Friday, February 27, 2009

Jeffrey Parker's comments on the Act 2 Pseudo-'EIS'

The following are Jeffrey Parker's comments of the Kahului Harbor Coalition on the Act 2 Pseudo-'EIS':

Kahului Harbor Coalition

P.O. Box 170

Haiku, HI



To: Ms. Katherine P. Kealoha, Director

Office of Environmental Quality Control

235 South Beretania Street, Suite 702

Honolulu, HI 96813-2419

Fax: 808 586-4186

Cc: Mr. Michael D. Formby, Deputy Director – Harbors

State Dept. of Transportation

79 South Nimitz Highway

Honolulu, HI 96813-4898

Fax: 808 587-3652

From: Jeffrey Parker

Director, Kahului Harbor Coalition

P.O. Box 170

Haiku. HI 96708

Subject: Comments on the Act 2 Pseudo-DEIS

Dear Ms. Kealoha and Mr. Formby,

As you know, our organization believes that the Act 2 is unconstitutional, and its pseudo-EIS does not protect the public trust, and falls far short of a real Chapter 343 EIS under HEPA. Our comments in this letter are made without prejudice to our claim that Act 2 is unconstitutional and that a new EIS compliant with Chapter 343 still must be prepared. The Kahului Harbor Coalition opposes acceptance of this fake EIS.

I. The Act 2 EIS does not comply with HEPA, does not accomplish the recognized purposes of environmental review, and weakens environmental protection in Hawaii.

Our initial comments and the initial comments of other organizations pointed out the many failings of Act 2 and its pseudo-EIS. Both Masako Cordray of KHC and Irene Bowie of Maui Tomorrow told Belt Collins representatives that the EIS would lack legitimacy and would fail to protect the public interest, at a consultation held on March 18 2008. Many others, including myself, made the same points in recorded statements made at the public consultation on March 17, 2008. Yet, nowhere in the DEIS can these comments be found. If unwilling to take this primary issue on, the preparers of the DEIS should have at least included our entire comments and not just a “summary” of our comments. According to the OEQC, the Draft will include “Reproductions of substantive comments received from the consulted parties and the responses to said comments made during the consultation process.” Apparently this was not done. (It is interesting to note that in the summary of the comments of the Maui County Corporation Counsel “challenge constitutionality of Act 2” IS listed as a concern, although the DEIS makes no attempt to answer that concern either.) Future researchers will not be able to know that many people were questioning the very legitimacy of this EIS project from the outset.

a. “No Action Alternative” is meaningless.

The strong foundation upon which Chapter 343 and HEPA are built is non-implementation. The whole point of the environmental review process is to prepare environmental disclosure studies to alert decision-makers to the impacts of a proposed action prior to the implementation of that action. Chapter 343 prohibits the implementation of the project while the environmental studies are being prepared, HRS § 343-5(b),(c). In this pseudo Act 2 DEIS, the action is already implemented, therefore there can be no objective analysis of the No Action Alternative, i.e., what will be the result of not building a large-capacity inters island ferry system. The environmental review process required by HEPA involves among other things, incorporating environmental review “at the earliest practicable time” and a prohibition against implementing the project until the environmental review process has been completed. HAR 11-200-1.

b. Act 2 EIS attempts to restrict challenges.

The Legislature tries to restrict challenges to the acceptance of the bogus EIS by not setting out procedures for challenges such as the 125 day provision for challenges in Chapter 343. Act 2 does not discuss the public’s right to challenge the adequacy of the “EIS”, depriving the public of their ability to assure compliance with the “mandates” of Act 2. In normal environmental review, members of the public have vested rights to the judicial review of the adequacy of any EIS. It is this right to judicial review that assures the integrity of the environmental process. Because Superferry is permitted to operate during the preparation of the “EIS”, all of the procedural harms, including the likely tolerance of actual environmental harm, will occur. If the public cannot challenge the findings of a State environmental document, the outcome is a document which might protect vested interests, cronyism, and at its worst might serve to conceal political corruption. The Legislature and the Governor tried to prevent the possibility of injunctive relief, causing further damage to Hawaii’s environmental law. OEQC cannot possibly join in this charade. This bogus “EIS” must not be accepted.

c. Mitigation Measures in Act 2 EIS are meaningless.

