lava Sets House Ablaze in Hawaii Town

Homes In Pahoa, Hawaii Threatened By Lava Flow From Kilauea Volcano
Lava from the Kilauea Volcano flows across the ground on November 7, 2014 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Andrew Hara—Getty Images

(HONOLULU) — A stream of lava set a home on fire Monday in a rural Hawaii town that has been watching the slow-moving flow approach for months.

The molten rock hit the house just before noon, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira. The home’s renters already had left the residence in Pahoa, the largest town in Big Island’s isolated and mostly agricultural Puna district.

It could take 30 to 40 minutes for the home to burn down, Oliveira said. Earlier in the day, lava burned down a small corrugated steel storage shed on the property, he said.

The home’s nearest neighbor is about a half-mile away, Oliveira said.

The lava from Kilauea volcano emerged from a vent in June and entered Pahoa Oct. 26, when it crossed a country road at the edge of town. Since then, it has smothered part of a cemetery and burned down a garden shed. It also burned tires, some metal materials and mostly vegetation in its path.

Firefighters will basically let a structure burn, but they will fight any wildfires that spread or threaten other structures, Oliveira said.

A relative of the home’s owners, who live on the mainland, was planning to be at the site to watch the house burn, Oliveira said. That family member was driving from another part of the island about two hours away and it wasn’t clear if he reached Pahoa in time.

Oliveira said officials would make arrangements for homeowners to watch any homes burn as a means of closure and to document the destruction for insurance purposes.

The leading edge of the molten rock had stalled Oct. 30, but lava was breaking away at several spots upslope. The leading edge remained about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road, the main street that goes through downtown.

Crews have been working on alternate routes to be used when lava hits Highway 130, considered a lifeline for the Puna district.

Many residents have evacuated or are ready to leave if necessary.

Imelda Raras lives on the other end of Apaa Street from where the lava burned its first house. She and her family have put a lot of their belongings in storage and are prepared to go to a friend’s home if the lava gets close.

“I’m scared right now,” she said as she watched smoke from the burning house. “What will happen next? We will be waiting.”

The homeowner of the house that was burning had arranged weeks ago to relocate horses and other animals, Raras said.

Raras said she’s thinking about the mounting storage costs.

“I think our lives will be unstable,” she said. “I hope our house will be spared.”

The family is ready to go, but Raras said they will do so with heavy hearts. “Because it’s hard to leave your own house,” she said. “It’s one of the hardest things to do.”

TIME Disaster

Obama Signs Disaster Declaration to Aid Lava-Threatened Hawaiian Community

This Nov. 2, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a breakout from an inflated lobe of the June 27 lava flow near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. U.S. Geological Survey—AP

Lava from the Kilauea volcano has been creeping toward the small town of Pahoa for four months

President Barack Obama signed a Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance on Monday to help a small Hawaiian town cope with the ongoing lava flow threatening its residents.

The declaration comes in response to Governor Neil Abercrombie’s Oct. 24 request for federal aid to boost local emergency protective measures, including repairs, re-establishment of alternate routes in and out of affected communities and the accommodation of around 900 schoolchildren that are expected to be displaced, reports local channel KITV4.

The smoldering lava has been creeping toward the small town of Pahoa since a new vent opened on the Kilauea volcano on June 27. Currently, the flow has stalled a few hundred feet from Pahoa Village Road.

“We can definitely see a bit of a glow, smell the smoke and the burning vegetation,” says Eric Johnson, a teacher at the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science (HAAS), located one road down. “On occasions, I’ve heard loud booms, like shotgun blasts, when methane pockets in the ground explode.”

However, the village of about 900 has become known for its independent mindedness and some people in the community are critical of the government’s response.

“I’m not worried about the volcano, I’m worried about the government,” local resident Robert Petricci tells TIME. “The lava has been inching forward for 30 years, now the National Guard is here with humvees and flak vests like it’s a war zone. Everything’s a mess, with all the checkpoints, asking people who they’re riding with and where they’re going.”

