Lever Time with David Sirota

On this week’s episode of Lever Time, Lever news editor Lucy Dean Stockton speaks with former Hawaii state representative and national director of the Green New Deal Network Kaniela Ing about the recent wildfires in Maui.

On August 8th, a wildfire swept through the historic city of Lahaina, reducing almost every building to ash and killing more than 100 people. Scores of Lahaina residents have lost their homes, and more than 800 people are still missing as emergency responders address the crisis. As the community reels from the tragedy, people are examining the complicated roles that colonialism, climate change, and private equity played in the disaster.

In today’s interview, Lucy speaks with Kaniela, a seventh-generation indigenous Hawaiian, about current conditions in Maui, how the island’s underserviced electrical infrastructure contributed to the disaster, and how the Lahaina community is looking to rebuild. They also discuss Maui County’s landmark climate lawsuit against Big Oil, which alleges that oil companies knowingly made the climate crisis worse by selling and burning fossil fuels.

A transcript of this episode is available here.

BONUS: On Monday's bonus episode of Lever Time Premium, exclusively for The Lever’s supporting subscribers, we’ll be sharing our interview with historian Harvey Kaye and progressive activist Alan Minsky about the unfinished business of FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights.

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What is Lever Time with David Sirota?

From LeverNews.com — Lever Time is the flagship podcast from the investigative news outlet The Lever. Hosted by award-winning journalist, Oscar-nominated writer, and Bernie Sanders' 2020 speechwriter David Sirota, Lever Time features exclusive reporting from The Lever’s newsroom, high-profile guest interviews, and expert analysis from the sharpest minds in media and politics.

David Sirota: [00:00:00]

Hey everyone, and welcome to another episode of Lever Time. I'm David Sirota.

On today's show, we're going to be talking about the recent wildfires in Hawaii, which nearly wiped out the historic city of Lahaina. And they've killed over a hundred people and roughly 800 people are still missing as of this recording. These fires have devastated communities on the island of Maui.

Many people have lost their entire homes.

While fires like these are the result of climate fueled extreme weather events, some people are now saying what happened in Maui is also shit. the result of underserviced utility infrastructure. For today's interview, we're going to be talking with Kenyella Ng, a former Hawaii State Representative and now the National Director of the Green New Deal Network.

Kenyella speaks with us about what needs to be done to protect [00:01:00] Hawaiian communities from disasters like this in the future. And we also talk about the landmark climate lawsuit in which Maui County is right now. Suing the fossil fuel industry over its role in the climate crisis. That lawsuit preceded these fires.

For our paid subscribers, we're also always dropping bonus episodes into our Lever Premium podcast feed. This past Monday, we shared our interview with historian Harvey K. and progressive activist Alan Minsky about the unfinished business of FDR's economic bill of rights. Harvey and Allen have been advocating for a 21st century economic bill of rights, and they explain why it's needed now more than ever.

If you want access to our premium content, head over to levernews. com and click the subscribe button in the top right to become a supporting subscriber. That gives you access to the Lever Premium podcast feed, exclusive live events, even more in depth reporting, and you'll be directly supporting the investigative journalism that we do here at The Lever.

I'm here [00:02:00] today with Lever Times producer, producer Frank. Hey, Frank.

Frank Cappello: Hey, David. I feel like I haven't seen you in a minute. How you been? What's, what's going on in Sarotaland?

David Sirota: Uh, I've been traveling, been working on a, uh, bigger project that's taken me a little bit away from the, the news cycle, which I'm actually, um, happy about because the news cycle seems to be, uh, mostly doom and gloom right now, or not really doom and gloom, I guess, um, mostly fires, fires, and more fires, I guess fires and flooding, you could add to that.

Uh, the California flooding, of course, happened this week as well. It's, it's a pretty sad state of affairs.

Frank Cappello: I just saw some of those photos from Palm Desert and I, I lived in Los Angeles for over a decade with, you know, regularly jaunt out to Palm Springs and Palm Desert. I could not recognize Palm Desert. I was blown away by those photos. If you've ever been to Palm Desert, it is just a desert. So the idea that massive amounts of flood water could find its way into that valley, I just, I was blown away by those photos.

