Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Comparing a Chapter 343 E.I.S. to an Act 2 "EIS"

I got the following question from a Kauai County Council candidate who is likely to be elected:

"Aloha, Brad
I am having a hard time distinguishing between the difference between an EIS and the Act 2 EA. If you could spell it out to me I would appreciate it."

This is a good question. I think there are a lot of people who do not know exactly the difference. From reading Act 2 and Chapter 343 and from a speech I heard Dan Hempey give based on a conversation he had with Isaac Hall, my understanding is that Act 2 does not allow for the 'no action' alternative on the project being studied, further it does not provide for the governing authority to reject and not allow the project. The 'no action' alternative is a part of a real EIS under HEPA Chapter 343 and a federal NEPA EIS.

An example of this was the development project at Laau on Molokai by the Molokai Ranch over the past year. Based on public testimony on that Chapter 343 EIS, the State Land Use Commission was set to reject that EIS, so Molokai Ranch withdrew the EIS that they had commissioned and paid for rather than have it rejected outright. The HSF Act 2 'EIS' does not have such a 'no action' or rejection possibility based upon public input.

The following is a passage written by a legal expert involved and further explains it, "Act 2 changed the very purpose of HEPA just to accommodate the Superferry Corporation. Until November 1, 2007 (the day Act 2 took effect), HEPA had been based on the fact that EA studies were “critical to humanity’s well being,…and that an environmental review process” was necessary to “alert decision makers to significant environmental effects which may result from the implementation of certain actions.” Act 2’s stated purpose is to “facilitate the establishment of interisland ferry service and, at the same time, protect Hawai‘i’s fragile environment (italics added) by clarifying that neither the preparation of an environmental assessment, nor a finding of no significant impact, nor acceptance of an environmental impact statement shall be a condition precedent to, or otherwise be required prior to … operation of a large capacity ferry vessel company.”" (Thank you to the authors for permission to quote the above paragraph.)

Here are also the full-text links to Chapter 343 and Act 2 with it's legislative history. The requirements for alternatives and for the "no action" alternative under a real NEPA/HEPA E.I.S. are here.

Aloha, Brad

P.S. A blogger/reporter on Kauai has since written another post related to this at the following.

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