Johnson’s students have meanwhile launched a social media campaign called Hope for HAAS, coming up with projects on how to facilitate living with a volcano, such as ideas for bridges over lava streams.

“I’m very impressed and proud of the kids, they’ve decided to make a bad situation into something positive,” Johnson says.

He points out that diverting lava flows is viewed in traditional Hawaiian culture as disrespecting the volcano goddess Pele. “The lava flow is very unpredictable, but Hawaiians have always lived with volcanoes. This project is creating hope, and plays a part in keeping the community who we are.”

TIME

Pictures of the Week: Oct. 24 – Oct. 31

From the encroaching lava of the Hawaii volcano to the U.S. Marines withdrawal from Helmand Province, Afghanistan and the World Series victory for the San Francisco Giants to a terrifying Tokyo Halloween, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

 

TIME natural disaster

9 Photos of Molten Lava Destruction From Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano

Lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's Big Island flowed close enough to residents this week that officials warned of evacuations. See how the lava continues to creep closer to civilization and threaten the village of Pahoa

TIME

Lava 100 ft. From Hawaii Home, Nearing Main Road

Dozens of homes, business and other structures are in the area of the lava flow. That number could increase as the flow front widens

(PAHOA, HAWAII) — Rain fell Wednesday on a red-hot river of lava as it threatened to consume its first home on its slow advance into a rural Hawaii town.

A breakout of the lava flow was about 100 feet from a Pahoa residence — about the length of a basketball court, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira. The couple that lives in the home has left.

Scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory who are walking alongside the lava reported its leading edge was 240 yards from Pahoa Village Road, which goes through a commercial hub of the Big Island’s sprawling and isolated Puna district.

“This is just a little quiet village is a very rural community. We farm, we fish, we hunt,” said Jamila Dandini. “We’re going to be an island on an island.”

The leading edge remained in a large agricultural parcel that included another house, which was about 100 yards from the lava, Oliveira said.

Dozens of homes, business and other structures are in the area of the lava flow. That number could increase as the flow front widens.

“The people who are meant to stay will stay. The people that have to leave, sadly, will leave,” Dandini said.

So far, lava has burned a garden shed, tires and some metal materials.

On Wednesday, it burned mostly vegetation, while the rain helped tamp down smoke from the crackling stream.

Officials are monitoring hazards from the smoke. Chemists from the observatory detected only low levels of sulfur dioxide, Oliveira said.

The lava flow emerged from a vent in June and until recently had been slowly weaving through uninhabited forest and pastureland.

The flow is expected to slither past properties across the street from Jeff and Denise Lagrimas’ home as it works its way toward the ocean, about 6 miles away. The Lagrimases decided not to stay and see if the lava burns their home. They packed up to leave for a town 14 miles away.

“I don’t want to stick around and just wait for it to come and take it,” Denise Lagrimas said while taking a break from loading kitchen cups and bowls in cardboard boxes. “You just never know.”

She said they decided to move to Kurtistown because it’s a safe distance away.

“Never in my wildest dreams as a kid growing up did I think I would be running from lava,” Denise Lagrimas said.

Erbin Gamurot, 48, a handyman, said Pele, the volcano goddess, just wants to visit her sister, Namakaokahai, the sea goddess.

“She gotta go see her sister. She gotta go say hi. You know how family are. It’s all good,” Gamuret said.

TIME Volcano

Lava Flow in Hawaii Gains Speed, Triggers Methane Explosions

The lava flow from the Kalauea Volcano is seen crossing a road near the village of Pahoa, Hawaii
The lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano is seen crossing Apa'a Street/Cemetery Road in this U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) image taken near the village of Pahoa, Hawaii Oct. 25, 2014. USGS/Reuters

An active lava flow on Hawaii’s Big Island gained speed as it spread toward a residential neighborhood late Sunday, prompting authorities to warn that evacuations could begin within hours. Civil Defense personnel and emergency response teams were starting a door-to-door sweep of homes near the village of Pahoa, officials said, to inform residents of the progress of the molten rock. Others were warned to stay indoors to avoid smoke.

