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  • Rep. Barbara Marumoto Releases a Short Opinion Editorial on SuperFerry

Representative Barbara Marumoto (R) District 19
Office 808-586-6310 Fax 808-586-6311 Cell 808-228-1438

August 23, 2007
Contact: Michele Van Hessen
House Minority Research: 586-7033

Representative Barbara Marumoto

The SuperFerry will help Hawaii families and Hawaii's small farms and businesses. Tourists with only a few days in Hawaii and no cars are not likely to use the ferry. I strongly support fixing the EIS law because of recent changes made by the Supreme Court.

Since its inception, Ch. 343 HRS requires an environmental assessment (EA), and perhaps an environmental impact statement (EIS) depending on the EA determination for ALL state AND county CIP projects, private projects on state or county land, or projects that require some state or county action. No problem there; we have all learned to live with EAs and EISs.

Using the existing law and exemption, the Department of Transportation Harbors Division (DOT) determined that the $40 M harbor improvements did not require an EA and proceeded with the changes appropriated by the Legislature. The DOT did not concern itself with the ferry, a private project, which is licensed and under the jurisdiction of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) motor carrier law.

The Supreme Court changed the ground rules by opining that government must examine the "secondary impacts" of projects, and that the DOT should have considered even secondary cultural and financial impacts of the ferry in addition to environmental concerns such as spreading invasive species, colliding with whales, etc. The Supreme Court had the case for 15 months but decided this on the eve before the ferry was to set sail!

The impact of this decision goes far beyond the ferry issue. It means all future state and county projects, private projects on state or county land and projects requiring certain state or county action (there might be a few exemptions) must have an EA at the minimum. This will cost everyone much more time and money - low-income housing projects, schools, grants-in-aid, dams and reservoirs, shoreline development, etc.

We need to go into special session to fix the ferry situation and to fix Ch 343 or, at the minimum, put off the fix on Ch 343 during the '08 session.

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