Through Act 2 the Legislature imposes “mitigation” measures in an arbitrary and capricious fashion without the benefit of the EA or EIS whose purpose it is to fashion mitigation measures before a project is implemented. In the DEIS, much of the proposed “mitigation” is simply a recitation of the Governor’s Executive Order (EO). The “mitigation” in the EO was arrived at in some fashion other than the careful and painstaking manner in which mitigation measures are proposed in a real EIS. Because the Superferry is allowed to go ahead and operate, there is no incentive for the DOT or HSF to actually implement any mitigation measures. In a real EIS, with non-implementation and the possibility of injunctive relief, agencies and the developer have real incentive to come up with meaningful mitigation. We can not find any legal requirement in Act 2 for mitigation to actually be implemented. The current situation is further exacerbated by the ongoing economic crises. Even if additional mitigation is identified in this ACT 2 “EIS”, where would the funds for implementation come from?

d. Performance Audit of Act 2 is omitted

The Audit states:

“We also found that the legislation on behalf of the Hawaii Superferry compromised the State’s environmental laws and set a worrisome precedent for future government accommodation that puts the interest of a single business before the State’s environmental, fiduciary, and public safety responsibilities.”

Why are the Performance Audit and its conclusions not incorporated in the “DEIS”? DOT and Belt Collins have failed to take the “hard look” required by Hawaii environmental law.

e. Evidence and expert opinions obtained during 4-week long evidentiary hearing in 2nd Circuit Court on Maui are omitted.

The information obtained during this intense legal proceeding offer the best insight into the risks posed by the Hawaii Superferry if allowed to operate without a valid EIS. Yet, DOT and Belt Collins chose to not utilize this wealth of information. Yet more proof that DOT and Belt Collins failed to take the “hard look” required by Hawaii environmental law. Once again, where is the “hard look”?

II. Consulting Parties Section of DEIS raises questions

Why were the letters of some commenters published in their entirety and others were not? Since it is all done electronically and by the use of pdf files, all of the comment letters could have easily been included in their entirety. What is the process by which organizations were labeled “consulting parties”? What is the purpose of labeling respondents as “consulting parties” when the consulting parties provision of Chapter 343 was deleted by Act 2? One can only conclude that the consulting party designations in this pseudo-EIS are meaningless.

III. PDF format of “DEIS” is cumbersome and difficult to use, making the job of concerned parties reviewing the document unnecessarily difficult.

While we applaud the distribution of the DEIS by compact disk, the pdf format is maddening to use. Cannot perform keyword searches and we cannot copy and paste the DEIS conclusions into our response letters. Most of us commenting are ordinary working people not on salary to review this DEIS. One cannot help but wonder if the format was chosen specifically to make our job more difficult and time-consuming.

IV. Increased risk of alien species transport

The public record is full of rational testimony concerning the increased risk of alien species transport by the Hawaii Superferry (LCIF). Yet neither the DEIS or the “Biological Assessment” makes use of this information. The concern of increased introductions of alien and invasive species through the Harbor was one of the chief reasons the Kahului Harbor Coalition was formed. From the very beginning of the Superferry issue, we have participated at every opportunity for public participation. The very first opportunity to comment was the PUC Hearing regarding the CPCN Permit for the Hawaii Superferry held at Kahului Maui in November of 2004. At that Hearing I said

“The Ferry System will ratchet up the whole alien species issue to dangerous new levels (because now, any new pest species which is established on any island may rapidly be spread to the other islands - but equally important is that the cars, pickup trucks, and vans will potentially travel on every back road, possibly dropping off seeds and eggs wherever they go. Rapid and efficient dispersal to every remote corner of every island is the issue.”

After explaining how HEPA was triggered by 4 different “triggers”, I asked that an EA be required by the PUC, a completely reasonable request since they have the power to require an EA and have done so in other projects in the past.