The lava — at a temperature of around 2,000 degrees — Fahrenheit oozed across a road Sunday and pushed through a mostly Buddhist cemetery on the edge the town in the…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME 2014 Election

Corporations, Advocacy Groups Spend Big on Ballot Measures

A still from an advertisement payed for by Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban, a group backed by agricultural giants Monsanto and DowAgroSciences YouTube

Spending on TV ads soars to $119 million ahead of Election Day

Correction appended: October 26, 2014

Bonnie Marsh is worried that many of her neighbors’ health problems stem from big companies farming genetically modified crops around her in Maui County, Hawaii. So she helped collect enough signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot that would ban growing such crops until an environmental study is done.

“We’ve come forward because we feel there’s a real threat to the health of the Earth,” said Marsh, a nurse who focuses on natural remedies. “We are done being an experimental lab.”

Marsh said her group, Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Aina, has raised about $76,000 so far for what is the first-ever citizen-initiated ballot measure in Maui County. They’ve used about $17,000 of it to buy TV ads to help get the word out. But Marsh’s group is being outraised and outspent by business-supported opposition.

Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban, a group backed by agricultural giants Monsanto and DowAgroSciences, has already spent more than $2 million — or $23.13 per registered voter in the county — on television ads arguing that the ban would kill jobs, cost the local economy millions of dollars and block crops that have been proven safe.

And more ads could be on the way — the group has not yet filed a report with the state to say how much it has raised, nor would it volunteer the information to the Center for Public Integrity.

More has been spent on television time on that measure than any other local initiative in the nation. It’s also more expensive than more than 100 statewide measures, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of preliminary data from media tracking service Kantar Media/CMAG.

Across the country, large companies and national advocacy groups are putting big dollars behind committees with benign-sounding names that support or oppose ballot initiatives on issues as varied as minimum wage increases in Alaska and recreational marijuana in Florida.

The committees are using that money to put their message out in expensive ads featuring family farmers, concerned doctors and smiling teachers. Voters may not readily be able to identify the patrons behind the millions of dollars in ads, but a who’s who of corporate America — soda king Coca-Cola, agriculture magnate Monsanto and malpractice insurer The Doctors Company — are among them.

Through Oct. 20, TV ad spending on ballot issues totaled roughly $119 million, including $11.3 million on local initiatives such as the one in Maui County.

Four of the five most expensive ballot initiatives feature at least one corporate patron duking it out over the airwaves, getting involved in the initiative process that was designed as a way to give voters a direct voice on public policies.

· The two most expensive propositions were in California. Proposition 46 has drawn more than $23 million in ad spending, while Proposition 45 has attracted $20.5 million. Almost all of it has come from two groups: No on 45 — Californians Against Higher Healthcare Costs and No on 46 — Patients, Providers and Healthcare Insurers to Contain Health Costs. The “no” groups are backed by doctors and insurance companies, including The Doctors Company and Blue Shield of California, fighting to stop measures that would force doctors to undergo drug testing and insurers to get new approval for rate hikes, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of state campaign finance records.

· Coming in third place was a Colorado amendment to expand gambling, which has drawn about $12 million in ad spending. Of that, $6.4 million came from Coloradans for Better Schools, a group backed by a Rhode Island casino company, Twin River Casino. Competing casinos in Colorado are helping fund $5.7 million in ads opposing the measure through a group called Don’t Turn Racetracks Into Casinos.

· Ranking fourth were two California measures that have been touted as an inseparable duo: Proposition 1, which would authorize a bond issue for water infrastructure projects, and Proposition 2, which would change the state’s “rainy day fund.” Most of the $7.6 million spent on ads supporting the two measures came from California Gov. Jerry Brown. The Democrat has not run any ads for his re-election bid, instead buying $5.6 million in ads through his campaign committee to back the propositions.

· Rounding out the top five, with $5 million in ads, was an Oregon measure that would require genetically modified foods to be labeled. The No on 92 Coalition, fueled by groups such as Monsanto and the J.M. Smucker Company, is battling natural food companies funding the Vote Yes on Measure 92 committee.

