Human visitors welcome, but not the alien species
I do not object to the Hawaii Superferry providing an alternate means of transportation to the people of Hawaii. If 500 visitors come to Kauai each day, it would be akin to several added airline flights at the peak of the tourist season. More visitors equals more business and more of our residents enjoying a brief glimpse of our cherished rural lifestyle.
However, I am concerned about the Superferry disgorging 300 motor vehicles onto our roads each day. These vehicles will emanate from all over Oahu, a few from Maui and a few from the Big Island. The prospect of this daily infusion of off-island vehicles with the ability to instantly travel from Lihue to Haena to Kalalau to Polihale and to all points in between is frightening.
Kauai is fortunate not to have been victimized by as many invasive species as the rest of the state. We do have miconia and banana poka. There are no mongooses, no brown tree snakes, no super-geckos and only a small colony of coqui frogs.
We do not know how gall wasps and honeybee mites got to Oahu, but they are now on Kauai.
Prior to Hurricane Iniki, buffalo grass and honohono lined our waterways. This streamside flora is no more. Clumps of guinea grass more than 6 feet tall dominate stream and river banks, the shoulders of roads and highways, pastures, fallow fields and front lawns. After Iniki in 1991, it was possible to watch this invasive species spread all over our island until it was the ubiquitous ground cover.
I don't know if guinea grass came from Oahu. I do know that invasive species first arrive in Honolulu's airports and harbors before spreading to the rest of the state, at the rate of more than 20 species annually.
Nevertheless, the state has not enacted inspection procedures to keep harmful plants and animals picked up in tire treads and undercarriages from being transported by Superferry to Kauai. On the one hand, we are supposed to accept the Superferry's sincere representation that its standards are higher than those of the other intrastate carriers. On the other hand, we also are supposed to accept the fact that no requirements are imposed upon other carriers so none should be imposed on the Superferry.
That neither Matson nor Young Bros. nor cruise ships nor airlines had to undergo environmental assessments thereby exempts the Superferry is ingenuous at best and stupid at worst. It's like saying that criminal defendants were not accorded their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination prior to 1966. So what was the big deal with that guy Ernesto Miranda in Phoenix? Why did the U.S. Supreme Court overturn his conviction? After all, the police were not expected to inform an arrestee of his right against self-incrimination, but just to extract a confession by whatever means available.
Fortunately, once the constitutional standard was established in Phoenix, every government agency had to comply. Reasoning by analogy, if an EA/EIS establishes a stricter standard for the Superferry, compliance with the same standard should be required of the other carriers.
Finally, those who elect to reside on Oahu avail themselves of the benefits of an urban environment. Those of us who elect to reside on the neighbor islands forgo the benefits of an urban setting for a rural lifestyle. All we ask is that the residents or our state who support the Superferry recognize and appreciate the things that we neighbor island residents cherish and seek to protect.
Hele mai but please be akamai. Do not unwittingly sow the seeds that might well destroy that which all of us seek to compare, to contrast, to enjoy and to appreciate.
Hartwell H.K. Blake lives in Koloa, Kauai.