POSTED: 25 MARCH 2007 - 10:00am HST

Superferry skeptics not satisfied

Hawaii Superferry Director of Business Development Terry O'Halloran

by Erin Miller on 21 March 2007 in West Hawaii Today

Community members at an informational meeting Tuesday about the Hawaii Superferry came seeking answers to questions they've voiced before: How will the ships successfully avoid whales, and how will the impact of increased traffic on Big Island roads be mitigated?

Several area residents wanted to know how the company's whale avoidance measures, which include two crew members working as lookouts during whale season, would find whales under water.

"Whales do not have a Superferry avoidance policy," resident Jeff Sacher said.
Hawaii Superferry Director of Business Development Terry O'Halloran said the ship's captains will be instructed to change course if necessary to avoid whales. But, he added, no vessel traveling waters around Hawaii can detect underwater whales, because such technology doesn't yet exist.

O'Halloran did not give a specific response to a question repeated several times asking if the company's business plan allowed for a certain amount of fines to be imposed for whale strikes, except to reiterate the avoidance measures, which also include a route change during whale season.

Sheryl Iona, a Kawaihae resident, said she and fellow community members were concerned about traffic on the community's roads. She asked if the state or the Superferry had any plans to subsidize road improvements as the increased traffic wore down the region's roads.

Marshall Ando, DOT harbors design engineer, said he couldn't answer questions about roads, but said he would direct the question to the right people in the transportation department.

What didn't come up at the meeting at Kealakehe Intermediate School were questions about an attempt to require Hawaii Superferry to complete an environmental impact statement, even as the first ferry undergoes sea trials.

O'Halloran and John Garibaldi, president and CEO of Hawaii Superferry, said in an interview prior to the meeting that the company had completed all the environmental assessments asked of it, and noted that groups asking for an EIS have been unsuccessful in court.

"We've followed the rules, gone through the process," O'Halloran said. "In terms of motivations of others (in seeking the EIS), I think you're going to have to ask others."

The company is working to help Kahului Harbor on Maui complete environmental assessments for a master plan that runs through 2030, and will support the state when a similar plan is drafted for the Big Island, O'Halloran said.

But Garibaldi doesn't believe the Superferry needs the EIS being sought by some Hawaii legislators. Despite a change of wording in the Senate bill, Garibaldi said the legislation could effectively stop the ferry before its July launch date.

"We're simply using the harbor for the intended purpose," Garibaldi said.



POSTED: 15 MARCH 2007 - 10:00pm HST

This is crunch time to get an EIS!!

Hawaii legislative representative Joe Souki congratulates Robert Lau, a local national chess champ

by Dick Mayer on 15 March 2007

We've just learned that Rep. Joseph Souki must schedule a Transportation Committee hearing before close of business Friday, March 16, if the bill is to make it.

Please phone and fax Rep. Souki and politely and firmly ask that he hold a hearing on SB 1276 to require an EIS for harbor improvements. There is no need to mention the Superferry.

The message can be short and sweet; no insults.

Your County Council passed a unanimous resolution asking for an EIS. Rep. Souki should honor their request.

Calls may be made to:
Kauai Free call 274-3141 ext. 69-444
Kauai Free fax 274-3141 ext. 69-499

Big Island Free call 974-4000 ext. 69-444;
Big Island Free fax 974-4000 ext. 69-499

Rep. Joseph "Joe" Souki
8th Representative District (Wailuku, Maui)
phone: 808-586-9444; fax 808-586-9499



POSTED: 9 MARCH 2007 - 2:00pm HST

Revised bill could delay Superferry

HSF Chairman John Lehman (Left) has second thoughts about HSF CEO John Garibaldi (Right)

Impact statement clouds start of Superferry
by Richard Borreca on 9 March 2007 in The Honolulu Star-Bulletin

First hailed as a compromise on the controversial Hawaii Superferry, a bill that passed the Senate is now being called "problematic" by ferry officials.

And if it becomes law, they said, the interisland service cannot start this summer.
Senate Bill 1276 went through three revisions in the Senate. As first written, the bill stopped the ferry service from running until an environmental impact statement was conducted and any resulting problems were resolved.