Fewer but costlier initiatives

This year voters have fewer ballot measures to decide than they did four years ago, when a comparable number of offices were up for election. In 2010, voters considered 184 statewide initiatives compared with 158 this year.

Even California voters, well acquainted with lengthy ballots, have only six measures to read through this November.

But this year already has 2010 beat in terms of TV ad spending. In 2010, ballot measure backers and opponents spent about $87 million on ads for the entire election cycle, compared with this year’s $119 million through Oct. 20.

Citizens in 26 states can gather signatures and put a proposal on the ballot that would create a new law or veto an existing one. Every state but Delaware offers voters the chance to weigh in on constitutional amendments approved by the legislature. Once the initiative is approved to go before voters, the ad deluge begins.

Ballot measure opponents and supporters use a number of tools to influence voters — door-knocking, direct mail, digital advertising and more — but television spots have the highest profile influence on such direct democracy.

“TV ads are a very effective way of getting out a message,” said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida professor who has studied ballot measures for more than 20 years. Advertising can be used “devastatingly well,” he added.

But those ads — and the money behind them — aren’t necessarily a bad thing if it gets people talking, he said, even if a few of them are confusing or misleading. “Increased money usually means there is more information, more awareness of ballot measures,” he added.

Corporate titans rule the airwaves

In California, competing messages about the drug-testing-for-doctors proposition are abundant on the airwaves. Recent transplant James VanBuskirk, a 34-year-old marketer for a property insurance company, says he sees one every time he watches prime-time TV.

Prop 46 tops the ballot measure spending pile in this election, with $23 million spent on thousands of ads across California.

Consumer Watchdog, a national advocacy group, teamed up with trial lawyers to back the measure. Trial lawyers stand to benefit from Prop 46 because, in addition to testing doctors for drug use, it also increases the maximum judges can award for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits. Groups backed by them spent $3.9 million so far on ads supporting the measure.

Consumer advocates and the California Nurses Association have also thrown their money behind Proposition 45, which would require insurers to receive approval for rate hikes from the California insurance commissioner, an elected regulator. Ballot committees supporting the measure have aired more than $679,000 on ads so far.

But their messages have been crowded out by those of insurers and doctors, who are spending big to oppose both measures on the airwaves — with more than $38 million spent on ads so far, about $19 million on each measure — nearly a third of the total amount spent on ballot measure ads nationwide. And there are likely many more ads to come: Groups opposing the two measures together have raised more than $100 million, according to California campaign finance records.

“It’s definitely in the upper stratosphere of California fundraising,” said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit that produces online voter guides.

That doesn’t mean the insurance companies are necessarily going to win. In 2010, a group backed by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spent almost $14 million on ads supporting a ballot measure that would require local voter approval for any new government-backed utilities. The electric company lost, even though its opponents did not buy any airtime.

Casinos versus casinos

In Colorado, casinos are waging the nation’s third-most-expensive ballot fight over the airwaves this year.

It’s casino versus casinos, according to an analysis of state campaign finance data. One Rhode Island gambling company, Twin River Casino, wants to offer slot machines, blackjack and other games at a racetrack in Aurora, Colorado. In ads, the committee backed by the company promises $100 million of new gambling revenue will be sent to an education fund every year. The ads have run more than 5,500 times, at a cost of about $6.4 million.

But already established gambling operations in Colorado that don’t want more competition have backed a group that has kept pace, spending $5.7 million on ads opposing the measure. “Amendment 68 is not about education. It’s a Rhode Island gambling scheme,” one opposition ad says.

Most Coloradans likely have no idea that casinos are backing the ads on both sides, said Kyle Saunders, associate professor of political science at Colorado State University. Colorado has clear-cut competitive U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, he said, while ballot-measure backers are “muddying the issues.”

“It’s a difficult environment for voters to know everything about a particular ballot measure anyway, in a normal election,” Saunders said. “You have to actually do some digging or find that article on the Internet or newspaper that has that in-depth information, and that’s actually a pretty demanding task for low- and medium-information voters.”