David Sirota: of rain all at one time in a desert is a scary thing. Flash flooding is a real, uh, [00:03:00] really, really scary thing. Um, it's, they have an exhibit here at the, uh, at the Denver Aquarium where they simulate a flash flood.

Frank Cappello: yeah, that sounds super

David Sirota: I kind of, I kind of eye rolled it, like, how can you simulate a flash flood?

And it's actually super terrifying. They, they have this kind of wall of water come at you, and it's, of course, it's, it stops before it gets to you, but you, you get a sense of how, how horrifying, uh, it can be. I was actually, right after we had seen that, Emily and I were actually hiking in the desert and a thunderstorm came over and we like sprinted back to where we were staying.

I was, I was super terrified of it. So I'm, I guess I'm surprised, uh, in the sense of, um, The fact that a hurricane or a tropical storm hit the desert, in some ways, I guess I'm not surprised because the year of climate change, and I guess anything goes, but I'm not surprised to have seen, uh, what a lot of rain does to a desert.

Now, speaking of California, before we get to our interview today, I [00:04:00] want to talk about a story that we reported at The Lever this week about a huge climate fight that is actually happening in California, uh, under the radar, uh, it's a, it's a story of how the fossil fuel industry is trying to, uh, big shocker stop a good piece of legislation.

And it's a really important piece of legislation, whether or not you live in California. Here's what's going on. In the next few weeks, the California state assembly is expected to vote on a landmark climate transparency bill. This bill would require thousands of large companies doing business in the state to fully disclose their carbon emissions, which, because California is such a big state, it would effectively set national policy.

Most major companies do business in California, so whatever California decides to do, regulatorily, that can set standards for the whole country. Now, if this measure passes, all of those huge companies will be required for the [00:05:00] very first time. to calculate the carbon emissions that occur across their entire supply chain.

Not just those involved directly in their day to day operations. So, they're going to have to account for all of the carbon emissions that are involved in not only creating their products, but getting them to market. And so that is a much bigger form of disclosure than we've ever seen. Those indirect emissions, they can account for nearly 90% of a company's total carbon footprint.

Frank Cappello: So David, would it be right to say that these companies would have to account for all of their business, not just in the state of California, but all of their supply chain business across the country and potentially the world?

David Sirota: that's right. And so if you are a company that, let's say you're developing. a technological product that is manufactured, let's say, overseas. Your company in the United States or in California does the [00:06:00] design, um, your, it's produced overseas and then shipped to customers all over the world. You can't Just say that your carbon emissions are the emissions from let's say your office this kind of bill would say that you have to account for all of the carbon emissions in creating the product in Shipping the inputs to create the product in shipping the product to market That's where a lot of those emissions are from now, California Governor Gavin Newsom the Democrat He has yet to weigh in on this year's climate proposal in his state, this big disclosure bill.

A spokesperson told The Lever that Governor Newsom plans to evaluate the bill if it reaches his desk. So he's not even... Saying that he won't veto it. He's not saying much of anything now. Here's the kicker, which I'm sure you can guess the fossil fuel industry and other industry groups have been lobbying [00:07:00] against this bill and have been spending millions of dollars in an attempt to block the legislation.

It's the fossil fuel industry. It's also other kinds of companies. We reported earlier this year that in an out burger. As an example, uh, was involved in lobbying on this bill, right? So big companies that have carbon intensive products, many of them also don't want to have to tell the public their carbon footprint.

so far this year, Industry opponents have reported spending more than 7 million on state lobbying efforts that included attempting to influence, weaken, or kill this piece of legislation. Those opponents, as I said, they include oil and gas companies. Cement and asphalt companies, airlines, uh, Coca Cola, Costco, as I said, In N Out Burger, Pepsi, Rite Aid, Walmart.

So it's huge companies don't want to have to tell us what their [00:08:00] real impact on the climate crisis really is. They want to keep that hidden. And Frank, my thing is, look, some industries are more carbon intensive than others. The whole point of this bill is that we should at least know the lay of the land. I mean, I guess I'm not surprised that there's this lobbying against it. If we can't. At least get to disclosure. How are we ever going to get to a serious climate policy? Right? Part of the disclosure issue is to know where carbon emissions are really intense and are really happening so that we can adjust policy correctly to reduce those emissions.

