Kennedy Visits Aftermath of Lahaina Wildfire, Sees First-Hand Worst Example of Government Inefficiency, Corruption

LOS ANGELES, CA—FEB. 14, 2024—Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. today released a poignant video documenting his visit to Lahaina, where he went to see firsthand the devastation from the wildfire that destroyed the historic town on the island of Maui, Hawaii, six months ago. 

“I visited Lahaina last month and saw the tragic reality up close: the Maui wildfire’s cascading environmental impacts and toxic aftermath will likely last for years,” Kennedy said. “Hazardous debris, chemicals, and undrinkable water plagues the town. The government’s mismanagement of the poisonous material cleanup is wreaking havoc on Lahaina’s residents, farmland, and groundwater, and risks poisoning the local reef.”

Kennedy surveyed the site of last summer’s wildfire — the deadliest in modern U.S. history, killing 100 people — with two long-time residents who had a lot to say regarding the federal government's response to this tragedy.

Eddy Garcia, a regenerative farmer in Maui, took Kennedy to ground zero to see the burned-out homes, automobiles, appliances, PVC pipes, and other debris. He explained how the fire was an inferno that quickly burned through the town. The government, he says, is doing nothing to stop the PCBs, furan, and dioxins from leaching from the half-burned PVC pipes and AC units into the soil and water.

Garcia echoed a sentiment that Kennedy hears across the country: “You’re going to give billions to other countries but squabble over a few million to help a town that lost everything?”

Garcia then pointed out 300,000 gallons of fresh water from a local spring that had been captured in an underground parking garage six months ago. He said the only solution the government has to offer for this contaminated water is to pump it into the ocean.

Kennedy next met local homeowner and artist Janet Spriter, who lost everything in the fire. She showed him the ruins of her property, telling him that “nothing” had changed since the day of the fire. 

“This unprecedented disaster has diminished everybody in our country because Lahaina was such a jewel,” Kennedy said. “I used to come to this town and it was such a magical spot in the world. It was unique — the roots, the history, and the culture of these extraordinary islands and extraordinary people. It was all taken away because of mismanagement, and because of corporate control of the landscapes by the big agricultural industry that rerouted the water and dried up this lush, verdant area.”

Wildfire experts have said that an underlying cause of the Lahaina fire was the legacy of land clearing by big agricultural interests that took place over the last two centuries. The transformation of native Hawaiian ecosystems to non-native grasslands made the land much more susceptible to wildfires.

“That original merger of state and corporate power and the injury that came from it is now being compounded by the response, which is short-sighted and money-driven,” Kennedy said. “They are going to take the waste and they are going to do something with it that is going to ensure the poisoning of the reef. It’s just the worst example of government inefficiency and ultimately corruption.”

As president, Kennedy will implement comprehensive federal wildfire management policies and support robust wildfire and emergency-response policies in communities at risk.

Kennedy’s wildfire management policies will:

  • stop big corporate interests from abusing landscapes and making them more susceptible to fire
  • unravel corporate capture in the five federal agencies responsible for wildland fire management — USDA's Forest Service, Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service
  • restore and regenerate degraded lands
  • maintain ecologically healthy, resilient, and fire-resistant forests and grasslands
  • protect the nation’s remaining old-growth forests and revamp forest management
  • keep combustible materials at manageable levels using controlled burns and other methods
  • utilize fuel breaks and manage potential wildfire fuels in wildland-urban interfaces (places where homes and infrastructure come into contact with wildlands)
  • create community fire resilience zones in at-risk urban areas 
  • clean up toxic chemicals released by materials burned in urban fires
  • establish better wildfire emergency response protocols
  • provide more support for wildfire victims

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