POSTED: 23 SEPTEMBER 2007 -  8:00am HST

Superferry loan guarantees threatened

image above: Administrator Sean T. Connaughton of MARAD, part of the federal DOT

Request federal EA & Revocation of MAR-CATEX
by Hope Kallai of Malama Moloaa on 21 September 2007

[Editor's Note: The following is the text of a letter we received that is seeking to overturn the federal Maritime Administration (MARAD) Categorical Exclusion of environmental study based on the incorrect determination by HDOT's director Barry Fukunaga that there would be no necessary EA required for the Hawaii Superferry to begin operations. For a PDF of the MARAD paperwork on this click here.]

Wayne Nastri
Region 9 Administrator
U.S. EPA Region 9
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105

RE: Request for MAR Categorical Exclusion Revocation
Request for Environmental Assessment
Hawaii High Speed Ferry

Aloha Mr. Nastri:

The Hawaii High Speed Ferry Corporation, also known as Hawaii Superferry (HSF), is daily proposing new interisland service for passengers and vehicles from Oahu to Nawiliwili Harbor, Kaua`i, Hawai`i beginning September 26, 2007. It is a “Major Federal Action” pursuant to 40CFR 1508.18(a) because 78.5% of the project has been funded with Title XI loan guarantees of$143.6 million, partly funded, assisted and approved by U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD).

MARAD, in granting a Categorical Exclusion MAO600-1 (1) and (7), said:

Based on the information available at that time, there appeared to have been very little, if any, NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act of 1969) or state environmental work performed related to the proposed ferry service that would be adequate for MARAD’s responsibilities under NEPA.

MAR-820 recommends that the loan guarantee contract contain the requirement that Hawaiian High Speed Ferry (HSF) Corporation comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations.

The categorical exclusion was based on the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation issuance of a categorical exemption. This has recently been overturned by the Hawai`i Supreme Court. Hawai`i’revocation of the exemption would invalidate MARAD’s categorical exclusion. We are hereby requesting immediate an environmental assessment by the EPA of all applicable environmental laws and regulations and potential impacts of the HSF.

Adequate environmental review has not been made available concerning impacts to threatened, endangered and migratory species, coastal zone and critically sensitive habitats by this new mode of high-speed inter-island travel.

Nawiliwili Harbor is located in Nawiliwili Bay, in the town of Lihue, Kauai. Nawiliwili Bay is the estuary for the Hule`ia River. In 1973, the Hule`ia National Wildlife Refuge was purchased to protect sensitive habitat for an assemblage of critically endangered waterbirds. Many other threatened, endangered and migratory species are found in the area and in the air and waters of Kaua`i. Many migratory birds and seabirds are to be found in the Kauai channel between Kauai and Oahu. Many species of marine mammals and sea turtles are found in Hawaiian waters.

Operation of the Hawaii Superferry in the Kaua` i area has potential to significantly impact any or all of the following endangered species:

`Alae ula - Hawaiian moor hen - Gallinulachloropus sanvicensis
`Alae ke`oke`o - Hawaiian coot - Fulica alai
`Ae`o - Hawaiian stilt - Himantopusmexicanus knudseni
Koloa maoli - Hawaiian duck - Anas wyvilliana
Nene - Hawaiian goose - Branta sandvicensi


Short-tailed albatross - Phobias

Hawaiian monk seal - Monachus schauinslandi
Humpback whale - Megapteranova eangliae
Sperm whale - Physeterma crocephalus
Blue whale - Balaenoptera musculus
Fin whale - Balaenoptera physalus
Sei whale - Balaenoptera borealis
North Pacific - rightwhale - Eubalaena japonica

Olive ridley turtle - Lepidochelys olivacea
Leatherback turtle - Dermochelys coriacea
Loggerhead turtle - Caretta caretta
Hawksbill turtle - Eretmochelys imbricata

Honu Greenturtle - Cheloniamydas

Any and all potential impacts to federally listed endangered species must be considered and mitigated. Mitigation alternatives might be as simple as route selection, speed or light shielding.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918, as amended (16 USC 703-712), prohibits the take of migratory birds. Unless permitted by regulations, under the MBTA it is unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture or kill; attempt to take, capture or kill listed species. The following birds are covered under the Migratory Bird treaty Act:

Eurasian Skylark - Alauda arvensis
House Finch - Carpodacus mexicanus
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis
Kolea Pacific Golden Plover - Pluvialis fulva
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - Oceanodroma castro
White-tailed Tropicbird - Phaethon lepturus
Wandering Tattler - Heteroscelus incanus
Bristle-thighed Curlew - Numenius tahitiensis
Pueo Hawaiian Shorteared Owl - Asio flammeus sandwichensis

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires careful consideration of all environmental effects of proposed actions to endangered species.

Immediate intervention is needed from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect these NEPA resources.The State of Hawai`i is planning to allow operational actions which may result in incidental take, capture or injury of federally listed endangered species, without consideration of alternatives.

Environmentally important natural resource areas such as flood plains, wetlands, and the coastal zone could be altered and damaged.

The project could potentially have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment, individually and cumulatively over time and have significant cultural impacts and impacts on traditional gathering rights.

We are requesting formal consultation and immediate revocation of the MARAD Categorical Exclusion (CATEX) and the immediate preparation of an Environmental Assessment.

Mahalo nui loa for your rapid response to this matter.


Hope Kallai
Malama Moloa`a
POB 655
Kilauea, HI