Frank Cappello: Yeah, that's the part that boggles my mind Is that this isn't even a law that would require these companies to reduce their emissions It's just to tell us just tell us what you're doing over there. I guess it's not surprising these companies are going to push back on anything that regulates them for the most part, uh, anything that might eat into [00:09:00] their margins, but it's really galling, especially right now in this moment in 2023, which I think, like, we've seen the accelerated adverse effects of the climate crisis and it really feels like we're at that kind of moment where it's like, get on board and start helping out.

I'm curious how long companies are gonna be able to get away with stuff like this before there is like actual, real, public pushback against them.

David Sirota: California is a democratic state. The legislature has a democratic super majority. So whether or not this bill passes will be up to Democrats in general, and probably it will come down to a handful of Democrats. The fact that Newsom is staying out, I mean, that is not. a good sign.

That is not exactly a profile in courage. And he has done some decent things on climate. But, but in this case, staying silent, again, not exactly a profile in courage. And you can bet [00:10:00] that this is going to come down to a handful of Democratic legislators in Sacramento. And it will have, I want to reiterate this, it will have massive national implications if this bill can pass.

Good implications, again, because every big company does business in California. There aren't big companies that have the luxury of being like, Hey, we're not going to do business in California. So if California mandates this disclosure, frankly, it will create Global policy. We are going to continue to report on it at the lever.

So check our website at lever news. com. Okay, let's stop there because we should get to our main interview with Kenyella Ng about the wildfires in Maui and the county's lawsuit against big oil. That's coming up after a quick break.

Welcome back to lever time for our main story today. We're going to be talking about the recent wildfire in Hawaii. On August 8th, a wildfire swept through the historic city of Lahaina on [00:11:00] the island of Maui, reducing almost every building to ash and killing over 100 people. If you've seen photos or videos of the fire and its aftermath, it is truly devastating.

More than 800 people As of this recording, are still missing, as emergency responders address the crisis, while many Lahaina residents lost their entire homes and more. At The Lever, we regularly report on the destructive effects of the climate crisis, and the ways it has been exacerbated by the fossil fuel industry and its allies.

and What happened in Maui. is the direct result of those forces. But there is some slightly good news here. In 2020, Maui County sued a number of oil companies like Exxon and Chevron over their role in the climate crisis. Maui County's lawsuit accused the oil companies of knowingly making the crisis worse through the selling and burning of [00:12:00] fossil fuels and through a What they call in their court filings, a coordinated multi front effort to conceal and deny their own knowledge.

So for today's interview, the Lever's news editor, Lucy Dean Stockton, spoke with former Hawaii state representative and national director of the Green New Deal Network, Kanyela Ng. Lucy speaks with Kanyela about current conditions in Maui.

They also talk about what can be done to prevent tragedies like this in the future, and they talk about how Maui County's landmark lawsuit against Big Oil could change the game moving forward.

Lucy Dean Stockton: first of all, Kanyelo, um, thank you so much for taking the time to be here with us today.

We're gonna be talking about a few things today. we'll be talking about the lawsuit, about Hawaiian Electric and private utilities, um, but before we begin, um, I first just want to say how sorry we are for what the people of Maui and Lahaina are experiencing.

truly, our hearts go out to you and the communities there [00:13:00] who are still very much suffering through this tragedy. thank you again for taking the time. Before we get into everything that's happened in Maui over the last couple of weeks, I want to go back a little bit and set up some context for our audience.

this wildfire isn't just a story about climate change, it's also a story about colonialism and capitalism. Um, would you mind telling us a little bit about Hawaii's history and how we've arrived at this point?

