Molokai group wants
hearing on cruise bills

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> A Molokai group has criticized two key lawmakers for refusing to hold public hearings on legislation calling for the state to monitor discharges on cruise ships.

Walter Ritte Jr., a spokesman with Hui Ho'opakele Aina, said state Rep. Joseph Souki and state Sen. Cal Kawamoto have told him they are going to keep the bills in their transportation committees.

On Wednesday, Hui Ho'opakele was denied a motion in Maui Circuit Court seeking to halt cruise ships from visiting Molokai until there is an environmental review of the visits' impact upon the island, including the reefs.

Ritte said he feels frustrated because Souki and Kawamoto will not even hold public hearings on House Bill 201 and its counterpart, Senate Bill 485. Ritte said the two transportation chairmen took the same action on similar bills last year.

Kawamoto and Souki said they are holding the measures because the state and cruise ship industry already have a memorandum of understanding to regulate treated sewage and other discharges into the ocean.

The memorandum was signed in October 2002 by Gov. Ben Cayetano and the Northwest Cruise Ship Association, representing 10 shipping lines operating in Hawaii waters.

"We want to see if the memorandum works," Kawamoto said.

Association representative Charles Toguchi said the memorandum provides stricter requirements than the legislative bills. He said the memorandum covers discharges of waste water, solid waste, hazardous waste and waste emissions, while the bills regulate only waste water.

He said the memorandum also requires discharges four miles beyond a 600-foot depth of an island, whereas the bills allow discharges only beyond three miles.

Toguchi said the memorandum is also more flexible because it allows both sides to review the terms once a year.

He said the memorandum allows the state or association to cancel the understanding within 30 days, and the cruise ship industry is aware that it must comply with the requirements.

"We are going to be very diligent," he said. "It is not only in the interest of Hawaii, but also in the interest of the cruise industry to keep Hawaii pollution-free."

Ritte said the memorandum allows the cruise industry to regulate itself and that the bills would have the state monitor compliance. "The environment is too precious for self-regulation," he said.

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