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Kahuku's Struggle for Energy Justice

Aloha RCR Fam!

We are so incredibly honored and privileged to be speaking with some powerful Kiaʻi from Kahuku! Sunny Unga, Tēvita Kaʻili, and Jessica Dos Santos are educators, parents, and organizers from Kahuku that have been fighting for their community for years. In the two part conversation- we broke it up so you don't miss their brilliance- we discuss not only their fight but also their vision to transform our relationship to energy from the extractive capitalist worldview to one rooted in ʻāina and the places we call home.

Here is what you can expect from each episode:

Kahuku Kiaʻi + Energy (In)Justice:

In the fall of 2019, nearly 200 Kiaʻi were arrested during a month of nightly blockades against the largest wind turbines in the nation from being built so close to homes and schools. This would have been the second set of large industrial wind turbines for their small rural community. We discussed their ten year struggle against one of the largest corporations in the world, AES and what it suggests about the complexities of a just transition away from fossil fuels. But energy transition does not mean energy justice. Their struggle makes it clear that the transition to renewables in the hands of corporations is susceptible to replicating the same environmental racism and injustices seen in dirty energy. Procedural justice is where the decision making structures and processes around energy policy tend to disempower the very communities that are most impacted by that policy. Kahuku’s struggle is a prime example of that.

Transforming Relations to Energy:

In this episode, we pick back up right to where the struggle got super kuʻe and Kahuku engaged in more than a month long blockade to stop the turbines from being constructed. In this part of the conversation, you will hear a lot of what we can think of as distributive justice- where rural, working class, BIPOC communities are disproportionately burdened by the energy system.

But Kahuku isn’t just sharing what they are fighting, they are laying a vision of solutions that come from the people, not the corporations or government. Transform us from fossil fuels to renewable energy b capitalist extractive society to one that is rooted in ʻāina and with the places that we call home. They share a new paradigm of our language and relations to our natural resources, rooting it in our rich cultural history, what energy sovereignty can be for Hawaiʻi, and how everyday people can start engaging.

Make sure to tune in to this powerful conversation.

Stay rooted,

RCR Wāhine

Credit: Jenica Taylor


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