Kaniela Ing: Sure, yeah, so well, where do we start? yeah, so Hawaii wasn't always a state. Um, many folks don't consider it a state. The U. S. themselves have admitted in the apology resolution in 1992, of that it was illegally overthrown. and Our history, uh, is deeply rooted in this town of Lahaina. Before we were a state, before we were a territory, when we were the kingdom of Hawaiʻi, it was our capital.

it wasn't the tinderbox that it is now. It was a lush wetland. Um, but at the turn of the 20th century, Sugar Barons, far right American businessmen, [00:14:00] oligarchs, uh, diverted. Water illicitly, um, from Lahaina to irrigate the land they stole, um, that, you know, for monocross, for sugar, and what was once a place of bounty, uh, of the world's earliest aquaculture systems, we had local eo, uh, like the earliest fish ponds, uh, that that sustained us. but you know, once, once the water was taken away, it became, uh, a dry and and dangerous place for disasters like these. so the descendants of the sugar barons continue to have oligarchical control in some ways over our economy and government, uh, Alexander and Baldwin. Those are two of the original quote unquote, big five missionary families, uh, from Ontario. Centuries ago, uh, and today it's the, that's the largest corporation and landowner and political donor or among the top on Maui. So, uh, you know, it persists. They get vast profits off of, uh, the divergent of [00:15:00] our, of our resources and control of our politicians.

Lucy Dean Stockton: I mean, you're really seeing history play out in these modern systems, too. And, um, I guess, can you also tell me, like, there is what many people liken to sort of a new form of neocolonialism is Hawaii's tourism industry. Can you talk a little bit about what that looks like, on the ground, how it's changed the island?

Kaniela Ing: Sure. So, as they diverted water away from kalo farmers and family farmers, um, they built. Subdivisions for new residents moving into Maui and they build hotels and and then they say well we can't give you water back because this community relies on it so they pit you against them and we can't give you water back because, uh, this hotel and therefore all the workers and the union that represents those workers wouldn't appreciate that.

Uh, so, you know, it's like, uh, you're stuck in this, in, in this bind where that you're pitted against other members [00:16:00] of the community. and In tourism, tourism in particular, time and time again, like every time Hawaii seems to make national news and gets this, this spate of media, um, it's around crises like these, like last, last time I had to Make the rounds to the circuit was when, uh, upcountry Maui, where I'm from, uh, people were getting charged 500 find 500 for water in your lawn during a drought while the hotels continue to have their water slides and fountains or pools were filled.

And it's just like that those gross symbols of, um, second class citizenry where the people who play here and see Hawaii as their playground are treated. Um, better by our government that we fund than, than, than the citizens,

Lucy Dean Stockton: Right.

Kaniela Ing: of Hawaiʻi. So, you know, that, that plays out time and time again, um, in different ways.

Lucy Dean Stockton: And you said also, I mean, that people, um, aren't able to water their lawns. [00:17:00] Um, can you also talk a little bit about how the ecology of the area has changed?

Kaniela Ing: Yeah, Lahaina was once a lush, uh, wetland with, um, sprawling local iʻa fish ponds, some of the early, earliest, uh, systems of aquaculture where you could take a boat around the famous Waiʻola Church, which, you know, unfortunately burnt down. Yeah, that water was diverted for hotels and monocrops by the original colonizers and, uh, yeah, now our, our economy, uh, which is stood up by the pillars of tourism and land speculation, um, can only function, uh, with, with the diverted water.

So, um, you're caught in this bind, um, but both tourism and land and real estate or land speculation. are paradoxical in their nature. They rely on preserving Maui's natural beauty and resources, but also developing and destroying them. [00:18:00] So it's inherently unsustainable and as much as politicians like to talk about diversifying our economy, their actions speak otherwise.

With, uh, You know, the state government is still subsidizing the marketing budgets for multinational hotel conglomerates, um, in the form of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. so, you know, it's, in order for a new industry to pop up in this capitalist system, um, uh, something needs to sunset. And through our subsidies, we're really picking winners and losers.

And when we, and when we choose to subsidize tourism, uh, we all lose.

Lucy Dean Stockton: Wow. No, that's a, that's a really important way to talk about that paradox between these industries that economies ostensibly need, but the industries that are also hurting the communities that support them. , just to return quickly. So you've mentioned how the landscape has changed, but There's also been a lot of scrutiny on Hawaiian Electric, um, the privately owned utility company that provides electricity for, I think, 95% of the [00:19:00] state.

State lawmakers and county officials have been raising the alarm for years that Hawaiian Electric desperately needs to update this infrastructure to adapt to these increasingly extreme weather events. But we've seen that they've actually been, there's been really slow movement from the utility company.

And I also just want to note that, um, two major shareholders of Hawaiian Electric are the private equity company's Vanguard and the other is the largest asset manager in the world, BlackRock. Um, can you talk a little bit about this infrastructure and how it contributed to the fires?

