Saturday | April 30, 2016
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Nakashima seeks expansion of hydrogen as fuel source

The Hawaii State Plan needs to be revisited and revamped in order for Hawaii to successfully move into the future, said state House Rep. Mark Nakashima, a Democrat again vying to represent constituents in the North Hilo, Hamakua and Kohala areas.

Nakashima, elected to his first term representing state House District 1 in 2010, said he only learned of the plan and its purpose outlining future goals, objectives, policies and priorities for the state near the end of his first term. Though his decisions directly affect the state’s future, he said he had never received a copy.

After some looking into, Nakashima said he realized the plan, developed in 1978, was in some cases out of date, but still had potential to help Hawaii move steadily into the future. Now, if re-elected, he wants the plan not only updated, but also circulated throughout government — including to all legislators.

“If you have the goal in mind, then everyone can work toward the same goal,” he said noting the importance of continuity rather than starting over every new administration.

Nakashima will face Noralyn Pajimola, a Pepeekeo resident, for the Democrat ticket in the Aug. 11 primary election.

In his first term, Nakashima said he introduced and passed a bill creating regulations for hydrogen dispensing in Hawaii. Those regulations set the state up to safely enable a “hydrogen economy.”

Hydrogen dispensing in Hawaii involves siphoning water, including brackish water, from the ground and electrolyzing it to create hydrogen, he said. It can then be used as fuel for vehicles — reducing the state’s fossil fuel dependence.

The technology is being tested at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Oahu, Nakashima said. There, researchers are using photovoltaic panels to run equipment that siphons water and renders it into hydrogen. He hopes, if re-elected, to get the county or state involved in a similar pilot project on Hawaii Island.

Hydrogen is just one means for reducing the state’s reliance on fossil fuels, Nakashima said, also pointing to geothermal energy as another. He noted geothermal energy is likely the best candidate for a production increase.

The state should also be involved in the process of expanding geothermal production by not only identifying sources, but also exploring them, he said. Preidentified sites could then be bid out to a company for further development.

“Once some of the risk is gone, for them to come in with the funding for investments for the development is a lot easier,” he explained.

In the education realm, Nakashima said the Legislature can help improve public schools by requiring evaluations of principals and teachers. Though contained in Act 51, which became law in 2006, principals have not yet been evaluated. Teacher evaluations were considered but not passed by the Legislature this year.

Nakashima also pointed to changing per pupil allocations as a means for improving Hawaii’s education system. The current system, which allocates funding based on student population, is not fair to rural schools that often have larger campuses and fewer students.

“While the funding is equal per pupil, I don’t think it’s equitable in terms of the opportunities being available for students at the smaller rural schools,” he said.

Nakashima also said he would not vote for tax increases, but supports user fees because those fees are assessed on a party, not the public at large, that directly benefits from the services or facilities.