Legislators amended it to remove the prohibition on starting service until all problems were corrected, but left in a phrase calling for the EIS to be done.

Superferry Chief Executive Officer John Garibaldi said yesterday that the new bill still stops the service.

"If this stays in its current form, it would have a high likelihood of deferring service," Garibaldi said.

Supporters of the bill, however, said the compromise means the ferry can run while the study is being conducted.

"Our attorneys believe that the Superferry can start their operations. It was clear what the Senate intent was," Sen. Gary Hooser (D, Kauai) said.

Hooser said Senate leaders were not trying to mislead the public or Superferry officials.

"We believe the compromise amendments would allow the Superferry to operate," he said.

At issue is the phrase "a condition precedent," which is written in the bill in relation to an EIS to be performed "as a condition precedent to the implementation of the proposed action."

Hooser said that means the EIS is to be performed before any improvements are made to state harbors that service the ferry.

But attorneys for the Superferry said "a condition precedent" means that the Superferry could not begin operations until the EIS process is complete.

The only Democrat to vote against the Superferry bill yesterday in the Senate was former Senate President Robert Bunda, who said the objections to the private ferry were "based on politics."

"Singling out the Superferry for special impact statements is not the right thing to do," Bunda said.

Republicans also objected to the bill. Sen. Sam Slom said the Superferry has "jumped through hoops" to comply with legislative criticism.

"This is an example of private risk capital putting itself forward, and we should be
embracing that instead of trying to stop it," Slom (R, Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai) said.

The state has put in $40 million in state harbor improvements to accommodate the ferry. State officials hope to get back the investment in harbor fees charged to the ferry.

During the debate on the Senate floor, Hooser said the bill would affect the Superferry.

"Yes, it will impact the Hawaii Superferry -- there is no question of that -- but it will not impede their business or prevent them from starting in July," Hooser said.Issue of impact statement clouds start of Superferry The Hawaii Superferry will not be able to operate this summer if a Senate bill calling for an environmental impact statement becomes law, according to ferry officials.

Although Senate leaders described the bill as a "compromise" that would ensure the ferry could start service as planned on July 1, Superferry Chief Executive Officer John Garibaldi says the bill makes the ferry a no-go.

"As we read the actual bill, it is a problematic condition," Garibaldi said.

The Senate passed the bill and sent it to the House yesterday. House leaders said they have not decided whether to act on the bill.

HFS CEO John Garibaldi



POSTED: 7 MARCH 2007 - 12:00pm HST

EIS study will not delay Superferry

derived from a cartoon by Adam Zyglis for The Buffalo News

Legal Waters
by Derrick DePledge on 7 March 2007 in The Honolulu Advertiser   

ISSUE: Neighbor Island state senators and many environmentalists wanted the state Department of Transportation to prepare an environmental impact statement on the influence of Hawai'i Superferry on harbors.

HISTORY: State ruled that harbor improvements for the Superferry are minor and do not warrant a review. That decision has been upheld in court but is on appeal. A separate lawsuit challenges whether the state adequately considered the Superferry in its 2025 master plan for Kahului Harbor on Maui.

The Senate amended a bill yesterday to require the state to pay for and conduct a review of the Superferry. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill tomorrow. Approval would send it to the House, where key lawmakers oppose the plan

The Hawai'i Superferry would be able to launch in July as planned while the state conducts an environmental study on its potential effect on state harbors, under a compromise agreed to by the state Senate yesterday.

Neighbor Island senators backed off a demand that the Superferry conduct an environmental impact statement even if it delayed the July launch.

"It was political reality. We have to come up with something that everyone can live with," said state Sen. Shan Tsutsui, D-4th (Kahului).

The state Department of Transportation would pay for the review, instead of the Superferry's developers, as part of the compromise amendments.

The amendments were necessary to guarantee Senate passage and keep the discussion of an environmental study alive in the state House, where a similar bill failed earlier this session, Tsutsui said. The Senate adopted the amendments yesterday and set the bill for a vote tomorrow. 