Kaniela Ing: Sure. Uh, so. no one's rooting for HIKO to collapse locally.

Lucy Dean Stockton: HECO is what it's

colloquially known as.

Kaniela Ing: yeah. So no one, no one's rooting for Hawaiian Electric or as we call it in Hawaii HIKO, uh, to collapse because they're, um, seen as like a very rooted, uh, local company. My, my grandpa worked there as a dispatcher for 45 years and, you know, we're a working class family.

We don't have. [00:20:00] Like my mom was forced to sell our house on Maui. We got pushed out without a fire, you know, the fire just accelerates these injustices um, so there's no wealth in our family aside from Hiko stock that my grandma has in her retirement account so You know what? It's sad. uh, but at the same time, I think folks need to realize, first of all, that the colonial history of Hiko, but also the modern version of Hiko, it's like a local veneer, like they'll hire the most rooted community members to do their PR and community relations, but their shareholders tend to be out of state with very little stake or even interest on our islands.

So, um, You know, that's another conundrum that we have that we're facing now. you know, when I was a state legislator, for example, um, it was clear that HECO's model of buying or generating and selling power, um, was unsustainable and not, [00:21:00] it disincentivized, like, the clean energy transition. If they were to just operate as a grid management system and allowed The proliferation of rooftop solar, for example, we would have, we would be much, much farther than our global energy goals. But, you know, they ended net metering and they tried to monopolize, uh, the solar and wind industry. And, once the coal plant shut down on Oahu, uh, just recently, they ran ads using rate payer money, um, to. Blame renewables for rising costs. Um, we're in our electric bills right now around 600.

Lucy Dean Stockton: Which I think is the highest in the country. Is that right?

Kaniela Ing: by far, sometimes two or three times higher than a second place.

second place, like it's a contest. Um, a rate, but the wild thing is like, if you, 1. 4 million median housing price. Uh, [00:22:00] without underground power lines, let alone ill maintained power lines to the point where 70 mile per hour winds would just blow them over. Um, and, you know, that's, that was the case with La Haina.

So, like, on, on one hand, you'll see HECO doing a shareholder meeting with, with the private equity firms talking about record profits, uh, while we're paying 600 a month. Um, and with my quote unquote third world, uh, infrastructure, uh, so, you know, that's another vestige of our colonial past. And, if they invest in our infrastructure, like they should, given how much we pay, uh, the fire would have never been, never spread, uh, the way it did.

Lucy Dean Stockton: Right. And they've known as early as 2019 that fire was an increasing risk on the island and across all of the islands. They said they've spent hundreds of millions on equipment replacement and vegetation management, but they haven't even put them underground. Is that right?

Kaniela Ing: Yeah. And I think it's important for folks to understand that this isn't just like a mismanagement, Like bad decisions that were [00:23:00] made. Uh, this is the same incentives that private utilities face everywhere, uh, where it makes more sense to try to get subsidies to build, brand new facilities.

And like the bigger the project, the better off it is for shareholders rather than actually fixing existing infrastructure. Like that's an incentive structure that Uh, persists across the United States. Um, so, you know, it's, it's a systemic problem and simply, you know, I mean, executives should be held accountable, but, you know, you get rid of one CEO, uh, and the next one will come in and do the same thing.

So, there needs to be, um, like, uh, demand from the people for systems change.

Lucy Dean Stockton: Totally. And this all comes at the same time that they're not necessarily, um, investing in renewable infrastructure, which is obviously exacerbating climate change, um, in Hawaii. I'd actually like to turn to climate change and what Hawaii, the state is doing within the legal system to fight back against the fossil fuel industry.

The state is very much on the forefront of taking legal action against big [00:24:00] oil in 2022. A group of 14 Hawaiian youth. Sued the Hawaiian Department of Transportation over its greenhouse gas emissions, and in 2020, both the Honolulu government and Maui County sued a number of oil companies, including Exxon, shell, and Chevron.

could you tell me a little bit more about these lawsuits, the status of Maui's lawsuit, and how you think these fires may impact the case?

