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Former PG&E attorney to head EPA West Coast office

The Environmental Protection Agency has named a former attorney for the nation's largest utility to head its West Coast office. John Busterud replaces the regional director ousted from the post last week. Busterud worked for Pacific Gas and Electric for three decades. He will manage more than 600 staff employees and oversee environmental protection efforts across EPA’s Region 9. The region includes 50 million people living in California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Former director Mike Stoker said he got a call last week from senior agency officials in Washington, D.C., telling him to resign.


Honolulu seeks private proposals to operate Haiku Stairs

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu has requested proposals from private organizations interested in providing managed, fee-based access to its famed Haiku Stairs. The city has announced that any interested party would need to restore, maintain and operate the Oahu staircase that attracts 4,000 people annually. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply owns most of the property where the stairs are located and says it spends $250,000 annually trying to deter trespassers. The staircase has caused injuries and costly rescues of hikers who ignore security guards and trespassing signs. The board says it intends to turn over the stairs or have them removed.


Coast Guard abandons plans to move grounded Hawaii ship

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — The Coast Guard says it has scrapped plans to move a fishing vessel that ran aground after inspectors discovered flooding in the boat. West Hawaii Today reported the 63-foot ship named Midway Island was grounded Feb. 3 north of Hilo. The Coast Guard says the environmental impact of the grounding has been minimal and that there is no evidence of pollution discharge caused by water in the ship. Contractors found water in the fish hold and the engine room while preparing the ship to be moved. The Coast Guard says it will continue to monitor the vessel until a new plan is approved.


Hawaii legislator proposes expansion of deadly force law

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii legislator has proposed an expansion of the state's law allowing residents to use deadly force to defend themselves at their homes and businesses. Hawaii News Now reported a bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Sean Quinlan would allow people to defend themselves without fear of criminal prosecution. Current law allows residents to use deadly force only if situations occur inside their homes but not outside on their property. Quinlan's proposal is similar to Stand Your Ground laws in other states that say residents do not have to retreat from potentially violent confrontations before using deadly force.


Hawaii lawmakers debate child care and early learning goals

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii lawmakers seeking to increase affordable child care in the state face a debate over the qualifications for providers. Hawaii Public Radio reported Monday that House and Senate leaders have made child care part of a joint legislative package negotiated with Democratic Gov. David Ige. A divide is emerging between those who want flexibility in qualifying for child care or early learning teachers and those who say instructors must be well trained in early childhood education. The bill would establish a state goal of providing access to early learning programs to all 3- to 4-year-old children.


Ex-Army medic sentenced to 35 years for his wife's murder

HONOLULU (AP) — A former Army medic stationed in Hawaii has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for the 2014 murder of his wife. The woman he was having an affair with, who admitted to stabbing his wife to death, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. The judge says she's giving Michael Walker a longer sentence than the 24 years to 30 years he negotiated in a plea deal because he orchestrated the killing. Prosecutors say the two met through an online dating site and Walker told Jackson he was married. Prosecutors say he told Jackson he wanted his wife, Catherine Walker, gone. Walker apologized to her family.