“This PUC Commission has required environmental review in the past, notably in the East Oahu Transmission Project. The purpose of environmental review is to help you, the decision makers, make a more informed decision. And if there ever were a case for you to require an EA, this is the one.”

The PUC declined to require the EA, despite what they said was “compelling testimony”. (50 out of 51 testifiers asked for an EA or EIS). Later we learned that the Chairman of the PUC, Caldito Calaboso, many months prior to this hearing on Maui, had actually gone to the Legislature and advocated for fast-tracking of the Superferry project. Apparently, the decision to avoid the normal environmental review had already been made.

Representing the Kahului Harbor Coalition, I gave testimony, all of which revolved around the increased alien species risk and the need for environmental analysis that complies with Chapter 343, at these venues:

1. 11-17-2004 - Testimony to the Public Utilities Commission Regarding the Application for a CPCN for Hawaii Superferry, Inc.

2. 2-28-2005 - Senate Bill 1785 Relating to the Superferry - Environmental Impact Statement

3. 3-11-2005 - Maui County Council Resolution Requesting EIS. Here a point I made was:

“Interestingly, the voluminous Superferry PUC Application did not contain a single comment letter from the Dept. of Agriculture, the agency charged with preventing the movement of alien species from island to island.”

4. 3-17-2005 - Testimony to the Humpback Whale Sanctuary Advisory Commission (SAC)

5. 9-05-2004 – Written Comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Kahului Harbor Improvements (with emphasis on the Superferry Proposal)

6. 1-30-07 – Support for HB702, Superferry EIS Bill.

7. 2-27-07 – Support for SB1276, Superferry EIS Bill. Here I said:

“The Hawaii Superferry has the potential to bring rapid changes to each island. And because large amounts of Federal and State money are involved, and because State land is involved, we are entitled to a full Environmental Impact Statement.

As a full-time farmer, I spend much of my time battling new agricultural pest species. There are several devastating pests present in Hawaii which exist on a single island and not on other islands. Examples are the Stinging Nettle Caterpillar on the Big Island, and the Tiny Fire Ant, also on the Big Island. Likewise, there is a new papaya mealy bug which exists only on Maui, and only Oahu has the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter, an insect which, in other parts of the world, transmits a disease that weakens or kills many species of plants and trees.

Agricultural officials in California speak enviously of the protection our deep ocean channels provide each of Hawaii’s counties and islands – as they themselves struggle to stop the spread of newly-introduced dangerous pests over California county lines.

The Superferry may likely ruin our natural barrier to the rapid spread of alien pests throughout our state – unless an E.I.S. proposes meaningful mitigation. The magnitude of this risk must be assessed, and mitigation measures must be proposed BEFORE the Superferry can begin operations. An Environmental Impact Statement and a Risk Assessment will do exactly that.

As the operator of a State-Certified Nursery, I am in frequent contact with DOA Ag Inspectors and officials. Everyone I’ve spoken with agrees that the unmitigated Superferry operation will increase the transfer of pests from island to island, and all share my belief that the “self-inspections” being proposed by the Superferry management will likely not be adequate to minimize these risks.

In addition to our BN/RN Nursery Certification, our nursery is under a “Coqui Frog-Free Certification.” We have been warned that if the Frog shows up on our property, a quarantine will be put in place and we will be banned from shipping our products out of State. This would quickly put us out of business. Each automobile traveling on the Superferry may potentially carry the Frogs or eggs – and these vehicles may quickly transport the eggs to every remote corner of every island. It has already been proven that Coqui eggs can be transported in mud underneath automobiles

There are thousands of workers in Hawaii whose livelihoods depend on agriculture – nursery workers, vegetable and fruit and flower growers, landscapers, horticultural supply houses and farm equipment suppliers. Their jobs could be at risk if the Superferry is allowed to go into operation without an E.I.S. and resulting mitigation measures.”

7. 3-30-06 – Panelist for Superferry Forum sponsored by Pacific Whale Foundation. One of my points here was:

Any informal cooperation to date between the state Department of Agriculture and Hawaii Superferry regarding inspections and alien species introductions is no substitute, as a matter of fact or law, for an EIS prepared pursuant to Hawaii Environmental Policy Act."