Kaniela Ing: Sure. back in 2018, 2019, I was actually, uh, doing some consultant work on, on this project of trying to get Maui and Oahu. County governments to sue Big Oil for the climate disasters that, that they caused. and I'm encouraged to see that it's going through the system, um, taken up by the state Supreme Court.

uh, you know, we could use as much vocal support for these, lawsuits as possible. you know, I know some politicians are, don't want to. Kind of involve themselves in the judicial system, [00:25:00] um, as if there's a papyer wall, um, as if they haven't seen, uh, how, like, the Supreme Court of the United States, the top court operates, um, but, you know, now is the time, um, if, if you feel, any conviction around a livable planet for not just our kids, but right now, it's time to speak up.

Lucy Dean Stockton: And just for our listeners, I realize maybe I should have prefaced that a bit more, but could you actually tell me, um, about the, the youth lawsuits and maybe how they mirror, um, the recent victory in Montana or the federal lawsuit happening?

Kaniela Ing: Yeah, I mean, it's. It's remarkable to see. The idea that there's these lawsuits happening, not just at the national level, but, um, or the federal level, but across different states in a, in a concerted national effort Is important, but I will say that history, especially coming from in Hawaii, where we want a lot of really monumental, um, legal battles, including the public trust doctrine [00:26:00] that mandates that waterways be kept private.

it simply isn't enough. there's ways to skirt around it. Uh, we, we're not going to be able to in the long run have like the same. Scale and volume of like expertise and volume of lawyers that these corporations have, so, you know, while lawsuits are a great tactic, uh, it's, they're only part of a broader strategy of, um, movement building, um, and without like a continued support of like impacted a base of impacted people, organizing, um, themselves and, uh, activists and media shifting the broader narrative and changing the political common sense of the populace, uh, these lawsuits will be rather useless.

Lucy Dean Stockton: Right. Like, it's essential to build that sort of climate, climate friendly legal infrastructure, but we also need to be operating on other levers of power and maybe even changing economic incentives.

Kaniela Ing: Exactly.

Lucy Dean Stockton: and I'm wondering if we could turn to you. you're the [00:27:00] national director of the Green New Deal Network, a coalition of 14 different organizations.

Can you tell us about the work you do there?

Kaniela Ing: Sure. So Green New Deal, something I ran on in 2018. There was a lot of at that time. It was like if you're into climate, the boldest thing you can do is support a carbon tax, and it just seemed to lack political imagination. It didn't have that inspirational quality that like something positive to shoot for.

It's like, you know, People are bringing building their platforms around banning bags and paper straws and just things that people have to give up and, what was needed. I thought at that moment was like a vision of like, what, what can we get? Like, well, what, what better world exists on the other side of the clean energy transition?

so, you know, You know, Sunrise Movement, Youth Climate Strikes, like it just blew up after the election of, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and a bunch of [00:28:00] really influential progressive groups, including labor, frontline groups, indigenous groups, big greens. Everyone's like, can we just put aside our differences and consolidate our power around the climate agenda?

So, so, we formed the GNDN. This is when I was with People's Action at the time. And, uh, we're able to resource. Similar coalitions across 23 states and, uh, figuring out where the levers of power are, uh, in, in a moment in the election year and, kind of drive the agenda of what the Build Back Better, once President Biden was elected, what Build Back Better would actually look like.

Uh, so we set a stake in the ground of a trillion dollars a year in investments that centered climate care, jobs and justice. And, um, you know. Of course, if you don't have 100% of the power, you won't win 100% of your demands, but we've made sure we focus on the needs of the most impacted, and ultimately, it resulted in the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Now, you know, that bill isn't perfect by any means. There are harms in that bill that will actually, um, hurt our [00:29:00] communities, so we've been focusing on like, Uh, just implementation of the law, maximizing the goods, minimizing the harms, and also like introducing various green new deal bills and making sure there's public support, uh, behind them.

Uh, and, unfortunately, like a lot of the work that we're doing now and we'll be doing in the future is going to be around rebuilding efforts for climate disasters. so, you know, it. It's, it's heavy, um, and I think the one thing that we continue to call for is to straight up President Biden needs to declare a climate, uh, climate emergency, and ending fossil fuels, that means denying permits, and then investing at least a trillion dollars a year moving forward. Uh, so far, uh, no candidate running for president on either side, um, including Democrats, have, uh, have been campaigning on anything other than what they've already done.