Approval would send the bill to the House.

Superferry developers and the state Department of Transportation yesterday said again that an environmental impact statement is not warranted.

The department has held that the project has led to only minor changes at state harbors that do not trigger a review. A legal challenge to the state's decision has not been successful, although an appeal is pending with the Hawai'i Supreme Court.

"We've always felt that you cannot require one private company or entity to do an EIS, and not require that for others," said Scott Ishikawa, a Transportation Department spokesman.

Other interisland transportation companies, such as Young Brothers, did not have to do an environmental review.

Terry O'Halloran, director of business development for the Superferry, repeated that developers have taken precautions to minimize vehicle traffic at harbors the ferry would serve, to control the spread of invasive species and avoid collisions with humpback whales.

O'Halloran said the Superferry is included along with other harbor users in the state's environmental review of the 2030 master plan for Kahului Harbor. He said these kinds of reviews are more appropriate because they do not single out a specific harbor user for scrutiny. 

Environmentalists and Maui County have sued the state for not adequately taking the Superferry into consideration in its 2025 master plan for Kahului Harbor in a case now before a Circuit Court judge.

The ferry is scheduled to debut in July with service between O'ahu, Maui and Kaua'i. A link to the Big Island is expected in 2009.

Superferry developers have hired three of the state's pre-eminent lobbyists - George "Red" Morris, John Radcliffe and Bob Toyofuku - to help kill the environmental impact statement bill. The developers also started an e-mail and media campaign urging people to contact lawmakers.

The Neighbor Island senators had said they would use every tactic available to force the review.

State Sen. J. Kalani English, D-6th (E. Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i), the chairman of the Senate Transportation and International Affairs Committee, said the amended bill would still accomplish what the senators have wanted all along, which is the review.

English said the senators want to correct what they believe was an error by the Department of Transportation. The state Environment Council, in a largely symbolic opinion last month, found that the department did not consider the cumulative impact of ferry service when it granted the project an exemption from the environmental impact law.

"We feel that they (the Transportation Department) made a mistake. They erred by granting the exemption," English said.

The bill would require the department to address any negative findings from its review and make necessary changes to its operating agreement with Superferry.

The state attorney general's office has warned lawmakers that the state may get sued by Superferry developers if an environmental review delays the project. State Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Kahala, Hawai'i Kai), said the bill would likely invite lawsuits and not make any difference to the environmental activists who oppose the project.

"This basically is just a shift in strategy in terms of trying to delay this project," Slom said.

House Democratic leaders said yesterday that if the bill crosses over tomorrow, its future likely will rest with state Rep. Joe Souki, D-8th (Wailuku, Waihe'e, Waiheu), the chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Souki has said he would not hear the bill but the senators are hoping public pressure might thange his mind.

House Speaker Calvin Say, D-20th (St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Wilhelmina Rise), said he believes in giving committee chairmen discretion over their subject matters. He also said the state already has committed $40 million for harbor improvements for the Superferry.

"I personally think we should stay the course and see what happens," Say said. John Harrison, the former environmental coordinator at the University of Hawai'i Environmental Center, said an environmental review is a planning tool that the state should have required early in the process to identify the impact of ferry service on the Islands. He believes it might be too late for the state to place meaningful constraints on the Superferry.

"It's truly an unfortunate situation and we're all losers as a consequence," Harrison said.




POSTED: 24 FEBRUARY 2007 - 9:30am HST
Environmental Council: "HSF EIS exemption wrong"

We've added biological and radioactive hazard symbols to HFC H4 promotional graphics

State Environmental Council issues opinion:
Superferry Exemption from EIS is Wrong

by Ron Sturtz on 23 February 2007 for Maui Tomorrow Foundation

Honolulu: The State Environmental Council, the advisory commission to the Office of Environmental Quality Control (O.E.Q.C), issued an Opinion on Thursday that “the State Department of Transportation (DOT) erred when it granted to the Hawaii Superferry an exemption from the requirement to do an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).”

The Environmental Council was created by the State legislature to provide direction to the OEQC concerning the EIS process. On Thursday, the Council clearly stepped forward to exert its authority.