We have also attended all Maui meetings of the Superferry Task Force (OTF) and presented testimony

I have also written to, or discussed the need for an EIS by telephone with:

(Partial list)

Sen. J. Kalani English

Sen. Brian Kanno

Sen. Lorraine Inouye

Representative Hermina Morita

Maui County Councilwoman Michelle Anderson

Maui County Councilwoman Charmaine Tavares

Maui County Environmental Coordinator Rob Parsons

Haleakala National Park Supervisor Don Reeser

The Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC)

The Maui News

V. Alien Species issue in Act 2 DEIS

1. Firstly, the EIS should point out that the current level of inspections of the SF is the direct result of citizen action.

Whatever precautions are in place to help prevent the inter-island spread of invasive alien species on the Superferry exist solely as a result of tireless advocacy of citizen groups such as the Kahului Harbor Coalition, Maui Tomorrow, Sierra Club, the Maui Invasive Species Committee, Friends of Haleakala National Park and other concerned citizens. Hawaii Superferry and HDOA initially did not even acknowledge the need for mitigation.

So it is somewhat gratifying now to see that Dr. Howarth in the Alien Species Biological Assessment agrees with what KHC and others have been saying all along:

Operation of the LCIF provides significant new pathways for the inter-island transport of invasive species by facilitating efficient rapid high-volume transportation of passengers, their cars, and personal effects.

“The ability to drive contaminated vehicles and material directly from infested habitats on one island to the LCF and within a few hours drive directly to similar un-invaded habitats on another island poses a special risk.”

“By making interisland transport of plant material quicker and more convenient, the LCIF will significantly add to the risk of moving plant pests inter-island.”

“Smuggling, or the illegal transporting of alien species inter-island, is a special concern, since the convenience, speed of transport, and volume and type of cargo, may facilitate the illegal transport of alien species”

“Such a service (LCIF) adds to the existing risk of movement of harmful invasive species to new islands. Currently, airlines move passengers and cargo and inter-island barge service carries a high volume of commodities and personal effects between the same and additional islands. However, the high transportation costs, security checks, and for barge service, delays limit the type of material shipped between the islands. The LCIF fills a niche in providing more convenient inter-island to individuals and families wishing to travel with their vehicles and personal effects. It is also anticipated that the LCIF will encourage greater volume of diversified agricultural production, resulting in a greater volume of fresh, unprocessed produce that will be shipped inter-island, especially from the outer islands to markets on Oahu. IT is anticipated that fresh produce might suffer less damage from heat during transit (relative to existing barge and airline modes of transportation), which would result in greater chances for survival of any hitchhiking pest species. In addition, military use of the LCIF has not been ruled out for movement of personnel and training equipment between islands. The principle changes in transport involve the higher volume and more rapid movement of personal vehicles, household goods, and agricultural products. As described in the next section, this increase in the flow of certain materials significantly increases the risk of movement and establishment of alien species on new islands.

2. Draft EIS Section 4.3.2 “However, cumulative risks of invasive species introduction and dispersal would be mitigated by implementation of the DOA’s Biosecurity Program, including planned transitional inspection facilities located at the harbors.” DOT refuses to take responsibility for the impacts that result from its projects and instead passes the buck to HDOA. HDOA will now say that funds are lacking for these facilities.

3. HDOA has known that State-of-the-art Invasive Species Interdiction Facilities are needed at the harbors since at least 1998. Why are these facilities not completed and in use today? The cost of these facilities is estimated at between $2 million and $3 million each.

a. The Biological Opinion issued for the Kahului Airport Expansion by the US Fish and Wildlife Service identifies Kahului Harbor as the second main portal (or pathway) for the entry of invasive species into Maui. (The first being Kahului Airport) One of the outcomes of the Kahului Airport case was that we now have a State-of-the-art Invasive Species Interdiction Facility – not only a model for the State but a model for the entire country. Since HDOA learned that the Harbor is the number 2 pathway for the entry of invasive pests, HDOA also realized the need for a similar facility at the Harbor.

b. The recommendations in the Alien Species Biological Assessment (Howarth, et al) concur: “Collaborate with HDOA and HDOT to improve quarantine protocols and develop improved quarantine facilities at each harbor in accordance with State laws and rules” However, no hint is given as to how this collaboration will be facilitated, or how these improvements might be funded, etc.