Gambling is also on the ballot in Massachusetts, with a casino-backed group spending about $3.3 million on ads.

In total, gambling-based ballot measures are responsible for $17.5 million in ad spending nationwide.

Food industry food fight

Even soda is getting in on the political ad contests. The American Beverage Association, whose members include Coca-Cola and Pepsi, has pumped millions into a group opposing a Massachusetts ballot measure that would raise fees for beverage distributors and expand the state’s bottle deposit to cover more types of bottles. The beverage lobby-backed group has spent about $2.5 million on TV ads, while pro-initiative forces have not bought any airtime.

The California branch of the beverage-makers group has also backed a group trying to defeat a local initiative in San Francisco that would tax sugary drinks; so far the group has spent $1.8 million on ads, making the measure the second-most expensive local measure in terms of television spots, behind Maui’s initiative.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are also teaming up with other big food businesses like Monsanto and the Hershey Company in their effort to keep Oregon and Colorado from requiring labels on food that contains genetically modified organisms. Groups backed by the team of food companies have spent about $3 million on ads in each state, arguing that the measures would raise food prices and hurt farmers.

“Farming is hard enough. The last thing we need is Measure 92, a bunch of complex, costly regulations that don’t exist in any other state,” says a plaid-shirt-wearing farmer in an ad opposing the Oregon measure.

Proponents of labeling in Oregon, backed by natural food companies, have spent $2 million on television ads in the state. “I want you to be able to trust the food you feed your family,” says another plaid-shirt-wearing farmer, who favors the measure. Proponents in Colorado have not aired ads.

Winning hearts

Corporations aren’t the only big players in state ballot measures this year. National advocacy groups are also tugging at heartstrings on the airwaves.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have teamed up to oppose anti-abortion measures in Tennessee and Colorado. In Tennessee, a group backed by the pair has spent about $1.3 million on TV ads against a measure that would give the legislature more leeway to regulate abortion. Proponents of the measure, backed by Tennessee Right to Life, have spent about $606,000 on ads.

In Colorado, a Planned Parenthood-backed group has spent $477,000 on the airwaves to oppose an amendment to the state constitution that would redefine “person” to include the unborn. The ads say the move would effectively ban all abortion in the state. Proponents have aired no ads.

Other initiatives attracting interest from advocacy groups include:

· In Washington, television viewers have already been treated to more than 4,000 ads about a pair of conflicting ballot measures concerning background checks for gun purchases, with most of them coming from a group supporting expanded background checks. That organization — backed by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety fund, early Amazon investor Nick Hanauer and a handful of Microsoft executives, according to state records — spent an estimated $3 million on ads. The other side, backed by gun enthusiasts and sporting clubs, is trailing behind, with only about $58,000 spent.

· In North Dakota, the Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society, among others, have lent their support to a measure that would dedicate some of the state’s oil tax revenues to land preservation. North Dakotans for Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks has ponied up nearly $485,400 for ads—more than double the cost for all the ads run by candidates for state offices this year. The group’s opponents have spent about $134,000 on ads so far.

· In Maine, voters are considering a ballot measure that would ban traps, bait and dog chases in bear hunting. The Humane Society has backed a group that has spent about $860,000 on ads favoring the ban so far. The other side, Maine’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Council, has spent about $713,000 on ads.

Attracting voters with pot and money

Marijuana is on the ballot in the District of Columbia and three states, spurring $4.5 million in ads. In Oregon, voters have watched some 1,825 ads worth more than $1 million run by supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana. That effort’s backers include the family of Peter Lewis, a longtime marijuana legalization advocate from Ohio and chairman of Progressive Insurance, who died in 2013. Another backer is the Drug Policy Alliance, an anti-drug-war nonprofit backed by liberal financier George Soros. (Soros’ Open Society Foundations are a financial supporter of the Center.)

The ads argue that legalizing the drug will allow police to focus on solving murders and finding missing children. Opponents have aired no ads so far, but a similar measure failed in Oregon in 2012. In Alaska, supporters of marijuana have aired just $8,210 worth of ads.