Uh, on climate and that's, that's not enough. Uh, you know, this, this three degrees, four degrees of warming is still [00:30:00] catastrophic. I used to talk about it in terms of like my kids, you know, will they have clean air and clean water? Like, that's not right. It's, you can wake up tomorrow morning and your community can be flattened.

your church you go to, your kid's school, the grocery store you shop at could be reduced to ashes. Tomorrow, that's the urgency we're operating under and anything less than investing a trillion a year and ending fossil fuels now, uh, is an insult to all the friends and family and neighbors that we lost in this fire a couple weeks ago.

Lucy Dean Stockton: Again, um, it shouldn't take such an enormous tragedy, to recognize the shortcomings of our system. And I know we've covered a lot of shortcomings on the Inflation Reduction Act, but I also, um, I really appreciate the work that you do at the Green New Deal Network, um, to build forward. I think it's really special to be assembling a coalition of everything [00:31:00] from, um, Indigenous advocacy groups, to unions, to parties like the Working Families Party, the Movement for Black Lives, housing justice organizations, on a similar and aligned goal.

Kaniela Ing: Thank you. Yeah, it's not, it's, it's difficult work and it takes a lot of trust building, and, you know, I think the, the speed in which the climate crisis forces us to operate isn't always conducive to that. So, um, you know, it takes a lot of grace and love for one another. And, you know, I encourage your listeners and anyone in our movements, especially on the left to...

understand that, like, just know who your people are and keep them close and focus on the longer game, um, because there are, there are, uh, people out there who, are indifferent to our survival.

Lucy Dean Stockton: I think this provides actually a really nice segue, um, which is that lastly, if our audience wants to contribute to the relief effort in Maui, where should they go?

Kaniela Ing: Right, so there's been some [00:32:00] incredible outpouring of support, some of the bigger funds that are best poised, uh, to deliver immediate benefits are also, uh, the most likely to enable disaster capitalists to profit off of the disaster, so that's, That's, that's been a challenge, but now that Red Cross is, you know, and FEMA are out in full force, um, and people are moving from shelters to permanent, more permanent housing, needs for like food and water have subsided, uh, for the most part, um, and we realize when disaster capitalists really strike, it's less about individual realtors calling families, And we're about a year down the line when there's regulatory and political and legislative fights, including elections.

that's when communities tend to get blindsided because the scale of rebuilding is 6 billion. So we can raise 20 million or so, um, but that's not going to cover it. It's going to have to come from government. Or private equity, we can't let that happen, but like, if it comes [00:33:00] from government, um, who's controlling those processes and who ultimately benefits, uh, is the questions.

Uh, so we've created, we banded together the most accountable funds that have been popping out the most rooted and created the Maui recovery fund. and that's maui recovery fund dot org where, uh. There, there's more flexibility there where we are giving a lot of direct aid. We're also encouraging like direct venmos to two families, but, um, understanding that this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.

And once the cameras are gone and volunteer, um, energy wanes, we need to have something sustainable to actually contest power at every level. So yeah, Maui Just Recovery Fund or mauirecoveryfund. org. Um, uh, is, is, is the place that, uh, I think would be most impactful. And, you know, that, that includes like C3 funds and C4 funds where you can actually get political.

Lucy Dean Stockton: Great. that's, that's wonderful. We will be linking that in our episode notes. Thank [00:34:00] you again so much for taking the time. I'm sure this is a really busy time for you. Kanyela Ng is a former Hawaii state representative, the co founder of Our Hawaii and the national director of the Green New Deal Network. truly.

Thank you for being with us. it was great to talk with you.

Kaniela Ing: Thanks so much for having me and for caring about our home here in Hawaii. That's it for today's show. As a reminder, our paid subscribers who get LeverTime Premium, you get access to this past Monday's bonus episode. It's our interview with historian Harvey Kay and progressive activist Alan Minsky about the unfinished business of FDR's Economic Bill of Rights.

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The Lever Time Podcast is a production of the Lever and the Lever Podcast Network. It's hosted by me, David Sirota. Our producer is Frank Capello with help from Lever producer, Jared Jacang Mayor.