Thursday, February 19, 2009

Update on bill SB 989 regarding Act 2

SB 989 was deferred with no action and no new hearing scheduled for now. The testimony submitted for today's hearing is not posted yet, but quite a few people indicated to me they sent in written testimony. It was probably more than the committee would expect in that situation. After Chad's article yesterday it also garnered print media attention again today. A little bit interesting article here on it...mentioning 'the blogs'. At the bottom of this post is another person's good written testimony on SB 989 regarding Act 2. The rest of today's written testimony will probably be posted at the official site later.

Here is the official report:
Hawaii State Legislature
2009 Regular Session

Report Title: Transportation; Environmental Impact Statement
Description: Extends the sunset date of Act 2, Second Special Session Laws of Hawaii 2007, from the forty-fifth day following adjournment sine die of the Regular Session of 2009 to the forty-fifth day following adjournment sine die of the Regular Session of 2010.
Companion: HB1171
Package: Gov
Current Referral: ENE/TIA, JGO
Introducer(s): HANABUSA (BR)

Status Text
2/17/2009SThe committee(s) on ENE deferred the measure until 02-19-09 2:45 PM in conference room 225.
2/18/2009SThe committee(s) on TIA deferred the measure until 02-19-09 2:45pm in conference room 225.
2/19/2009SThe committee on TIA deferred the measure.
2/19/2009SThe committee on ENE deferred the measure.

Written testimony today from Hope Kallai of Kauai:

Aloha Committee Members: I respectfully request that you reject SB989. There are many problems with the original Act 2 SSSLH 2007 and it should not be extended. The Hawaii Superferry is not in full compliance with the original Act:

  1. A-1 No NMFS observers have been collecting whale data. The HSF maintains no observers were available yet the over 260 long-line tuna fishing trips were observed by NMFS observers in Hawaii in 2007. Act 2 A-1 requests that the NMFS observers currently reside in Hawaii. This geographic exclusivity is not a legal hiring criteria for federal hiring practices and is probably in violation of OSHA. Due to the scientific data collection criteria, these tasks are not appropriate for crew members to perform.
  2. A-2 The whales and waters of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary have not been avoided. Master of the Vessel logs submitted to the legislature through the Oversight Task Force Minutes and Reports document some extremely close encounters with whales, one at 31 knots. Route decisions must include whale safety and honor the protection of the management objectives of the sanctuary. Perhaps better data review and/or aerial surveys would help avoid areas of high densities of whales, possibly incorporating whale watching boat and tourist helicopter sightings through sanctuary data collection.
  3. A-3 In addition to whatever whale lookouts the company may post, two NMFS observers are required. Most able bodied seamen (AB) are not qualified wildlife biologists and cannot be expected to add data collection and statistical reports as part of their job duties.
  4. A-4 The recommended 500 meter whale avoidance distance has not been honored. The HIHWNMS recommended 100 yard distance has been violated on many occasions. This is whale harassment and must be considered for the overall impact to a reproductive population of endangered species.
  5. A-5 Radar is not being used. Bow mounted night vision glasses are being implemented because the crew members were getting tired. Un-tested technology is being relied upon during night time conditions. Whale avoidance mitigation measures are not successful, yet night and low-light trips are being allowed throughout protected waters. Perhaps if qualified wildlife biologists were being used, they would bring the appropriate field equipment.
  6. A-6 Whale observers should be documenting whale behavior, not the Master of the Vessel (captain). Captain’s reports should include vessel speed, weather, route, etc. NMFS whale observers’ data should include on whale behavior, numbers, age class and other important biological data and the whale’s response to the boat. The data must go to qualified marine mammal experts at NMFS and the HIHWNMS, not the Director of Transportation and the Chairperson of the Board of Natural Resources.
  7. A-7 Most crew members are not avian biologists specializing in Endangered Species and Migratory Birds, their identification and the applicable laws. Perhaps NMFS observers can be used or USFWS observers. These are protected birds and must be given full consideration under federal and international laws.
  8. B-1, B-2 The DEIS, as prepared, has conflicting information. Modifications of the second ship, A616, have changed the water source ability and the destination of the wastewater. Onboard wastewater treatment is a significant alteration of these criteria. These modifications need to be addressed in a Supplemental EIS.
  9. C-3 Traffic alone cannot determine the timing of the Superferry departures. Wise and informed biological information must be considered, and the long-range priorities of the state.
  10. D-1, D-2 A better security plan is required for the safety of passengers and the overall environment of the state. More security should be required than just off-duty cops controlling traffic. An integrated fire suppression plan needs to be developed.
  11. E-1, E-2 Agricultural screenings have never been 100%. Screening still allowed dirty truck transport. Screeners can only request to check luggage, coolers and vehicles, not the person. Anything that can be carried on the body, in pockets, can be brought on the ship and transported to another island. DoA screeners need to be present every voyage, like at the airport.
  12. E-4 Advance notification will only affect a certain percentage of the population. Notification is not prevention, nor does it obviate the kuleana.
  13. E-5 Dirty is in the eye of the beholder and is subjective. Dark and low-light inspections will not reveal the same as day light inspections. Many invasive species cautions are extremely small and will not be visibly found at an inspection.
  14. E-6 The living plants and propagative plant parts and roots criteria is confusing. Can ginger root be transported? Bought ginger and olena? How about Kahili ginger (an invasive species seriously affecting Koke`e habitats)? Would the employee be able to tell the difference? The intention is understandable, but application and enforcement is confusing.
  15. E-16 Disposal of confiscated pests and plants needs to be addressed.
  16. E-18 This criteria needs to include federal authorities, officials, agents or contractors. This serious omission needs immediate correction to facilitate accountability of the HSF to the US Coast Guard.
  17. F-2, F-3 Transportation of any live aquatic or marine organism needs serious consideration. Freshwater Tahitian prawns are suspected as being able to host the rat lungworm nematode and extremely cautionary measures need to be taken to prevent the spread of this potentially deadly meningitis disease.
  18. F-4, F-6 Perhaps the state or counties are not the appropriate ones to make cultural recommendations. These criteria might be more respectful if a culturally appropriate person or organization provided the information, not a government agency.
  19. Does the non transport of logs and limbs refer to cultural objects such as kala`au or lomi sticks?
  20. G-1 Are special agricultural transport rates or tariffs allowable over a non-Jones Act compliant vessel (loading barge Manaiakalani)? Is this really in the public need and consistent with the stated objectives of the company? Would this take re-application to the PUC?
  21. G-2 This company is not in compliance with the Rapid Risk Assessment. This company has not made information available on a timely basis as stated in the Auditor’s Report and as mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. They have not applied for the Incidental Take Permit (ITP) and Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) as stated in the DEIS. They are not in compliance and must not be treated as such.

Thank you in advance for considering these serious implications to extending this flawed Act 2 and unanimously rejecting it.

Hope Kallai

Aloha, Brad

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