Friday, March 27, 2009

JoAnn Yukimura: It's more than just the letter of the EIS law




Following the law in the first place would have spared the Hawaii Superferry, government and the community all the expense and agony we have gone through. Yes, there would have still been conflict and differences of opinion, but they would have played out within the procedures set forth in the EIS law.

Those may seem onerous and expensive, but not half as expensive as Superferry's arrogant journey has caused to date for all involved. If the Superferry had followed the EIS law from the beginning, it would probably be operating free of any lawsuits today. Unfortunately, the EIS law requires only disclosure of impacts and mitigating measures. It should, but does not, require the decision-maker to stop the Superferry based on negative impacts.

The Superferry refused to follow even this weak law because it saw itself as "above the law." The governor and the majority of lawmakers who took oaths to uphold the constitution and state laws helped the Superferry avoid the law. Thank God the Hawai'i Supreme Court understands its role in the separation of powers and checks and balances set forth in our federal and state constitutions. When we do not follow the rule of law, we weaken ourselves. If we do not follow the law, what is there to keep order and credibility?

The Supreme Court has given us a chance to restore our confidence in the constitution and our system of government. Real credibility and trust (pono) will come when government, in resolving this issue, effectively addresses the negative impacts of the Superferry.

JoAnn Yukimura
Lihu'e, Kaua'i

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