POSTED: 3 APRIL 2007 - 8:30am HST

EIS Appeal Still Pending in Lawsuit

by Isaac Moriwake on 31 March 2007 in The Honolulu Advertiser

Your headline that the Superferry is "cleared" for launch (March 29) needs a big asterisk.

This applies only to the bill that Rep. Joe Souki killed by refusing even to schedule a hearing. It does not apply to the lawsuit on appeal to the Hawai'i Supreme Court challenging the state Department of Transportation's exemption of the Superferry from the state environmental impact statement

That appeal has been pending for several years, and it's only a matter of time until the court issues a definitive ruling.

The state Environmental Council, the agency that implements the EIS law, recently ruled that the DOT wrongly exempted the Superferry by focusing only
on piecemeal harbor improvements, instead of the whole Superferry project and all its potential impacts.

It's the same old story: A developer twists every which way to evade the EIS law, when in the end, it would have been so much easier and quicker simply to go through the required process and address the public's concerns.

Should the Hawai'i Supreme Court rule that state funding and harbor
improvements for the Superferry triggers environmental review, no one should
be surprised - especially the state administration and the Superferry.

Isaac Moriwake
Attorney, Earthjustice, Hawaii
223 South King Street, Suite 400
Honolulu, HI 96813
phone: (808) 599-2436



POSTED: 29 MARCH 2007 - 2:00pm HST

HI Rep Souki clears way for Superferry

Theater Support Vessel "Spearhead" at Pearl Harbor, conducting demonstration for military leaders.
If you thought the Superferry was bad for whales check out this 300 foot, over 45mph meat slicer.

Souki again sinks Superferry EIS
[Editor's Note: We must remember that 3 out of 4 of the county councils
overwhelmingly passed resolutions asking the State to require an HSF EIS. It was not a few "environmental whackos"; it was the elected leadership of three counties. Kauai - Council unanimous in favor of requiring an EIS. Maui - Council unanimous in favor of requiring an EIS.  Big Island - Council (8-1) in favor of requiring an EIS.Souki again sinks Superferry EIS. Note: the Maui News article refers to SB 702; it should be SB 1276.]

by Edwin Tanji on 30 March 2007 in The Maui News
Maui Rep. Joe Souki has blocked a second bill in the 2007 Legislature that would have required an environmental impact statement on the Hawaii Superferry, repeating his argument that it’s unfair to pick on a single harbor user.

Souki, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, refused to schedule Senate Bill 702 for a hearing by the committee, effectively killing the bill. It would be wasteful since the state already will prepare an impact statement on the Kahului Harbor 2030 master plan, he said.

“Inasmuch as there will be a new EIS for the whole harbor, it’s wasteful, expensive. You cannot justify doing an EIS after the fact for one thing that’s using the harbor,” he said.

He acknowledged that SB 702 approved by the Senate would not have blocked the Superferry. But he objected to requiring the state Harbors Division to prepare an impact statement and respond to any impacts that may be determined by the study.

“The Senate bill is flawed. The Senate bill still requires an EIS only for the ferry, one user at the harbor. The condition is so unfair.

“Young Brothers just brought in that big new barge and it’s going to be shipping cars from county to county, but there’s no inspection. Nobody is going to be inspecting all those cars and all that cargo that’s coming in on the barge, on Matson, on all the ships,” he said.

“It’s very unfair to pick on one business and make it responsible.”
Souki previously had refused to hear a House bill requiring an impact statement on the Superferry, but the Senate approved the amended version that was supported by Maui Sen. Shan Tsutsui – whose 4th Senate District (Wailuku-Kahului) includes the 8th House District that Souki represents.

Tsutsui said Thursday that he was “very disappointed” that Souki again blocked the demand for an impact statement on the Superferry operations, but he saw no options in the Legislature. In last year’s legislative session, Tsutsui pushed through a requirement for the state Department of Transportation to hold a series of public meetings to provide information on how the state and the Superferry would deal with harbor concerns, including traffic congestion on highways around the harbors and the impact on cargo operations being squeezed from loss of dock space.

