Friday, January 9, 2009

Other Hawaii Blogs' Observations on the Act 2 Pseudo-'EIS'

Three excellent blogs today on this, 2 from Kauai and one from Hilo.

Joan Conrow writes about the minimal language and standards of this type of EIS commenting on many quotes already from the document at:

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 matter...What really matters is the mitigations, and after 20+ years, I haven’t yet run into an EIS that has identified impacts that can’t be rest of post here.

Here was my response to Joan's post:

Excellent review! Joan, you mention the standard techniques employed in an EIS, and that basically they assume environmental degradation and decline. That may be something that is acceptable in a big city, but creaping environmental degradation 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 degradation as is implicitly accepted by the Act 2 DOT/Belt Collins pseudo-'EIS'.

Ken Stokes writes about what I will call the fudged CO2 emissions and population data used by Belt Collins at:

HI superferry EIS: old tools shed little light on sustainability
As expected, the Superferry EIS provides recommended mitigation measures for everything except the passionate opposition to the Superferry by some Kaua’i residents (via HNLadvertiser). Sadly, the crucial emissions data provided is of little use, due to methodological vagaries...The EIS does provide estimates of the overall GHG emissions (86,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents) , yet we find no overall number for the “load factor.” Cargo tons, vehicles, and passengers are projected for 2 time periods, and details are provided for each type of emission at each harbor, yet it is not obvious what the total tonnage would be, nor how the emission figures sum to the GHG total. Without these summary measures, we cannot compare HSF operations to other forms of transport. Ideally, we would have measures of MTCO2e per passenger-mile and per ton-mile. (And never mind that these are tough to calculate for boats with both cargo and passengers…that’s wot I tho’t we were paying for.)....

Who knows whether it’s worth quibbling with the specifics in this EIS. For example, the forecasted net increase of 237 in Kauai’s ‘defacto’ population is benchmarked against old numbers that take into account neither the recent declines in inter-island air travel, nor the projected declines in visitor traffic....

BTW, I agree with Joan Conrow that this document is framed with the “no worries” language of mitigation-ese…yet we knew to expect that, going in. And I agree with Brad Parsons that this document should have the anti-copying security turned off, so that it can be more readily dissected.

Janice Crowl a gardener from Hilo writes about invasive species that this pseudo-'EIS' takes a pass on:

Superferry in the Garden
Love it or hate it, one thing is certain about the Superferry: It spreads invasive species. That has always been obvious to me, and many nursery owners, prior to the Superferry launch, even though operations began without a draft environmental impact statement.

Now that the draft EIS has finally been made available, what’s it all mean? Well, it could possibly mean that all those tax dollars were spent on building up something that may just prove too costly to operate anyway. It could fizzle out, investors pack up, and we would get stuck with the bill and a further degraded, shrinking native environment.

Gardeners take note: The gorgeous non-native Mtssa. Dark Star 'Orchidworks' above is not an invasive species. However, imported potted ornamental plants, probably palms, are how coqui frogs and little fire ants first hitchhiked to Hawai'i, and undoubtedly it became easier to spread these invasive species via potted plants transported interisland through the Superferry. It takes some doing to smuggle a potted plant aboard an interisland airline – not as easy as macadmia-nut shortbread cookies. By law, the plant has to be inspected; if it passes, it gets a sticker. Federal inspectors from the USDA are usually stationed at airline terminals and check only plant material going on flights between the mainland or abroad, whereas the Hawaii state Dept. of Agriculture is a separate office and inspects only items going interisland. Supposedly, invasive plants aren’t allowed on the Superferry, and any plant going onboard has to be inspected by the Hawaii DOA.

What I’d like to know is, who is monitoring the Superferry dock now, and how thorough are they really? On an airline, potted plants are considered baggage; logistically, you’re limited to transporting just a few pots. However, if, say, Mr. Plantfreak wanted to do some serious nursery shopping on a neighbor island he could load up a car, truck, or van with many more potted plants and drive right onto the Superferry with his booty, possibly for even less than what he’d have to pay a regular shipper. He doesn’t even have to be a certified grower. Compost this: Does the DOA inspect every plant? Does Superferry check the back of every car, truck and van? Or does that just slow loading down way too much? A commercial entity, Superferry wants government agencies to be responsible for inspections and foot the bill for the measures to prevent the spread of invasives. As if there’s piles of money in the public coffers for such things. I don’t know about you, but that just makes an organic gardener like me ponder the inevitability of having to buy little fire ant poison. [Actually, I know from experience elsewhere in the world, fire ant poison does not work.--Ed.]

Two fairly good mainstream media articles reporting on the Act 2 Pseudo-'EIS' at:

"Study reveals ups, downs of ferry-related harbor projects"
By Christie Wilson Honolulu Advertiser January 9, 2009

"Draft EIS reveals ferry impacts"
By Coco Zickos The Garden Island News January 9, 2009

And lastly, a poignant letter to the editor in the Kauai paper on January 9, 2009:

Ferry not fit for Kaua‘i
I wish to complete Mr. Tolbe’s letter published Dec. 15. If the stupidferry were here today, career thieves from O‘ahu could casually rob Mr. Tolbe’s home with ease and care and carry all the loot back to O‘ahu on the ferry.

Pedophiles could take a Kaua‘i child, drug them and hide them on their vehicle and steal them to O‘ahu. Professional armed robbers could easily hold up a bank and/or liquor store and get away cleanly. Rude and foul-talking motorist from the other islands could curse at us for going so slow because Kaua‘i drivers obey the 50 mph speed limit.

KPD could be overwhelmed by the problems of traffic and crime. A smart drug dealer could easily bring his drugs first to Kaua‘i, then smuggle them aboard the stupidferry to O‘ahu without worry of any security checks on this side of the Pacific.

Gee, I haven’t even mentioned one single issue dealing with the environment.

No, Mr. Tolbe, the only thing keeping you from seeing your relatives during the holidays is your decision not to dig a bit deeper into your pocket for a ticket on a system that secures the safety and tranquility of our beloved island.

• Eduardo Valenciana, Lihu‘e

Aloha, Brad

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