Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Kennedy Releases New Video On Hawaii Wildfires & Government Ineptness


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 

Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. visited Lahaina, Hawaii, located on the island of Maui, in January to see the devastation wrought by the wildfires that destroyed the historic town last August.

Kennedy's campaign has released a video of what he discovered when he met with residents at the site of the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history, with 100 people killed.

"I visited Lahaina last month and saw the tragic reality up close: the Maui wildfire's cascading environmental impacts and toxic aftermath will likely last for years," Kennedy said in a statement accompanying the video's release. "Hazardous debris, chemicals, and undrinkable water plagues the town. The government's mismanagement of the poisonous material cleanup is wreaking havoc on Lahaina's residents, farmland, and groundwater, and risks poisoning the local reef."

Wildfire experts have said that an underlying cause of this fire was the legacy of land clearing by big agricultural interests that took place over the last two centuries. The transformation of native Hawaiian ecosystems to non-native grasslands had made the land more susceptible to wildfires.

Kennedy said, "That original merger of state and corporate power and the injury that came from it is now being compounded by the response, which is short-sighted and money-driven. They are going to take the waste and they are going to do something that is going to ensure the poisoning of the reef. It's just the worst example of government inefficiency and ultimately corruption...

"This unprecedented disaster has diminished everybody in our country because Lahaina was such a jewel. I used to come to this town and it was such a magical spot in the world. It was unique - the roots, the history, and the culture of these extraordinary islands and extraordinary people. It was all taken away because of mismanagement, and because of corporate control of the landscapes by the big agricultural industry that rerouted the water and dried up this lush, verdant area."

Kennedy surveyed the damage with two long-time residents who had a lot to say regarding the federal government's response to this tragedy.

Eddy Garcia is a regenerative farmer in Maui, and he took Kennedy to ground zero of the wildfire to see the burned-out homes, automobiles, appliances, PVC pipes, and other debris. He explained how the fire was an inferno that quickly burned through the town, and the government is doing nothing to stop the PCBs, furan, and dioxins from leaching from the half-burned PVC pipes and AC units into the soil and water.

Then, Garcia pointed out 300,000 gallons of fresh water from a local spring that had been captured in an underground parking garage six months ago. He said the only solution that the government has offered is for this contaminated water to be pumped into the ocean.

There is a sentiment among people Kennedy has met with, and Garcia echoed it when he said, "You're going to give billions to other countries but squabble over a few million to help a town that lost everything?"

Janet Spriter is a local homeowner and artist who lost everything, and she showed Kennedy the ruins of her property, telling him that "nothing" had changed since the day of the fire. 

Kennedy vows that, as President, he will implement comprehensive wildfire management policies and support robust wildfire and emergency-response policies in communities at risk.

According to his campaign, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s wildfire management policies will:

- Stop big corporate interests from abusing landscapes and making them more susceptible to fire.

- Unravel corporate capture in the five federal agencies responsible for wildland fire management - USDA's Forest Service, Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service.

- Restore and regenerate degraded lands.

- Maintain ecologically health, resilient, and fire-resistant forests and grasslands.

- Protect the nation's remaining old-growth forests and revamp forest management.

- Keep combustible materials at manageable levels using controlled burns and other methods.

- Utilize fuel breaks and manage potential wildfire fuels in wildland-urban interfaces (places where homes and infrastructure come into contact with wildlands).

- Create community fire resilience zones in at-risk urban areas.

- Clean up toxic chemicals released by materials burned in urban fires.

- Establish better wildfire emergency response protocols.

- Provide more support for wildfire victims.

MAUI NEEDS US: Please click here to watch this poignant video of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Lahaina.

A screenshot provided by the Kennedy 24 campaign. 

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