Monday, October 8, 2007

Superferry ruling scheduled for tomorrow

by Kirk Caldwell, State House Majority Leader

As the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right. I support the Superferry, and like the majority of people in Hawaii, I think we need an alternative mode of transportation between islands. But, there is more to this issue than public polls and political spin, and I believe the legislature needs to go forward judiciously before setting a policy to essentially accommodate one project.

Simply put, the state incorrectly issued an exemption for the harbor work, putting the Superferry in a bad financial position, and further hurting Hawaii's reputation as an unfriendly place to do business. Now Governor Lingle is asking the State Legislature to call a special session regardless of the court ruling, but she refuses to share with the State Legislature or the public the specific written opinion by the Attorney General that determined no environmental assessment was required for the $40 million harbor renovation.

The Governor's refusal to give us the formal reasons why the State gave harbors an exemption from environmental law flies in the face of her asking the legislature to fix the situation legally. How can you appropriately remedy the situation when the State will not openly share the reasoning behind its own wrong action?

In addition, when the Supreme Court issued its order on August 23rd stating than an environmental assessment should have been conducted, Governor Lingle should have immediately pulled together all the parties in the case. Her purpose should have been to work out a framework to conduct an environmental review and allow temporary operation of ferry service. This would have been a difficult negotiation. But it could have provided the court, the legislature, the Superferry management and the state administration with a go-forward plan. If specific help were needed from the legislature, the Public Utilities Commission or other parties, it should have been delineated through the negotiation.

The Governor is now saying a special legislative session on the Superferry should be called regardless of tomorrow's ruling. If we are to effectively resolve the problem, we need the Governor and the state administration to work with the legislature and provide the information we need to ensure that good policy prevails.


Charley Foster said...

This is the first I've ever heard of a specific written opinion by the Attorney General that determined no environmental assessment was required. Was such an opinion actually ever issued? Nothing in the process would seem to call for one. I'm only aware of an opinion by the OEQC concurring with the DOT that the project fell within the scope of approved exemptions.

House Blog said...

My understanding is that one of the legislators asked the Attorney General to provide the written opinion to the House members. The AG responded that such opinions are protected under the attorney/client privilege, leaving members to assume that an opinion existed but would not be forthcoming.

Anonymous said...

The Supreme Court ruling was unanimous. That makes me think the law is clearly written. What chance is there that a sixth lawyer read it and interpreted it differently? If Lingle had this document and it supported her position she wouldn't be hiding it. She'd have it plastered on the front page of every newspaper.

Charley Foster said...

If one is looking for the state's legal rationale, then one can just get the briefs the state filed in the Supreme Court appeal. It's all right there.


I'm no math wiz, but thought this was interesting......found on the Advertiser forum.
One friend suggested the financial shortfall of the superferry would be made up by transporting strykers, another thought the shortfall would be made up in the sale of whale meat. What do you think?
How is the superferry is going to make money based on its own load factors ?

The following from HSF ………………….
We expect an average load of about 400 people and 110 vehicles per trip.

Revenue according to the above load estimates
Average one way trip revenue:
400 passengers x $ 72 = $ 28,800
110 vehicles x $ 65 = $ 7,150

Total $ 35,950 per trip

Number of one way trips per week as scheduled : 14 Oahu/ Maui 12 Oahu / Kauai.
Total trips per week 26
REVENUE $ 35,950 x 26 = $ 934,700 per week

---------- ------------ -------------- ----------------------

EXPENSES . . . .Garibaldi stated in court,
weekly operating cost when ship is idle:
using NO fuel expense = $ 650,000

The current price for marine diesel in Honolulu is $740 / metric ton.
358 gallons per metric ton
Price per gallon at least $ 2.07
Fuel consumption per one way trip 6,600 gallons , Kauai or Maui
Kauai or Maui average fuel cost (one way trip) 6,600 x $2.07 = $13,662
FUEL COST 26 trips per week X $ 13,662 = $ 355,212 per week

OPERATING COST INCLUDING FUEL = $ 1,005,212 per week

OPERATING LOSS based on HSF's own load factors = - $ 70,512 per week

OPERATING LOS $70,512 x 52 weeks = - $ 3,666,624 per YEAR

Should our legislature support a loosing proposition
that charges about $72 for each passenger fare on a trip that
takes at least 3 hours each way??
If they reduce their fares, the loss is greater.