4. DOT monies may be used to fund increased alien species efforts at the Harbor

One of the outcomes of the Kahului Airport controversy and settlements was that DOT CAN use Airport Special Funds to build Alien Species Interdiction Facility and hire additional Inspectors and Dog Teams for the Airport. This sets a precedent whereby DOT may indeed fund the Interdiction Facility and additional inspectors and dog teams for the Harbor. This is only fair, since it is the projects backed by DOT, such as the Hawaii Superferry, that will exacerbate the problem (of increased alien species introductions through the Harbor).

5. Instead, DOT squandered $40 million on unnecessary barges

In 2006 and 2007, KHC spent a lot of time on the shipbuilder Austal’s

website – looking over the specifications of virtually every large capacity ferry they had built. We were struck by the fact that most of these vessels were constructed with telescoping variable-height stern ramps for the unloading of vehicles. And because of the contract the State had put out for the construction of the barges, and other research we did, we learned that the Alakai was being built without the stern ramps.

At a public meeting on Feb. 21, 2007, SF’s Terry O’halloran refused to answer why the Alakai did not have the stern ramps that most other Austal ferries have. CEO Garibaldi was also present and could have answered.

Now we learn from the audit conducted by State Auditor Marion Higa, which was required by Act 2, that Staff in the department's harbors division had thought before the meeting between Bob Awana and Superferry executives that the department's recommendations were to require a statewide environmental assessment of the project and to get Superferry to install a quarter stern ramp on the vessel to give it more flexibility at Kahului Harbor on Maui.

But Superferry executives, according to an account by a department staffer, told the state that anything but an exemption was a deal-breaker and that they would not be installing any ramps. The department staffer explained what happened to her colleagues in an e-mail following the afternoon meeting at the governor's offices: "Decisions made: We need to pursue EIS EXEMPTION; and HSF will NOT provide any ramps on vessel." E-mail between department staff, obtained by The Advertiser through the state's open-records law, shows that staff believed a significant decision had been made at that meeting with Superferry executives and Awana.

Staff in the department's harbors division had thought before the meeting that the department's recommendations were to require a statewide environmental assessment of the project and to get Superferry to install a quarter stern ramp on the vessel to give it more flexibility at Kahului Harbor on Maui. But Superferry executives, according to an account by a department staffer, told the state that anything but an exemption was a deal-breaker and that they would not be installing any ramps. The department staffer explained what happened to her colleagues in an e-mail following the afternoon meeting at the governor's offices: "Decisions made: We need to pursue EXEMPTION; and HSF will not provide any ramps on vessel."

And finally from the State Auditor Report: “We found that with the impending arrival of Hawai'i Superferry, Inc., the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2004 and 2005 reversed a long-standing policy of not providing additional pier-side equipment for harbor users. State officials ignored the recommendations of their technical staff, setting off a chain of events that culminated in the selection of inadequate harbor improvement systems. Moreover, the DOT’s passive approach to the issue of addressing secondary or cumulative
effects was made possible by a combination of flawed or unclear EIS laws and rules.”

The public has the right to know, why did the SF refuse to install the ramps and why did the State cave in so quickly. It is our $40 million that was unnecessarily spent. All this should be covered in the Act 2 EIS. The public has a right to know.

6. A proper and lawful EIS would have publicized the need for Interdiction Facilities and increased harbor inspections prior to implementation of the project.

Irreparable harm is likely occurring at this very moment, because project is allowed to run without mitigation in place. There is now no incentive for a reluctant HDOA and HDOT to move quickly on the Interdiction Facilities or any additional mitigation such as increased personnel and dogs at the harbors. This is a prime example of why HEPA and Chapter 343 provide such good environmental protection for the public, and an after-the-fact “EIS” like the Act 2 “EIS” does not.

