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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kauai utility indicted for violation of endangered species acts


The Garden Island

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A young Newell's shearwater prepares to take off from the edge of a release pen at Makahuena Point on Kauai. Shearwaters are among the birds protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Jan TenBruggencate photo

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LIHUE Kauai Island Utility Cooperative was informed yesterday that the U.S. Department of Justice has obtained an indictment of the cooperative for violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The information came in a KIUC press release.

No further information on the indictment was available by press time for today's issue of The Garden Island.

The Endangered Species Act includes stiff monetary fines for the "taking" of endangered species like the Newell's shearwater and other seabirds, even if the injury or death of the birds is unintentional, such as running into utility wires and poles as the fledgling birds which are born on land but spend most of their lives at sea first make their way to the ocean.

KIUC officials said they were deeply disappointment in the Justice Department's decision to file charges in a matter where KIUC has been working diligently for the past decade with every state and federal government agency and other stakeholders to achieve workable solutions to protect endangered Hawaiian seabirds.

"KIUC has not violated the criminal provisions of either the ESA or the MBTA and will now, as a result of the Justice Department's precipitous and ill-conceived decision to file criminal charges, fight this matter in the United States District Court before a jury of Hawaii's residents who, unlike the Justice Department, will treat KIUC fairly and recognize that the cooperative owned by the residents of Kauai is doing everything reasonably possible to protect the seabirds," said William Goodman, counsel for KIUC.