A Senate committee amended a bill authorizing a $25 million special purpose revenue bond for a small electrical satellite launch facility in response to strong opposition from Ka‘u residents.
The bill now says the facility would be built in an “unspecified area in Hawaii” rather than Hawaii Island, according to a Senate press release, which noted the company, SpinLaunch, was looking at a site at Pohue Bay in the Ka‘u District.
“I heard from the people in Ka‘u,” Sen. Glenn Wakai, who introduced the bill in the Senate, said in a statement. “I don’t want to give residents the impression that any future launch site was destined for their neighborhood.”
Wakai, an Oahu Democr, has asked the California company to look for other sites in the state.
“I sincerely apologize for alarming the people of Ka‘u,” he said. “I still believe Hawaii can play a role in the global aerospace industry, but not at Pohue Bay.”
Sen. Josh Green, whose district includes the bay, said the company should have reached out to the community first if they had a specific site in mind.
“If you need to go into the rural Big Island, you need to speak to the people,” he said.
Special purpose revenue bonds help a company receive lower interest rates on loans but don’t involve use of public funds.
Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u, said they are like the state vouching for a project.
But even if the bill passes, it’s still not likely the bond would be approved if the island is against it, he said.
Green said he knows Wakai well but told him he couldn’t support the bill.
He said the company didn’t reach out to him before the bill was introduced.
Wakai will attend the Moku O Keawe Aha Moku O Ka‘u community meting at 10 a.m. April 14 at the Naalehu Community Center to discuss the bill.
He is chair of the Committee on Economic Development, Tourism and Technology.
Email Tom Callis at email@example.com.