7. Non-expert administrators of HDOA are in conflict with experts.

Non-expert administrators of Hawaii Department of Agriculture hold a conviction, and are on the record all over the place, that “if a pest species gets to one island, then it is inevitable that it will get to all the islands.” This conviction is in conflict with your very own experts (i.e. Dr. Howarth) and virtually every commenter on Alien Species in the DEIS. If it is “inevitable” that pest species will get to all other islands, why does Dr. Howarth go to great links to study and elucidate the transport of alien invasive species and make several recommendations to prevent the spread of alien species inter-island? If it is “inevitable” that pest species will get to all other islands, why do the Field Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Superintendent of Volcanoes National Park, the Pacific Area Director of the National Park Service, the Kauai Invasive Species Committee, the Oahu Invasive Species Committee, the Maui Invasive Species Committee, the Project Leader of the USGS Pacific Island Research Center, all elucidate the unique threat posed by the LCIF operation and offer many recommendations to prevent the spread of alien species inter-island?

The DEIS should include a section discussing how the non-expert administrators of HDOA position on the transport of invasive species is at conflict with virtually every expert in the field.

8. Section 7 consultation pursuant to the Endangered Species Act should occur for all threatened and endangered species which may be affected by the proposal.

Alien invasive species may harm threatened and endangered species within Hawaii’s national parks and elsewhere. The Superintendent of Volcanoes National Parks, and many others, have requested a Section 7 Consultation. Conspicuously missing from the pseudo-EIS is a discussion of the Section 7 Consultation process. DOT and Hawaii Superferry have gone out of their way to NOT consult with Federal agencies. Moreover, Act 2 attempts to prevent Federal/State cooperation, by bringing the review process to an early artificial end, and prohibiting Supplementation.

9. Offers of assistance to manage the alien species problem are apparently ignored.

The field supervisor of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu wrote to Belt Collins and said “The Service considers the spread of non-native invasive species to be a major threat to threatened and endangered species and other trust resources because of their potential to become established and alter the existing terrestrial or aquatic ecosystem.” “A more significant vector for spread of invasive species that should be addressed in the DEIS is the Hawaii Superferry.” “Management actions to prevent and control the introduction and spread of invasive species, need to be incorporated in your proposed action. These management activities should emphasize reducing the risk associated with pathways (e.g. construction equipment, personal protective equipment, delivery services, foot traffic, vehicles/vessels, shipping materials, and the transport of plant materials. We can assist you in providing procedures for disinfection, pest-free storage, monitoring methods, evaluation techniques, and general guidelines for structural integrated pest management.”

Did Belt Collins, DOT, or the preparers of the “Biological Assessment” seek assistance from USFW?

10. Belt Collins and DOT ignore important information presented at OTF meetings.

While the number of dangerous new pests that might be transported on the Superferry is large (Coqui Frogs, Stinging Nettle Caterpillar, Light Brown Apple Moth, Orchid Midge, Varroa Mite, Aquarium Snail, etc.), none is more terrifying than the Tiny Fire Ant (Wasmannia auropunctata). This ant is already established on the Big Island and a population has been found on Kauai. The Tiny Fire Ant, if allowed to spread, will destroy agriculture in Hawaii and will likely alter the quality of life for every resident and visitor.

Representatives of Belt Collins and HDOA were present at the Maui Superferry OTF meeting held in August of 2008, when farmer Masako Cordray Westcott made the following presentation:

“We now need to look at the danger posed by the Little Fire Ant (Wasmannia auropunctata). This tiny ant, native to central and south America is now established in west Africa, Florida and many places in the Pacific including Tuvalu, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Tahiti, Galapagos and now Hawai’i. Its spectacular success – developing quickly into massive colonies and displacing native species – is so striking it has been termed by biologists the Pan Pacific explosion.

First found in Puna in 1999, it has spread to Mt View, Kalapana, Hilo and Hamakua. There are now more than 50 infestations covering several hundred acres on Hawaii island as well as populations on Kaua’i at Kalihiwai and Kilauea.