“I was hoping it would move forward. Obviously, we watered down the bill and compromised quite a bit just to get something that we hoped we could get into conference committee to discuss. It’s unfortunate he’s decided he’s not going to hear it,” Tsutsui said. “At this point, if the House is not going to hear the bill, we’re going to turn our attention to what we can accomplish with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Agriculture to refocus on the concerns raised by people over the problems that may occur.”

A Maui opponent of the Superferry, retired Maui Community College economics and geography professor Dick Mayer, said he is “very disturbed” at Souki’s arguments, noting that none of the other harbor users are getting a $40 million subsidy from the state to implement their operations.

The Superferry is assured the state will provide up to $40 million to provide docking barges and other improvements to allow its operations, while the federal government is providing a $140 million loan guarantee for the interisland ferry project.

In contrast, Matson Navigation paid for its own improvements at Kahului Harbor when it extended Pier 1 to provide adequate dock space for its ships.

“The argument that the Superferry should not be singled out is not relevant because the other companies using the harbor did not get state funding,” Mayer said. “The cruise ships did not have the state give them huge amounts of money. If anything, they pay the state, with their user fees that’s going to pay for the Superferry’s barges.

“That’s what I’m upset about, when the environmental impact law is just wiped away and the state is putting up so much public money.”

Mayer said there is no evidence of wrongdoing, but he would question the fact that individuals associated with the Hawaii Superferry, including company President John Garibaldi, made significant contributions to Gov. Linda Lingle’s campaign, to Souki and to House Speaker Calvin Say.

“There is no way to prove that it’s to influence the state officials, but there is an appearance of use of campaign contributions by Hawaii Superferry to obtain favors from elected officials,” he said.

He said records show that Souki’s campaign committee received $1,000 from a Superferry official, Say received $2,000 and the Lingle/Aiona campaign received $26,000 from various executives connected to the Superferry, including $3,000 each from Hawaii Superferry Chairman John Lehman and Vice Chairman Tig Krekel.

Mayer noted too that recent stories in The Maui News show that the decisions being made by the Department of Transportation in 2004 were by then-Deputy Director Barry Fukunaga, who was reporting directly to Lingle. The state signed a memorandum of agreement to move forward on the Superferry in late 2004.

At a public meeting on Maui, Fukunaga – now nominated to head the Transportation Department – indicated that the barges constructed to accommodate the Superferry at Kahului, Honolulu and Nawiliwili on Kauai would not belong to the state if the Superferry fails, even though the state is paying to have them built.

“The way Fukunaga said it, the federal government would end up with the barges because they’re a backup to the loan. But since we don’t have access to the memorandum of agreement, we don’t know what the state has promised,” Mayer said.

Souki said his position on the ferry is based on his belief there is strong public support and that the Kahului Harbor EIS will deal with any issues related to the Superferry and all other harbor users.

“It’s going to be very comprehensive and it’s going to cover much more than just the Superferry,” he said. He added that other House leaders support his decision to bar a hearing on SB 702.

“Shan and I are very good friends. But we have taken different positions on this. I’ve discussed it with him, and I think he understands that this is a House position. It is the House leadership and not just me.

“The House position is that it’s too late for the state to do an EIS just for the ferry.”

[Editor's Note: As you read this story, please remember that Rep. Joe Souki and House Speaker Calvin Say each received 2006 campaign contributions from the Hawaii Superferry Inc. and on the same day (January 24, 2006)]

Superferry's summer launch cleared
by Derrick DePledge, 29 March 2007 in The Honolulu Advertiser

Hoping to end any anxiety about the summer launch of the interisland Hawai'i Superferry, lawmakers killed a bill that would have forced the state to perform an environmental review of the ferry service's impact on harbors.

"It is not fair to single out the Hawai'i Superferry and require them" to do an environmental impact statement, said state Rep. Joseph Souki, D-8th (Wailuku, Waihe'e, Waiehu), chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Souki said in a commentary to The Advertiser that he has decided not go forward with the bill, a move he said essentially gives the Superferry a green light to start operations in July.

"It is not fair to require an EIS now, at the eleventh hour, when the (Department of Transportation) told the Superferry from the start that one was not required," Souki said. "This sends a terrible message about doing business in Hawai'i."
The bill, which was passed by the Senate, technically died Friday after it failed to meet a procedural deadline. But since lawmakers have discretion to move legislation right up until the end of session, it was not confirmed until the statement by Souki.

