SUPERFERRY: ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
Groups weigh ferry’s rules
Gov. Linda Lingle met yesterday with about 20 representatives from her Cabinet and various groups, both for and against the Hawaii Superferry's resumption of service, as her administration continues working on the conditions under which the vessel will be allowed to sail.
Conditions are required under the bill passed by the state Legislature yesterday that allows the ferry to resume operations while an environmental impact statement is prepared.
"We think that the bill falls short in adequately protecting the environment," said Jeff Mikulina, director of the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter, who attended the meeting.
Other groups represented included the Pacific Whale Foundation and the Hawaii Farm Bureau. Also seen going into the Governor's Office yesterday afternoon were various Cabinet members and representatives from the Hawaii Superferry.
The Sierra Club was among the groups that successfully sued to stop the ferry's operations until some form of environmental review was completed.
Now that the law has been changed, "There's some bare minimum conditions we're asking for her to add," Mikulina said.
The bill tasks the Lingle administration with developing detailed rules but sets minimum requirements.
Those include having the Superferry devise a plan for how it would handle whale collisions. Passengers would be barred from taking fishing nets or soil and dirt on board and would have to declare all plants and fruits or invasive species. The ferry would also have to inspect all vehicles prior to boarding.
Environmentalists are seeking more, such as having the vessel slow down in known whale waters and increasing the number of inspectors for invasive species.
John Garibaldi, the Superferry's president and chief executive officer, has said he hopes to have the vessel sailing again by Nov. 15 and that officials are working actively with the administration and other groups.
"We have been going back and forth," Garibaldi said. "We are still waiting for a draft with the input from the community," he said.
Lingle said she and her staff plan to work through the weekend to hopefully have an executive order ready by Monday.
"Before we come out with what we feel should be conditions, I want to make sure we hear from them," Lingle said of the meeting. "Hopefully by Monday we'll have a group of conditions that further protect the environment, recognize the traffic and other concerns and yet allow the company to be in service again."
She said the state also is aiming to file a motion Monday asking Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza to lift the order that bars the ferry from sailing until an environmental assessment is completed. That ruling came on the heels of a ruling by the state Supreme Court, which said an assessment should have been done before the state went ahead with $40 million in harbor improvements to accommodate the service.
Star-Bulletin reporter Richard Borreca contributed to this report.