The Little Fire Ant (LFA) is a voracious omnivore and nests both on the ground and in trees. Its painful bite leaves welts that last for days and in rare cases causes anaphylactic shock. Its bite has caused permanent blindness in cats, dogs and cattle. In Africa it has blinded lions and elephants. In the Galapagos, adult tortoises have been blinded and fledglings killed. In Hawaii, nene chicks have been killed by the LFA. People are being bitten in their homes in Hilo. In New Caledonia there are places where people will not put babies down on the ground. In Papua entire villages have been abandoned because infestations were so severe. In Brazil there are extremely high densities in sugar cane plantations. There are forest areas in the Solomons where people cannot walk because the ants rain down on them.

This habit of dropping from trees when disturbed is one of the horrors of farming in LFA infested areas. Coffee industries were destroyed in the Galapagos and New Caledonia where it was a major part of the economy. It was impossible to get people to pick the coffee because of the biting ants. Clearly Hawaii’s coffee industry is in jeopardy. Already in Hamakua, two fruit farms have shut down because of the LFA.

Geneticists have established that the original colony in Puna in 1999 consisted of one queen and one male. Only nine years later the population is massive and its range is extensive. This highlights how easily the LFA can be moved between the islands and new colonies inadvertently established. We must be alert to plants and soil but must also consider the vehicle itself and almost anything put into it. The list of possibilities is long.

I am here today to ask you to pass a recommendation establishing a study group of quarantine and invasive species experts that would include HDOA and Invasive Species committee representatives from each county and LFA researchers and experts like Glenn Taniguchi, Tommy Thompson and Pat Conant. This group will establish protocols for the HSF to prevent the movement of the LFA between the islands. These protocols must be in place before the commencement of service to Hawai’i Island or Kaua’i. Additionally, this study group will establish a rapid response team responsible for the eradication of incipient populations.

By coincidence today in Honolulu, the USDA, HDOA and various invasive species agencies are conducting a simulation of a Red Imported Fire Ant infestation to develop protocols for a rapid response. These very people and this experience should be involved in developing the procedures I am calling for.

The LFA is the catastrophic introduction we all feared. We are facing a crisis of extinction, economic disaster and a transformation of our way of life.

HSF is certainly not the only way for the LFA to move between the islands. But an honest evaluation will acknowledge that HSF increases and accelerates the risks.”

Ms. Westcott was contacted by officials of HDOA and told that they would indeed be acting on her recommendations. Yet, not a word of this most important aspect of the alien species impacts of the Superferry was mentioned in the “DEIS” (Once again, Belt Collins was aware of all of this). And not a subsequent word has been heard from HDOA about the formation of the “study group” requested by Ms. Westcott. The “DEIS” should have included an in-depth analysis of the Tiny Fire Ant threat, Ms. Westcott’s testimony, and a response from HDOA with proposed mitigation. If the Superferry had been prevented from operating until a lawful EIS was completed, there would have been incentive for fast action by HDOT,HDOA and Hawaii Superferry to set up the Tiny Fire Ant Study Group. Description of Tiny Fire Ant threat in of the “DEIS” is woefully inadequate.

11. The description of the Coqui Frog threat in omits main relative point.

This paragraph neglects to mention that it has already been proven that Coqui Frogs and their eggs can be transported on the undercarriages of automobiles.

12. Cleaning apparatus at terminal facilities.

In initial comments and in public comments at the many meetings held throughout the State over the past 4 years, the need for an undercarriage pressure wash system at terminal facilities was pointed out repeatedly. Maui Invasive Species Committee, Oahu Invasive Species Committee, Kauai Invasive Species Committee, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service all recommended versions of this idea. Yet in Section the “DEIS” says “While an undercarriage pressure wash system, a vacuum cleaner, and a pressure wash hose at each terminal facility may improve cleaning procedures, they are not recommended because of constraints on space and water, the management of environmental concerns at the harbors, and the implications it would represent on other operators. Additional studies would be needed to recommend these cleaning procedures…..”