In Florida, opponents of a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana have spent roughly $3.2 million on ads. But the players in that fight might care less about marijuana than the governor’s race. Analysts say the marijuana legalization effort in Florida is really a tactic to get more young and left-leaning residents to turn out and vote for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Billionaire casino operator Sheldon Adelson has given $4 million to the anti-pot campaign, while the pro-pot side is backed more than $3.8 million from the personal injury lawyer John Morgan and his firm, which hired Crist after he left office. So far, however, the marijuana advocates have only spent about $195,000 on TV ads, according to Kantar Media/CMAG data.

Ballot measures are a reliable way to motivate a party’s base. For instance, liberal groups helped get measures to raise the minimum wage on five states’ ballots this fall. Yet only Nebraska’s appears to have drawn TV ads: a paltry $79,000 worth.

“That totally makes sense,” said Neil Sroka, a strategist for progressive groups and the communications director at the Howard Dean-founded Democracy for America. “I wouldn’t count the lack of spending on ads to be indicative that they’re not incredibly useful in driving out votes.”

Sroka told the Associated Press that polls show overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage, including among independents and Republicans. Liberal activists looking to motivate voters can use the minimum-wage measures as a way to get perhaps reluctant voters talking and then tell them that the Democratic nominees for office also support higher wages.

“These ballot measures are great ways to talk to voters who might not want to talk to Democrats,” Sroka said.

Money talks but does it win?

For some corporations and national advocacy groups, investments in ballot measure ads have already paid off. This summer, oil companies won an August vote after dishing out nearly $900,000 to buy about 8,000 TV spots in Alaska to keep special tax breaks. “We need to stay in the game,” said a hockey coach in an ad that likened the sport to the oil industry.

In Michigan, manufacturers almost hit the $2.8 million mark on ad spending for an August ballot measure designed to eliminate a double tax on industrial property, while also rerouting an existing tax to fund local budgets. Though observers worried the measure was too confusing for pessimistic Michigan voters, who turned down every single initiative on the ballot in 2012, the manufacturers walked away with a victory.

But for others, ad spending was for naught. In Missouri, construction companies spent about $1.2 million on TV ads but still lost an August vote that would have authorized a sales tax to fund road construction.

The bulk of the measures, though, will come before voters on Nov. 4, so a flood of advertising is on the horizon. Then the implications of voters’ decisions will begin, affecting individuals’ lives and companies’ bottom lines.

In Hawaii, approval of the Maui County GMO ban would be a blow to Monsanto, which can produce up to four crops of corn seeds a year in Hawaii’s lush environment.

The state’s seed industry, including Monsanto’s corn, has grown rapidly in recent years, and last growing season was worth $217 million, outpacing sugar cane and pineapples. The corporate-backed Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban argues that small farms and big alike would be hurt by the ballot’s ban.

“More than 600 people would lose their jobs,” the group’s spokesman, Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez, said in an email. “The purpose of the TV ads is to educate voters about the flawed, costly and harmful initiative.”

Natural remedies nurse Marsh doesn’t know whether her side can beat the Monsanto-backed ads; she said fliers against the GMO ban show up in her mailbox every day. But the ban advocates have a great volunteer network, she said, and at the very least they’ll get to make themselves heard. “We’re just trying to make them be held responsible for what they’re doing,” she said.

Associated Press reporter Philip Elliott contributed.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the amount Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Aina has raised to back the ballot measure banning GMO farming. It was about $76,000.

TIME 2014 Election

Hawaii Democratic Senate Primary Finally Ends As Rep. Colleen Hanabusa Concedes

Colleen Hanabusa
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, left, and a group of supporters do some last minute campaigning near the polling place on Aug. 15, 2014, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Marco Garcia—AP

Hanabusa announced Tuesday she will not challenge the results of the Senate primary in court

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will not challenge the results of the close primary election between her and Sen. Brian Schatz, a race that came to an end an entire week after the originally scheduled primary.

In a statement published by several media outlets in Hawaii, Hanabusa said ,”though I will not be challenging the results of this election, I remain very concerned about the public’s confidence and trust in our election process.”

