There is a lot going on right now:
1.) The book on this is catching fire. There have been some interesting phone conversations and e-mail's exchanging hands between the islands about the book.
2.) Fargo went to speak to the Kawaihae community on Sunday. They were expecting him there for at least a couple of hours. He started getting peppered with difficult questions, like about DU, so he got short and left after only an hour before a number of people in the small audience could ask their questions. The flaming about this in e-mails from those in attendance is noteworthy. Why would a person take a time consuming round-trip to go over their from Oahu and then only stay for an hour? Here is the only article on the event: "Superferry Update; Questions remain unanswered at Kawaihae meeting."
3.) HSF announced yesterday they are offering 2 for 1 deals but only to military personnel. I wasn't even going to recognize this story, but others have, so I'll just say ridership must be low. Otherwise, the preference doesn't surprise me.
4.) Lastly Joan Conrow has a fairly decent blog entry today on word about the new book, Superferry Chronicles. I found the comments to her blog entry to be especially enlightening. One or two of the comments there clarify the size of the crowd at Nawiliwili Harbor in August 2007; it was somewhere between 1000 and 1500. Those comments also clarify the filled and overflowing auditorium at the beginning of the event when the Governor's Unified Command came to speak in Sept. 2007.
But what I found especially interesting was that one of the anonymous commentors asks if people have read what Ken Stokes has written on the issue? Surprisingly, I had not, so I looked it up. I was surprised with what I found. This is important because it relates to a similar type of evaluation that could be used by others with an influenced Act 2 EIS. Here are my responses to Ken's 2006 post on this subject:
"...Well, we'll take it in order:
1. Claim- "Ironically, concerns about the energy efficiency of inter-island transport have only recently entered the debate amid claims these boats would actually generate more emissions than inter-island jets, though the available data (see below) suggest the opposite is true."
Response- HSF burns 15 times more petroleum-based fuel to cover the same route than an Hawaiian Air jet. Even if you brought the maximum number of people transported to the same for each, a jet airplane is at least twice as efficient as HSF using no more than 1/2 the fuel that HSF takes to transport the same number of people the same distance. This is mainly so because the boat has 4 diesel engines moving through more resistant water and the planes have 2 jet engines moving through less resistant air. One could question whether one pollutes the air more than the sea and vis-a-versa, but I would think the petroleum carbon is released into the environment regardless. From an economic standpoint, a jet plane is much more efficient than HSF, assuming there is not really the need to move cars quickly interisland.
2. Claim- About the traffic, and "300 vehicles" split evenly going north and south.
Response- A key point here is that they don't all come and go in one day. They accumulate over a number of days in the beginning, as people are here for a number of days, weeks; ie., visitors and construction workers. The accumulated daily average total, assuming uninterrupted service, would amount to more like 1000 to 2000 additional cars on the island. These roads, esp. between Wailua and Kealia, cannot handle that kind of influx.
3. Claim- As for "the added risk and impact" of invasive species "must be fairly small."
Response- Well, first of all, we don't know, and certainly an economist would not know. Maybe a biologist or a DOA or DLNR officier might have a better idea on that. What we do know is that Kauai does not have the size of invasives populations that Oahu and the Big Island, and that even Maui have. Those would include the mongoose, fire ants, varroa mites, and coqui frogs, among others. All of those have been spreading between the other islands, but not to Kauai, except for the coqui in small numbers.
Just one example I'll mention. The Nene geese are well established on Kauai, at least on the Northshore. I see and hear them on the land and at low altitude all the time. That is not the case on the other islands. THIS IS the beautiful state bird. If the mongoose gets established here, you can kiss the Nene and other egg-laying endangered native species goodbye.
4. Claim- "And, regarding threats to whales...the Superferry’s “mitigation” responses to these challenges probably makes this boat less of a threat than the hundreds of “whale watch” tour boats...Again, there is some risk here, yet probably not large."
Response- "Less of a threat" how so? When whale watch boats have infrequently had accidental collisions with whales, they almost never result in the whale's death, as the whale watch boats are relatively small and moving slowly. Inertia, mass and velocity, are what determine the threat of fatal collisions between boats and whales as has been documented about every couple of months in places like the Canary Islands. So far, the ferry here has not operated consistently or at all in Jan., Feb., or Mar. last season. It remains to be seen what its track record will be operating daily during the height of the whales season here, assuming it can handle the Winter sea conditions and not run into other mechanical problems again as it did last Winter.
5. Claim- "Conceivably, the ferries could be a win-win…As in: keep the travel AND cut the [CO2] emissions."
Response- It's not a win for the company, because they have not and probably never will actually cover all of their costs, much less the significant costs they have been able to formally externalize to the State. As for less CO2 emissions, I am not convinced that burning 400 gallons of jet fuel releases more CO2 to the environment than burning 6000 gallons of diesel fuel to cover the same route.