Neighbor Island senators who wanted an environmental impact statement on the Superferry were disappointed, along with environmentalists who have unsuccessfully tried to force a review through the courts. The senators had argued that a review could take place even as the Superferry launched service between O'ahu, Maui and Kaua'i in July. A Big Island route is planned for 2009.
But the Transportation Department and Superferry developers opposed the bill, claiming it was possible an environmental review would have interfered with the launch.

The Transportation Department had ruled that the Superferry qualified for an exception from an environmental review and maintained that other harbor users, such as Matson and Young Brothers, were not subject to reviews when expanding operations.

"We hope that a better understanding of Hawai'i Superferry and how it will benefit the people of Hawai'i has reassured many of our elected officials," John Garibaldi, chief executive officer of Hawai'i Superferry, said in a statement yesterday. "Over the past nine months, we participated in 22 public informational meetings throughout the state with the Department of Transportation and will continue our efforts to educate and inform everyone about Hawai'i Superferry.

"We are looking forward to the arrival of our first vessel and the start of service in July."

Souki's position was widely known inside the state Capitol, but lawmakers who wanted an environmental review hoped public pressure might change the political climate.

The Environmental Council, which advises the state on environmental issues, came out with an opinion in February that the Department of Transportation failed to consider the cumulative effect of the Superferry when it ruled an impact study was not needed. Some thought the council's opinion, combined with the concerns from county councils on the Neighbor Islands, might be enough to advance the bill.

Environmentalists have claimed that the Superferry will have an impact on harbor traffic, invasive species and humpback whales that should be measured by an environmental review.

"Hopefully, we can minimize the impact by trying to address some of these issues in other ways," said state Sen. Shan Tsutsui, D-4th (Kahului), who said lawmakers would continue to encourage the Transportation Department to pressure Superferry to respond to the concerns.

State Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser, D-7th (Kaua'i, Ni'ihau), said Neighbor Island senators had pushed for the bill because they were responding to their communities and they believed it was the right thing to do.

"Somehow, I don't believe this whole thing is over with," Hooser said.

State House Speaker Calvin Say, D-20th (St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Wilhelmina Rise), and other House leaders had questioned the logic of forcing an environmental review after the state has already agreed to spend $40 million on harbor improvements to help Superferry. House leaders said, however, that it was left up to Souki, as the chairman of the committee that oversees transportation, to determine whether to hold a hearing.

Isaac Moriwake, an attorney with Earthjustice, called Souki's decision undemocratic.

"I think it's very regrettable that one person can hold up this expression of a groundswell of public opinion," he said.

Souki, in his commentary, said the issue was fairness.

"There are other companies that use our harbors, travel in our waters, and essentially impact the state in the same manner," Souki wrote. "Some carry only passengers, some only cargo such as cars, and some carry produce and other products, including cattle, nursery plants, and other animal and plant life that have the potential of carrying invasive species.

"Some of these companies have been doing business throughout the Islands for close to a century. However, not one of them was required to do an EIS under existing law."

The Superferry plans to begin service between O'ahu and Maui and O'ahu and Kaua'i in July.

The cost of a one-way passenger ticket will be $60 on peak days (Friday to Monday) and $50 on off-peak days (Tuesday to Thursday), according to the company's Web site, hawaiisuper The cost for a car or sport utility vehicle will be $65 peak and $55 off peak. Travel between O'ahu and Kaua'i and O'ahu and Maui will take about three hours.

see also
Island Breath: Still No Superferry EIS 3/31/2007
Island Breath: Superferry EIS Effort 3/25/2007
Island Breath: Superferry EIS Bill hearings 2/26/2007
Island Breath: Superferry Promotion 2/24/2007
Island Breath: Superferry Launched 1/28/2007
Island Breath: Superferry in Trouble
Island Breath: Superferry Reference
Island Breath: Superferry Resistance
Island Breath: Superferry & Military
Island Breath: Superferry History
Island Breath: Stop the Superferry
Island Breath: Superferry Meetings
Island Breath: Superferry Redux
Island Breath: Superferry Problems