Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mina's Take

Kauai Rep. Mina Morita has been a powerful spokeswoman for the environment and upholding the rule of law. I thought you might be interested in her floor speeches and journal insert re: the Superferry House hearing.

Mr. Speaker:

Arrogance and speed were primary factors that led to the catastrophic disaster of the sinking of the Titanic. With the Hawaii SuperFerry situation we are headed in a fast ferry towards a metaphoric iceberg but this body may have a chance to sideswipe the iceberg rather than face a full impact with this floor amendment.

Let me make myself clear that I do not support this special session, I strongly support the rule of law and I offer this floor amendment reluctantly and only because I find so many shortcomings to the underlying bill if this body chooses this course to make a political fix to a political fix. And let me make it clear about the objective of this special session. We are not making policy. We are finding a way to circumvent the law to facilitate a permitting process.

First of all, too much focus is wrongly being put on an Environmental Impact Statement being conducted by the Department of Transportation to address the secondary impacts to the environment that may result from the use of the Hawaii SuperFerry in conjunction with the Kahului harbor improvements. The DOT exemption was the only avenue for a legal challenge in this debacle. The primary impact of the Hawaii SuperFerry operations should be associated with the granting of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, the license for the Hawaii SuperFerry to operate as a water carrier within the Hawaiian Islands which is regulated by the Public Utilities Commission.

In the parlance of Chapter 343, I strongly believe that the responsibility for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement is the responsibility of the Hawaii SuperFerry because the operations of the Hawaii SuperFerry is the proposed action which triggers the need for an environmental review.

Again, in the parlance of Chapter 343, the Public Utilities Commission should be the reviewing and accepting agency as the regulator of the license, the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, that gives the Hawaii SuperFerry the privilege of operating as a water carrier within the Hawaiian Islands.

What this floor amendment attempts to do is to allow the immediate operations of the Hawaii SuperFerry under certain provisions set forth by this body through conditions to be incorporated as part of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. Require the Hawaii SuperFerry to prepare an environmental impact statement under the guidance of the Office of Environmental Quality Control. Establish the Public Utilities Commission as the accepting agency. Require the Public Utilities Commission to open a docket upon completion and acceptance of an EIS to address conditions to be included in the certificate of public convenience and necessity to mitigate any negative impacts identified in the Environmental Impact Statement.

This floor amendment eliminates the need for the task force as each interested party can participate through the EIS preparation and review process with greater transparency.

As you all know the proceedings within the Public Utilities Commission is a quasi-judicial process. There are processes to file both informal and formal complaints as well as an appeal process. If we remove the political hamstrings, or even the appearance of it, upon this agency, I believe, this is the best avenue to protect all interests, be it the Hawaii SuperFerry, the consumer or Hawaii's environment. Setting aside the issue of circumventing the law in the first place, this may be the best route to re-establish and retain the balance of power between the administration, the legislature and the judiciary.

I ask for your support for this floor amendment.

Her journal comments on second reading:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this measure. The constitution of the State of Hawaii grants us the power to enact legislation that is not inconsistent with the constitutions of the United States and Hawaii. We generally make laws to protect the health, safety and welfare of Hawaii's people and its environment. We should not be making laws to correct political fixes gone bad which is what House Bill 1 attempts to do. I want to emphasize, in House Bill 1 this body is not making a new policy. Rather, this body is establishing a process to circumvent existing laws to facilitate a permitting process.

No one should be fooled by the disguise of Hawaii SuperFerry under the term large capacity ferry vessel. This is a special interest bill to benefit one company from the blunders of the Lingle Administration to avoid disclosure under an environmental review process. This type of action shows no respect for the rule of law by this company or this administration and now, by this body. We jeopardize the integrity of this institution by our participation in this tragic comedy of errors.


Anonymous said...

Mahalo Joan for posting Hermina Morita's speeches. As a shy and reserved '72 grad from Kamehameha HS, Mina has become a very powerful and sensitive leader. Kaua'i is very fortunate to have her.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the Forces of Evil are gearing up to gut Chapter 343 during the next regular session of the Legislature. Will House Speaker Say (D-Palolo/SuperFerry) again be so craven as to keep Rep. Morita's committee from taking part in the discussion?

Anonymous said...

So I wonder, how much money did Say receive from super ferry?