Carleton Ching is articulate, personable, intelligent, hard working and from all that I know about him, no doubt he is an honorable man.

Mr. Ching may be an honorable man but he should not be confirmed as Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The question before the Hawaii State Senate is not whether Carleton Ching is an honorable man but to whom and to what values is he honorable?

Anthony Aalto Marjorie Ziegler DLNR

Marjorie Ziegler, right, of the Conservation Council for Hawaii, and Anthony Aalto of the Sierra Club speak at a press conference Jan. 26 outside the Capitol about their opposition to the nomination of Carleton Ching as director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Each of us is imbued with a bias, a certain core perspective that we apply to all things in life.  Our work, our friends, the books that we read, the letters we write and the statements and judgments we make daily all reflect the bias engrained within us as a result of the experiences and people that have shaped our life.

Mr. Ching does not simply work for one of Hawaii’s largest real estate developers but his professional career has to a great extent been focused on actively working to eliminate or weaken regulations intended to protect all that the Department of Land and Natural Resources is supposed to manage and protect.

As a Castle & Cooke lobbyist, VP for the Land Use Research Foundation and Board Member for the Building Industry Association he serves in an influential leadership position in the effort to dismantle key elements now in place to protect public trust resources.

His job at many levels over the past decade is/was to influence changes in public policy to increase the profitability of development interests via the diminishment of environmental, health, cultural and public land protections.

As a Board Member of the Building Industry Association Mr. Ching’s fiduciary responsibility is to support the interests of: developers, general contractors, specialty contractors, suppliers, Realtors, architects and financial institutions.  As recently as a few days ago the BIA was publicly advocating for the dismantling of the State Land Use Commission.

An even more alarming indication of the deep seated bias in support of development and opposed to environmental protections is his role as Vice President at LURF.  LURF’s mission is to “promote and advance the interests of the development community, particularly in the areas of land use laws and regulations.”

LURF touts as some of its major accomplishments:

• LURF fought hard to convince the U.S. Fish and Wild Life Service to reduce critical habitat designations and mandated conservation areas.

• LURF successfully lobbied to reduce requirements for developer applicant reviews by the State Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

• LURF successfully lobbied to require the Department of Health to delete various protections involving native Hawaii rights, historic preservation, coastal zone management and environmental impact reviews for storm water management permits.

• LURF actively opposed the requirement of landowners to provide lateral access along the coast line.

And LURF has been extremely active in what has almost become an annual effort to weaken HRS Chapter 343 (EIS Laws), they were core supporters of the Public Land Development Corporation and numerous other efforts to exempt various development projects from environmental, health, planning and public interest laws now in place.

The mission statement of the Department of Land and Natural Resources is to:  “Enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawaii nei, and its visitors, in partnership with others from the public and private sectors.”

We each have a bias and a unique perspective on life.  Hawaii deserves a Director that is biased toward preserving the resource and protecting the public trust, not someone whose bias is clearly that of promoting increased development and profits while weakening those public trust protections.

Over 20 environmental groups are opposing the nomination of Mr. Ching to be Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.  Please join us and let your Senator and your governor know how you feel on this important issue.

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About the Author

  • Gary Hooser
    Gary Hooser is a former member of the Kauai County Council.  He formerly represented Kauai and Niihau in the Hawaii State Senate where he served as Majority Leader and was Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii during the Abercrombie administration.  He also serves in a volunteer capacity as the President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action.