Thursday, September 6, 2007

Rep. Souki weighs in on Superferry debate

Rep. Joe Souki, Speaker Emeritus and Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, sent his Hawaii Superferry opinion piece to Hawaii daily newspapers yesterday. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin was first to publish it today. While much of the piece focuses on the divisiveness of the issue, there is a section that may be of particular interest to those who followed SB1276 last session. That's the bill that requires an environmental impact statement for state harbor improvements for any vessel carrying passengers and vehicles between islands. Souki says:

"The bill required that a full environmental impact statement was necessary prior to the Superferry's launch. Contrary to what has been reported, the bill that crossed over to the House still required the EIS prior to the ferry's start of operations, and was not a so-called compromise bill. The bill's language was ambiguous, and I received no communication from the Senate to clarify it.
At that time, I chose not to hear the bill in the House. I didn't want to jeopardize the Superferry's ability to start operations this summer by reversing the state's decision at about the same time as the scheduled launch. It would have been a terrible message to send to business. Also, the Superferry had conducted environmental studies outside the formal assessment process. That said, the Supreme Court has ruled that the EA is required, and we must respectfully accept that ruling."

SB1276 is still alive. It has been carried over to the 2008 regular session.

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