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DHHL geothermal revenue must go to Hawaiians, state AG says


Attorney General David M. Louie announced today that he has issued a Formal Opinion concluding All of the royalties derived from geothermal resources development on Hawaiian home lands must be used for the benefit of native Hawaiians, Hawaii Attorney General David M. Louie announced Tuesday.

Louie, in Formal Opinion No. 14-1, concluded that pursuant to article XII, sections 1 and 3, of the Hawaii State Constitution, and section 4 of the Admissions Act, 100 percent of the royalties derived from geothermal resource development on Hawaiian home lands must be paid to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to be used for the benefit of native Hawaiians.

Upon admission of Hawaii as a state, Hawaii accepted responsibility to manage and dispose of the Hawaiian home lands under the terms of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920, as amended. Section 203 of the act describes the lands that comprise the Hawaiian home lands.

The Admissions Act provides that “all proceeds and income from the ‘available lands,’ as defined by the (HHCA), shall be used only in carrying out the provisions of (the HHCA).”

“Following a comprehensive legal analysis by the capable deputy attorneys general in my office, I have concluded that the DHHL has the right to receive all proceeds and income from the available lands, including 100 percent of the royalties derived from geothermal resource development,” Louie said in a prepared statement.

Based on the analysis of sections 204 and 206 of the HHCA, the opinion also concludes that DHHL is the state entity authorized to manage geothermal resources on Hawaiian home lands.

“I hope that by issuing Op. No. 14-1, the Legislature and the community will have a greater appreciation of the constitutional and legal foundation for DHHL’s rights to the economic benefits of geothermal resource development on Hawaiian home lands,” Louie said.

A copy of the opinion is avaialble by clicking here.