Superferry bill won’t produce any miracles
The Legislature is expected to meet this week to vote on a bill to let the ship sail.
A bill to authorize Hawaii Superferry operations while a legally mandated environmental review is conducted won't satisfy all parties, but it attempts to correct at least some of the mistakes that have kept the ship from sailing.
No doubt most disappointed with the current course of events are the citizens and environmental groups who successfully went to court to seek remedy when the Lingle administration -- with the support of the Legislature -- set aside state law requiring the review.
This was abundantly evident when the groups asked that if the special legislation is approved, it contain 29 conditions, some of which could unduly encumber the ferry. For example, a 13-knot travel speed to minimize collisions with whales might not be acceptable to the company because it might be too slow to keep the vessel on schedule. Others are excessive, such as insisting that passengers disclose if they plan to camp and have in hand permits for campsites, and vacuuming floors of all vehicles.
Still, other conditions, like checking coolers, luggage and vehicles for contraband or products that could prove environmentally hazardous, might be useful.
Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said lawmakers, who will consider the measure in a special session this week, will take a look at the requests, but they are leaving it to the governor to establish any interim environmental safeguards.
Plaintiff groups are skeptical of having the administration set up mitigation, because it did not deem an environmental assessment necessary in the first place. Meanwhile, ferry officials who have been tightlipped about their views of the bill probably won't be happy with a clause that shields the state from lawsuits.
The bill portions out varying degrees of rectification in hopes of sorting out the Superferry disarray, and while not everyone sees it as fair, the situation doesn't lend itself to much more.
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