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SOURCE: Honolulu Civil Beat

DATE: November 20, 2019

SNIP: The Kahuku community has risen up to protect themselves and their sacred and winged creatures from the dangers of a new wind energy project. These turbines are 568 feet high, less than 1,750 feet away from Kahuku Elementary, 1,648 feet away from residents and, especially disturbing, 760 feet away from our farmers’ family residences.

Industrial wind turbines are killing winged creatures considered sacred to the Hawaiians and could be responsible for the possible extinction of entire species. This is an indigenous rights issue for Native Hawaiians, and other people of Polynesian ancestry as they are in violation of articles 29 and 31 of the “UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” (2007).

Article 29 states, “Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources.”

[T]he state of Hawaii seeks to solve a problem using the same kind of mentality that created it. It continues to support large scale industrial projects for energy which kill species native people consider sacred. When taken into account all of the environmental damages and fossil fuel consumption necessary to produce them, turbines are not truly green.

Tons of iron ore must be mined from the earth, and transported and manufactured using fossil fuels. They also depend on fossil fuels to keep running and will burden local landfills already overflowing in a short amount of time.

World-renowned cultural anthropologist, Tevita Kaʻili (2019) states that he views “the killing of culturally and spiritually significant winged creatures by turbines as a form of ethnocide, destruction of culture.”

Wind turbines are killing machines. They are responsible for the mass murder of the sacred and endangered opeapea, a species both ecologically and culturally significant to Hawaii. In the Hawaiian creation chant, Kumulipo, the opeapea, or Hawaiian hoary bat, is a kupuna, elder or ancestor, to all Hawaiians. It is a kinolau, or physical embodiment, of Kanaloa, one of the principal deities of Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans, Tahitians, Maori, and others from Moananuiakea (Kaʻili, 2019).

Here is a list of how many opeapea are being killed and how many more current wind projects want to kill: Kawailoa has 60 kills and is asking to kill 205, Kahuku has 40 kills, Pakini Nui has 26 kills, Kaheawa 1 has 20 kills and is asking to kill 30, Kaheawa 2 has 25 kills and is asking to kill 55, Auwahi has 21 kills and is asking to kill 119, Na pua makani is currently approved to kill 85 and Alamilo proposes to kill 80.

In total the state Board of Land and Natural Resources has approved the killing of 706 opeapea with approved and/or proposed take licenses. According to the Maui Invasive Species Committee (2014), “one cause of death is collisions with man-made objects such as communication towers, wind turbines, and barbed wire. This may happen as the bats catch an insect and ‘turn off’ their echolocation for a few seconds to eat.”

Furthermore, Hancock (2019) states, “Bat deaths increasingly occur via wind-turbine strikes and barotrauma — lung explosions caused by sudden changes to proximal air pressure.”