In a 9:1 vote, with one abstention, the Council stated that the exemption granted by the DOT failed to take into consideration the cumulative and secondary environmental impacts of the Hawaii Superferry (HSF) project.

In response to a letter from Senator Majority Leader Gary Hooser, D-7th (Kaua`i, Ni`ihau) asking the Council to rule on the matter, the 11 member board met Thursday, in Honolulu, to consider the request. Present at the meeting were HDOT State Deputy Attorney General Bill Wynoff; HSF attorney Lisa Woods Munger; Isaac Davis Hall, representing Maui Tomorrow Foundation Inc., the Kahului Harbor Colalition; and Isaac Moriwake, of Earth Justice Foundation . The HSF, Maui Tomorrow, and Earth Justice all submitted legal briefs to the Council; attorneys Munger, Hall, and Moriwake presented oral testimony.

Taking part in the hearing as witnesses, were also former Maui Planning Commission member Dick Mayer, Rob Parsons – the Environmental Coordinator for the County of Maui under the Arakawa administration, Henry Curtis and Kat Brady from Honolulu-based Life of the Land, John Harrison from the University of Hawaii Environmental Center, and Senator Gary Hooser, who led off the hearing.

At issue was an exemption granted by the HDOT in 2005, stating that the Hawaii Superferry did not have to comply with the State’s environmental laws relating to Environmental Impact Statements. The HDOT based this exemption on their position that proposed impacts to the harbors were minor. The Environmental Council strongly disagrees.

In a lively discussion among Council members, there was a consensus that this case is a most blatant example of flagrant disregard of the State’s environmental laws in recent memory. In the words of Earth Justice attorney Isaac Moriwake, “the DOT did violence to the State’s environmental statute HRS 343 and undermined the intention and spirit of the law.”

In the view of the Council, the HRS 343 requires that “the HDOT look at the cumulative and secondary impacts of actions that occur repeatedly and over a long period of time.” The combined impact of 882 people and hundreds of vehicles landing on each island daily, and over a period of years, necessitates close public scrutiny through the investigative process of an EIS, that incorporates broad public input and accurately describes potential mitigation measures.

Not insignificant was testimony that the HDOT had set precedent by doing its own 561 page EIS for the Oahu Intraisland Ferry System in 1989, for a project with far less environmental impacts.

Throughout the hearing, the Council’s legal counsel and the HSF legal counsel argued to defer a ruling, and questioned the Council’s legal ability to take any action. The Council, however, saw this issue as an exact area in which their interpretation was sanctioned, and felt that the Courts and the public could well benefit from the Council’s own interpretation of their rules. They chose to assert their legal authority by voting to issue an opinion in the form of a letter of response to Senator Hooser.

The legal implications of the Opinion will soon unfold. Legislation is before both the House and the Senate in companion bills, calling for an EIS requirement for the Superferry. Legal proceedings continue in the Circuit Court and the Supreme Court that could be impacted by this Council Opinion.

This Opinion lends support to the perspectives of the County Councils of Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai, and many others who have been calling for an EIS on the HSF for more than two years.

Contact Information:
Maui Tomorrow Foundation, Inc.
Ron Sturtz, President
phone: 808 891-0425 (Maui)

"Third Round"
DOT / Superferry Meetings Schedule

Public meetings on all affected islands coming up
Tuesday, March 6, 2007 at 6 pm at Wailuku Community Center

Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 6 pm at Puuhale Elementary School

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 6 pm at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 6 pm at Kealakehe Intermediate School


see also
Island Breath: Superferry Promotion
Island Breath: Superferry EIS Bill hearings
IIsland Breath: EIS Bill in House
Island Breath: Superferry Launched
Island Breath: Superferry Reference
Island Breath: Superferry in Trouble
Island Breath: Superferry Resistance
Island Breath: Superferry & Military
Island Breath: Superferry History
Island Breath: Superferry Meetings
Island Breath: Superferry Redux
Island Breath: Superferry Problems
Island Breath: Stop the Superferry