Gov. David Ige says he’s confident in his pick to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources, despite strong opposition.
On Friday, Ige nominated Carleton Ching to DLNR chair. A petition started by the Sierra Club, which expanded to include more than 20 environmental groups, asks the governor to reconsider.
“We were blind-sided by this appointment. It was announced on Friday and the truth is, we’ve actually been overtaken by the reaction of just our average members,” said Anthony Aalto, Sierra Club spokesperson. “We did not have… a chance to have a meeting. One of our members started a petition. We already have nearly 5,000 signatures on that petition. There were nearly 2,000 signatures within 24 hours.”
Ching currently serves as vice president of community and government relations for Castle and Cooke Hawaii.
“Mr. Carleton is probably a very nice man. This is not personal against him or the governor,” said Marjorie Ziegler with Conservation Council for Hawaii. “It’s just, we need to move forward in some of the progress we made in the last four years with regard to watershed, invasive species, community fishing. I think we need a more experienced, engaged director of the department.”
According to the organizations, the issues in question include endangered species, iwi, ceded land, water resources, forests, beaches, coral reefs, fishing and hunting resources, historic sites, and state parks.
“The Department of Land and Natural Resources is tasked with protecting our natural resources, and Mr. Carlton Ching has not been involved in any of the sorts of activities the DLNR is tasked with managing,” Aalto added.
Despite the public opposition, Ige remains steadfast in his support for Ching.
“I like Carleton’s heart. I know he understands. If he was fortunate enough to get confirmed by the Senate, that he understands that he works for the people of Hawaii. He’s a great leader, a good business mind. We’ve had other directors at DLNR who came from the business sector who did a great job there, Bill Paty, Tim Johns, amongst others. I’m confident he’s the right person for the job,” he said.
“I trust my former colleagues will do their job in fairly listening to the information provided, I’m certain that they’ll give Carleton a fair hearing, and he’ll have the opportunity to talk about why he wants to commit to public service and serve the people of Hawaii,” Ige added.
Former DLNR chair William Aila moved to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to serve as deputy for director Jobie Masagatani.