“I ask former colleagues and friends in the Hawaii State Legislature to explore what is necessary to ensure the people that their vote truly counts,” the statement continues. “I heard from many who feel strongly that they were disenfranchised from the voting process this election and I stand ready to support any collaborative effort to have those voices heard,” Hanabusa says.

Late last Friday the Associated Press called the race for Schatz, who beat Hanabusa by 1,769 votes following a rare one-day vote in two precincts in the rural Puna district of the Big Island of Hawaii. The district was ravaged by Tropical Storm Iselle, which downed trees and caused widespread power outages that kept voters from making it to the polls on Aug. 9.

Before last week’s election, Hanabusa filed a legal request to delay the election by a week so residents of Puna could focus on recovering from the storm, but a Hawaii judge denied the request. In interviews following the election, Hanabusa hinted that she might challenge the election in court.

On Tuesday, Schatz issued a statement congratulating Rep. Hanabusa for “waging a tough and spirited battle.”

“This election has been extraordinary from beginning to end. It took heart, teamwork and a belief that together we are making a real difference for our state and our country,” Schatz’s statement reads. “Now it is time for us to unite as we move forward to the general election.”

The election has been one of the toughest Democratic primaries this election season, but Schatz is expected to win the general election come November. A Republican hasn’t won a Senate election in Hawaii since 1970. Schatz and many Democrats believe his progressive stance, particularly his support for expanding Social Security, have and will carry him to victory in the general election.

TIME energy

Why Hawaii Wants Liquefied Natural Gas From the Mainland

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA)
The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) administers the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park (HOST Park). John S Lander—Getty Images

The Aloha state needs to say goodbye to its reliance on petrol and coal, but isn't quite ready to say hello to renewables

The Hawaiian archipelago is among the most isolated places on earth—it’s farther away from a major landmass than any other island chain on the planet. Lacking substantial indigenous fossil fuel resources, any nuclear power sector, or a robust renewables sector, the state is forced to import almost all of the energy it consumes in the form of petroleum and coal, which are easier to transport than other fossil fuels.

As oil prices have climbed in recent years, electricity prices in Hawaii are now between three and fives times higher than average electricity prices on the mainland. Hawaiians hope to change that with liquefied natural gas.

“These islands may soon be able to diversify their energy sources to include natural gas, because relatively low natural gas prices and new shipping technology may allow these islands to import liquefied natural gas (LNG),” writes Energy Information Administration Analyst Allan McFarland. With the development of standardized refrigerated shipping containers, Hawaiian utilities hope to import more LNG to the islands and push the price of electricity down.

But with its sunshine, Pacific breezes, and copious geothermal activity, the Aloha State seems like the perfect place to develop renewable energy resources — especially as fossil fuel resources are so scarce. So why is Hawaii hoping to import more LNG from the mainland instead of developing renewables?

The truth is, Hawaii is investing heavily in renewables. In 2008, the state legislature mandated that 40% of the electricity generated in the archipelago come from renewable sources by 2030. As a result, substantial investments have been made in solar, wind and biomass energy technologies, and with energy efficiency measures added to the mix, the state hopes to meet 70% of its energy needs from clean sources by 2030.

But the geography of the archipelago makes harnessing that energy uniquely difficult. Because the islands run on small electrical grids, rather than the massive regional systems that connect disparate parts of the U.S., the intermittency of wind and solar power—that is, their tendency to vary dramatically from one day to the next—is especially problematic.

Power plants that ramp up production to pick up the slack during lulls, or so-called “load-following” natural gas plants, could help, but “It’s hard to say whether load-following plants would be sufficient,” McFarland tells TIME. Scientists and policymakers hope energy storage technologies that can store excess energy produced on a sunny day to be deployed on a cloudy one might make a contribution. “Improved battery technologies would certainly help,” he said.

But until battery technology catches up, policymakers must rely on LNG to take a bite out of Hawaiian electricity prices — and, in the process, help the islands transition away from expensive petroleum and coal imports.

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