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Residents file lawsuit over Hualalai geothermal exploration

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HILO >> Residents and two advocacy groups are asking a judge to order an environmental assessment for geothermal exploration on Hualalai.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports six Hawaii residents, the Puna Pono Alliance and the Pele Defense Fund are worried the University of Hawaii’s survey will impact the culture and nature of Hualalai.

Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources exempted the project from an environmental assessment due to the location of the 19 subject parcels.

The lawsuit challenges the exemption, and notes that land preservation officials said it’s likely that undocumented historic properties exist on the sites.

Exploration is on hold pending the lawsuit’s resolution.

Donald Thomas directs the University of Hawaii at Hilo Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes. He said an archaeological site survey found no cultural resources.

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