Firstly, if a proper EIS with non-implementation had been done, it would have been easy to include, and there would have been incentive to include, these wash facilities into the harbor layouts and Superferry Operational Plan. Secondly, the passage in the “DEIS”; “Additional studies would be needed to recommend these cleaning procedures” is puzzling to us, since Act 2 attempts to prohibit Supplementation (Supplemental EIS’s).

The undercarriage pressure wash system would probably have been the single most effective measure to help mitigate the new and unique risks of alien species transport (with which everyone agrees) posed by the Hawaii Superferry operation.

VI. “Unresolved Issues” and Conclusion of Alien Species Comments

In a real EIS, “unresolved issues” cannot be left unresolved unless there is an explanation of how these issues will be resolved or what overriding reasons there are for commencing the project without resolving the issues. Belt Collins has not done this, and no “overriding reasons” exist why the unresolved issues remain unresolved

By leaving the issue of the transport of alien species inter-island as an “unresolved issue”, it means that DOT and DOA are not going to do anything and they are going to allow the Superferry to spread alien species all over the State.

VI. Socio-economics: State costs of the Hawaii Superferry operation.

Discussion of costs passed on to tax payers, harbor users, and consumers is conspicuously missing from the DEIS. DOT is fond of saying that the costs of harbor improvements to facilitate the Hawaii Superferry will be covered by increased harbor fees to other harbor users. The obvious conclusion of those paying attention is that if harbor costs are increased for say, Young Brothers barge service and Matson shipping, then those increased costs will be passed along to the consumers. The price of every consumer item arriving through the harbor will naturally increase. The public has been kept from knowing that they themselves are subsidizing the Hawaii Superferry operation – a privately owned, out-of-state corporation. Everyone knows about the ill-spent $40 million on the completely unnecessary loading barges. (See V., #5 above). However there are many other costs which are steadily rising with no end in sight. These include at least another $5 million for items such as environmental studies, unanticipated tug-boat services, the “rapid risk assessment”, security, etc.

Still to come or hush hush, are the millions for the new mooring system, the costs of the four-year legal battle, the cost of convening a special legislative session, public meetings and a state auditor’s investigation. And there are many more costs, one of which is the State's interest payments of about $2,000,000/year on the $40,000,000 state issued general obligation reimbursable bonds. Governor Lingle recently issued emergency orders to control and reduce State government expenditures. The state budget director is forecasting a billion-dollar shortfall in revenues through 2011 and we’re told the 2009 Legislature will need to make tough decisions. Already depleted resources for the state library system have been trimmed by another $1.2 million and community clinics that provide basic health care services to low-income and uninsured residents are under-funded. Leaving these important issues out of the Socio-economic section of the DEIS is unacceptable.

VII. Incorporation of other comments by reference

The Kahului Harbor Coalition hereby incorporates by reference all other comments submitted on this DEIS.

VIII. Conclusion of Kahului Harbor Coalition comments on “DEIS”

Act 2 itself states that the EIS “shall not be merely self serving”, shall “take into account all critiques”, and “fulfills the definition of an EIS”. The “DEIS” is self-serving, has not yet taken into account all critiques, and in no way fulfills the definition of an EIS.

Ms. Kealoha, you and your agency OEQC have a constitutional duty to “conserve and protect Hawaii’s natural beauty and all natural resources, including land, water, air, minerals, and energy sources.” OEQC, like other State agencies, has public trust responsibilities to members of the public, including our organization, to “conserve and protect” Hawaii’s unique environment.

Through ill-advised actions of the Legislature and the Governor (Act 2), great damage has been done to Chapter 343 and Hawaii’s environmental protection laws. The only way to restore what has been lost is to withdraw this “DEIS” (through non-acceptance) and begin a new proper EIS subject to Chapter 343. If OEQC accepts this fake “EIS”, OEQC will violate Article XI, Section 1 of the Hawaii Constitution. We are optimistic that OEQC will not go along with this travesty.


Jeffrey Parker


Kahului Harbor Coalition

No comments: