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Kauai utility: Guilty on species act violations

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 1:32 p.m. HST, Dec 2, 2010

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has pleaded guilty to two violations of federal law involving seabirds that were harmed by the cooperative's power lines and street lights.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday said KIUC pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Endangered Species Act by knowingly harming or killing at least 14 Newell's shearwaters at or near Kealia Beach.

The cooperative also pleaded guilty to a count of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by harming at least 18 of the birds at its Port Allen facility.

Assistant Attorney General Ignacio Moreno says legal action was taken only after lengthy efforts to resolve ongoing violations.

KIUC Board Chairman Phil Tacbian issued a statement saying the guilty pleas were part of a settlement that “ensures that maximum benefits go to the protection of the seabirds rather than to the federal government in the form of large fines and other criminal penalties.”

KIUC said it will pay $225,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with the money specifically allocated to shearwater projects on Kaua‘i.

KIUC also said it will pay $40,000 in fines as part of its guilty plea.

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