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U.S. House Appropriation Committee Approves More Than $3.64 Million in Congresswoman Hirono Requests in Energy & Water Appropriations Bill

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D- Hawai'i) announces approval of several of her highest priority requests in the Energy & Water Appropriations bill by the House Appropriations Committee.

The more than $3.64 million includes funding for research on bioenergy production, studies on the quality of well water on Moloka'i and the feasibility of constructing a boat harbor at Kaho'olawe. It also includes funding for the inspection of flood prevention projects throughout the state, as well as the testing of a new technique for nuclear decontamination.

Project Descriptions

$400,000 for Development of High Yield Feedstock and Biomass Conversion Technology for Renewable Energy Production and Economic Development

The University of Hawai'i possesses more than two decades of experience in bioenergy research and development along with close to a century of internationally recognized expertise in tropical agriculture production. And while school researchers have determined that biodiesel and ethanol are the two most promising biofuels for Hawai'i, work still needs to be done on identifying the best crops or feedstocks and the most efficient production methods. The project aims to increase Hawai'i's energy self-sufficiency by demonstrating the feasibility of commercial bioenergy production.

The funding will help support the development of biomass production systems, biomass conversion technologies, and integrated bioenergy systems, which will likely provide new opportunities for our agricultural sector, support rural employment, and generate new green industries.

On funding for Development of High Yield Feedstock and Biomass Conversion Technology for Renewable Energy Production and Economic Development:

"The development of local energy alternatives in Hawai'i is urgently needed. Hawai'i is almost wholly dependent on imported fossil fuels. Our year-round growing season, available agricultural lands, and high-quality aquatic environments make our state an ideal location for bioenergy production. In addition to making us less dependent on imported fuels, local bioenergy production will strengthen our agricultural base, provide jobs, and help us keep our open spaces and the rural quality of life Hawai'i residents value so highly, especially on the neighbor islands," said Hirono.

$200,000 for Moloka'i Water Resources Study

This funding will be used to complete a critical study on rising salinity levels in several existing production water wells on the island of Moloka'i, which appears to be the result of declining water levels and a rising brackish water transition zone.

Deemed a high priority by the State of Hawai'i, Maui County, and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the study's objective is to determine how the increased withdrawals of water from the production wells affects salinity levels and water levels of other wells. This information is needed for effective management of Moloka'i's groundwater resources.

On funding for a Moloka'i Water Resources Study:

"Protecting Moloka'i's supply of groundwater is essential. Several wells that supply drinking water are experiencing worrisome rises in salinity. This study will provide timely information needed for planners and administrators to make certain that there are no long-lasting adverse impacts on Moloka'i's groundwater resources," said Hirono.

Continued funding for Kaho'olawe Harbor

The State of Hawai'i is in the midst of a multi-staged feasibility study for construction of a small boat harbor on the island of Kaho'olawe. With the initial stage of the study completed in November of 2004, this funding would allow researchers to continue their detailed investigation.

The transport of goods and personnel during the U.S. Navy's unexploded ordnance cleanup activities prior to 2004 between Maui and Kaho'olawe was primarily accomplished with the use of large capacity helicopters. Future restoration and cleanup activities would be greatly aided by being able to use boats for transport.

On the continued funding for Kaho'olawe Harbor:

"The island of Kaho'olawe is a sacred place for Native Hawaiians and all others who consider it a symbol of cultural survival and renewal. The current use of helicopters as the primary means of transportation to and from Kaho'olawe is expensive, especially with the growing cost of fuel. Building a small boat harbor would greatly facilitate the restoration of the island," Hirono said.

Continued funding for Keopu-Hienaloli Stream

The initiation of the design phase for this flood damage reduction project is critical to the overall implementation of a flood mitigation plan for the growing Kailua-Kona area. The continued funding of this project will help initiate its design plans and specification phase.

Flooding problems within the Keopu and Hienaloli basins are attributed to inadequately defined channels, accumulation of debris and vegetation, steep slopes, and inadequate channel and culvert capacities. Flood damages to agriculture land, residential and commercial properties and public roads and utilities are aggravated by deposits of sediment and other debris.

The local sponsor, the County of Hawai'i, remains committed to this project.

On the funding for Keopu-Hienaloli Stream flood damage reduction project:

"The Kailua area of the Big Island has been plagued by serious flooding issues during rare, but heavy rains. Moving forward with the design phase of this flood control project will lead ultimately to improvements that will protect residents and property," said Hirono.

$626,000 for Inspection of Completed Flood Prevention Works

Army Corps flood and coastal damage reduction projects are inspected on an annual basis based on the probability of flood events due to the island chain's general landscape and high energy ocean climate that surrounds it. This funding will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to inspect all its flood damage reduction, coastal damage reduction, and Corps I-wall type levees in the State of Hawai'i.

On funding for the Inspection of Completed Flood Prevention Works:

"Throughout the Hawaiian Islands, flash flooding can occur within 30 minutes of peak rainfall. It is imperative that engineers inspect flood damage reduction projects. Neglecting such inspections could likely lead to structural failure of buildings or bridges, flood damage to property, or worse, lead to severe injuries or death within the project area," said Hirono.

$510,000 for Project Condition Surveys

These funds allow for management of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's dredging program. It will also be used to conduct scheduled hydrographic condition surveys of Hawaiian island harbors along with the inspection of the 25 navigation projects in Hawai'i with federal breakwater structures.

On funding for Honolulu Ports Condition Surveys:

"Commercial ports are the lifeline for our island chain. Uninterrupted operations are critical in sustaining the state's economy. Ensuring that the waterways to our ports are clear and well maintained is clearly a priority," Hirono said.

$200,000 to Assist Hawaii and the Pacific Territories in Water and Land Use Planning

The Planning Assistance to States (PAS) Program provides technical assistance to governments at the state and local levels to address water-related issues in Hawai'i and the Pacific territories. Funds are used to assist in the preparation of comprehensive plans for the development of water and related land resources.

On funding for studies to assist Hawaii and the Pacific Territories address technical water-related issues:

"University of Hawai'i researchers project the ocean level will rise one meter within the next century. Growing populations and continued global warming will place even greater stress on our limited water resources. We must work now to develop forward-thinking strategies and comprehensive plans to meet these challenges," said Hirono.

$1,700,000 for Testing of Polymeric Hydrogels for Radiation Decontamination

The standard protocol for nuclear decontamination is soap and water. But the major drawback is the collecting, transporting, treating, and finally, disposing of the contaminated water.

This funding would go toward the continued development of hydrogel testing and a Department of Energy review of the effectiveness of polymeric hydrogels for radiation decontamination.

Hydrogels dry to a film, making management and disposal both easier and more efficient.

These hydrogels have the unique capacity to penetrate nooks, crannies, uneven surfaces, rivets, and hard surfaces like bricks and concrete, to remove radionucleotides.

Cellular Bioengineering, a company in Honolulu, Hawaii, has been working with the Department of Energy in developing this technology.

On funding for Testing of Polymeric Hydrogels for Radiation Decontamination:

"I was very excited that the Committee approved this funding, which not only promises to deliver a more effective technology for radiation decontamination, but also supports Hawai'i's high technology businesses. Cellular Bioengineering in Honolulu has developed a technology that promises to make management and disposal of contaminated materials safer and more efficient," said Hirono.

The Energy and Water Appropriations bill will likely be considered on the House floor in July.

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