Thursday, January 8, 2009

Musings: No Worries

As any thinking person would have predicted, the newly released draft EIS for the Hawaii Superferry has determined that the big boat is likely to cause some significant direct and indirect impacts on the Islands.

It also comes as no surprise that these impacts are the same ones that opponents have been citing all along: invasive species, traffic, depletion of resources, whale collisions, harbor congestion, degraded cultural resources, worsened air quality.

But as those who are familiar with the EIS process know, it is not the finding of impacts that matters. They are almost always identified, except by the military, which consistently maintains that blowing stuff up, building big weapons systems and carrying out live fire training exercises results in no environmental, social or cultural impacts at all.

What really matters is the mitigation, and after 20+ years, I haven’t yet run into an EIS that has identified impacts that it claims can’t be mitigated.

And sure enough, if you start reading the EIS right here, you’ll begin encountering words like “temporary” and “not significantly” and “minimal” and “unlikely.” Before you know it you’ll be thinking like a consultant: hey, no worries, all those impacts are no big deal.

Well, unless you’re a Maui fisherman or surfer or canoe paddler who uses the West Kahului Harbor area, where plans to build a new pier for the ferry would wipe out two surf spots and disrupt generations of traditional fishing practices. But if HSF keeps on using the same berthing area it has been, no problem! (Ummm, unless a north swell is breaking….)

And so what if the view from the Big Island’s Pu`ukohola Heiau National Historic Park is ruined by pier construction. Heck, they can always “use paint to soften the visual effects of sheds and storage buildings.” And if the pile drilling and blasting threaten to harm the rock structure, don’t give it a second thought: “alternative methods would be considered.”

Oh, and don’t fret about military vehicles spreading depleted uranium; exposure to DU is “highly unlikely.” Why? Because “the Army doesn’t use such weapons in Hawaii” — at least, not anymore. Never mind that DU has been found at Pohakuloa and Schofield, and the Army hasn’t finished its study of whether that deadly stuff has spread.

Traffic jams? Shoots, putting a signal at the intersection of Nawiliwili Road/Rice Street/Kailikea will solve that problem in a jiffy. And if the traffic flows gets degraded below acceptable levels, well, that will be due not to the ferry “but rather regional growth of the area.”

When it comes to biological impacts, take heart: it appears from “casual observation” that all the whales struck by boats in the previous 22 collisions in Hawaii survived the impact. Besides, HSF is already doing its whale avoidance thing, and the noise it generates is not likely to “induce trauma,” although it “may cause masking of acoustic cues or acoustically-induced stress.” Meanwhile, the risk of a collision with a monk seal or sea turtle “is considered minimal.”

Granted, invasive species are a significant problem, but again, no need to fret. The ferry “represents only a small fraction of the overall risk” of spreading pests around the state, even though vehicles transported on the boat “do represent a novel pathway for inter-island dispersal of invasive species.” Still, posting some signs warning passengers about prohibited items, conducting random baggage checks and not rushing the inspectors should do the trick. Oh, and don’t forget to train the inspectors and consistently and thoroughly question the passengers.

As for the emissions from those four main diesel engines and three diesel-powered electric generator engines, hey, minor! Besides, cruise ships are way worse, you know.

So yes, the ferry will cause major impacts, but there’s no cause for alarm, because luckily, they can all be mitigated. Now everybody just settle down and go back to sleep. DOT, HSF and Belt Collins will take care of everything.

Besides, we're not talking about Hawaii Superferry, anyway, but a generic, run-of-the-mill statewide large capacity inter-island ferry.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

It all sounds reasonable to me. But, then, I'm a consultant also.

No service too small, no invoice to large.

Anonymous said...

funny how this thing takes attention away from the real problems in the county

Anonymous said...

An uneconomic service that is unlikely to survive the recession anyway. Big flap over not much.

This has always been about keeping folks from Oahu from coming over and crowding the surfing/fishing spots. The rest of these "significant impacts" are really not that significant.

A hundred cars coming into Lihue is less of an impact than the High School letting out. If invasive species are a big issue, make inspections mandatory. The barges are already moving anything you want with minimal inspections.

Air pollution in the port? The cars idling are probably a bigger effect. The airport is probably 10X as bad. Nevermind the VOG.

Stop pretending this just wasn't anti-development. At least then we could have an honest debate.

Anonymous said...

you are not allowed to make those points as anonymous, it upsets them

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MauiBrad said...

Excellent review Joan!

Ken Stokes also had a good review today http://kauaian.net/blog/?p=1387

Joan, you mention the standard techniques employed in an EIS, and that basically they assume environmental degredation and decline.

That may be something that is acceptable in a big city, but creaping environmental degredation is NOT acceptable on a unique environmental island like Kauai whose whole identity including for economic purposes is dependent upon the environment being maintained at an exquisite level like few other places in the world.

That's what people here and visitors from around the world want Kauai to be. They don't want Kauai to fall into creeping environmental degredation as is implicitly accepted by the Act 2 DOT/Belt Collins pseudo-'EIS'.

Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

Aloha kakou, the situation on the Big Island, Moku o Keawe, is different from Kauai. Pohakuloa is in the heart of our moku, over 100,000 acres, half of it already ruined by cluster bombs and probably alot more DU than the Army wants to admit. The Strykers will have an expensive carwash to remove the radioactive dirt before shipping out on the wholesome family Stupidferry. Just don't let your kiddees poke their haids in the cannon barrels, which will be hot stuff after deployment in Iraq. DU weapons burn in the gun barrels, they are so pyrophoric. Check out the opening minute of the film, "Blowing in the Wind" to see a DU tank penetrator burning as it flies at over 2000 miles per hours. The Army undoubtedly has shot alot of that stuff up at Pohakuloa over the decades but they are not even looking for it. This is like the Vieques coverup.
You funny people who think the SF is not deadly serious are clueless, it will be bringing in a lot of destructive equipment to our moku that will ruin more and more land. The cluster bombs litter so much expanse already and they want to double the live fire with the Strykers. If you blase people could just eat all this crap yourselves and get if off my island and never come back, don't even dream of bringing your happy SF here or your complacency and lack of aloha for our aina, hey, we will do just fine without yall, your military, your opala, your empire, and your doomed future.

Joan said...

it will be bringing in a lot of destructive equipment to our moku that will ruin more and more land.

Mahalo for reminding folks of yet another serious major impact -- and one I don't recall seeing addressed in the EIS.

Anonymous said...

It's not your island. It's the Big Island of the State of Hawaii of the USA.

You're just fortunate to live here but, unless you have some fee-simple land, you don't own any of it.

I'm pro HSF, pro Mil, pro mainlandization of the BI.

Anonymous said...

"If you blase people could just eat all this crap yourselves and get if off my island and never come back, don't even dream of bringing your happy SF here or your complacency and lack of aloha for our aina, hey, we will do just fine without yall, your military, your opala, your empire, and your doomed future."

-- deal. give give back the cell phones, trucks, infrastructure, social security payments, jobs, etc and whatever other USA trappings were brought here.

you can keep the pot tho, and the missionaries

Anonymous said...

It's not your island. It's the Big Island of the State of Hawaii of the USA.

You're just fortunate to live here but, unless you have some fee-simple land, you don't own any of it.

I'm pro HSF, pro Mil, pro mainlandization of the BI.

Why do you live in Hawaii when you can get all of that and then some on the continent? Why do you have to impose your mainland values on our unique culture & lifestyle? Face it. The history and the cultural make up of Hawaii is a far cry from any other state on the continent and kanaka will resist the continued mainlandnization and militarization of our aina. Your attitude doesn't belong here.

Anonymous said...

I like the weather. That's enough.

Better than CA or FL.

Anonymous said...

Lots of places have nice weather.

Anonymous said...

"Why do you live in Hawaii when you can get all of that and then some on the continent? Why do you have to impose your mainland values on our unique culture & lifestyle? Face it. The history and the cultural make up of Hawaii is a far cry from any other state on the continent and kanaka will resist the continued mainlandnization and militarization of our aina. Your attitude doesn't belong here."

-- im going to guess the climate / weather / topography are part of the reason (but i think you knew that). i am curious tho as to what "values" are being imposed and how is that being done such that it is a given groups fault. i suspect that economic competition is the root driver in a number of problems. gentrification is real, but i am at a loss as to how to mitigate it legally without fruitlessly trying to suspend freedom of trade, exchange, british common law concepts of property rights, and freedom of mobility. it seems more than just a matter of attitude. i would suggest the problems you identify and the concerns you have would still exist even if the groups you cite as creating such problems largely shared your sense of proper personal values and attitude. its economics, in my view