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Obama, on Midway Atoll, speaks of protecting planet

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    President Barack Obama arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after a day trip to Midway Atoll tonight.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Barack Obama speaks to media as he tours on Midway Atoll in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Barack Obama bows as he greets workers and volunteers on the tarmac as he arrives on Air Force one at Henderson Field on Midway Atoll in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    After pausing for a moment alone, President Barack Obama walks from the Battle of Midway Navy Memorial to talk to the media as he tours Midway Atoll in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, today.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    President Barack Obama arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Wednesday evening. Oahu commuters can expect more road closures and delays this morning as Obama travels from his Kailua rental home to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and a major international conference gets started at the Blaisdell Center.

Update 9:20 p.m.

Air Force One landed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at 8:38 p.m., following President Barack Obama’s trip to Midway Atoll.

Obama’s motorcade headed for Kailua, where he was expected to spend the night.

Update 3:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama arrived on Midway Atoll today, paying homage to the men killed in a critical World War II battle and stressing the importance of protecting the planet and all its inhabitants from the effects of climate change.

Obama emerged from Air Force One and greeted the roughly 40 inhabitants of Midway who had come out to welcome him. “We are going to have a great time,” he told them.

Later, standing on a pier by Turtle Beach, Obama spoke to reporters. “Let me start by saying that this is hallowed ground,” he said, noting that this was the site of the 1942 Battle of Midway, where “a number of young men lost their lives here … For us to be able to visit this monument and remind ourselves of the sailors and airmen and everyone involved who were able to rebuff the Japanese force, that was vastly outnumbered, is a testament to their courage and their perseverance.”

He went on to address the main themes of his short visit to Honolulu and Midway, promoting his administration’s efforts to protect the environment which includes his decision last month to greatly expand the Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument in the Northwestern Hawaii Islands.

“It is also spectacular as an ecosystem,” he said of the marine monument, “and our ability to not just designate but build on this incredible natural beauty that is home to 7,000 marine species, that sees millions of birds, many of them endangered, sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, black coral, all sorts of species that in many other places we no longer see, we’ll extend that 550,000 miles in ways that ensure not only that Midway itself is protected, that the entire ecosystem will be able to generate the kind of biodiversity that allows us to study it, research and understand our oceans better than we ever have before.”

“And for us to be able to protect and preserve this national monument, to extend it, and, most importantly, to interact with Native Hawaiians and other stakeholders so that the way we protect and manage this facility is consistent with ancient traditions and the best science available, this is going to be a precious resource for generations to come.

“I look forward to knowing that 20 years from now, 40 years from now, 100 years from now this is a place where people can still come to and see what a place like this looks like when it’s not overcrowded or destroyed by human populations,” Obama said.

———

From media pool reports

Update 9:55 a.m.

President Obama departed Oahu aboard Air Force One from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at about 9:50 a.m. today on his way to Midway Atoll, where he will take a tour and get a briefing on Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument.

Obama started his morning with a 6 a.m. workout at a Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe gym, then returned to the Kailua home, before departing again after 9 a.m. He is expected to arrive back on Oahu tonight after 9 p.m.

Previous coverage

Oahu commuters can expect more road closures and delays this morning as President Barack Obama travels from his Kailua rental home to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and a major international conference gets started at the Blaisdell Center.

Obama, who arrived last night and gave a speech at the East-West Center, will leave Honolulu for Midway Atoll, where he is scheduled to receive a briefing from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the Papahanaumokuakea Monument. In the afternoon, the president will tour the island and then deliver a monument designation statement to the members of the press who follow him there.

In the evening Obama will return to Honolulu and remain overnight before leaving for China Friday morning, where he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and participate in his final G-20 Leaders Summit.

Honolulu police will close roads as the president’s motorcade travels to and from Hickam and Kailua this morning and tonight. The exact closures and times have not been disclosed but the president is scheduled to fly out of Hickam after 9:30 a.m. and return after 9 p.m.

On Wednesday, ahead of the president’s evening arrival, many commuters clogged Oahu’s roads by mid-afternoon.

In addition to the president, more than 9,000 delegates from 194 countries convene in Honolulu for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 10 a.m. today at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center and will feature remarks by U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Gov. David Ige.

Commuters are advised to stay away from the Blaisdell area. After today, the meeting moves to the Hawaii Convention Center.

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