Goodbye Hawaii Environmental Law

SOURCE: Shannon Rudolph (
SUBHEAD: The proposed bill SB 755 will exempt state construction projects from following environmental regulation.  

By Gary Hooser on 1 April 2012 for Environmental Quality Control -  

Image above: Morning rush hour along H-1 in Honolulu on Oahu. From (
Going to be a long day tomorrow. At 5pm the House Finance Committee hearing will begin. That usually means a late evening. SB755HD2 that purports to exempt State construction activity from various public interest and environmental protections is being heard.
Part 1 |The purpose of this Act is to promote economic development by temporarily removing regulatory restrictions to the expeditious construction of certain state and county projects. The legislature finds that the economic recovery has not been robust. One strategy to promote economic revitalization is by way of capital expenditures on public infrastructure projects. This strategy will generate jobs and infuse dollars into the local economy. Additionally, the public infrastructure constructed will benefit the general public.
Part II Temporarily (until 2015) exempts airport structures and improvements from the special management area permit and shoreline setback variance requirements when the structures and improvements are necessary to comply with FAA regulations.
Part III Temporarily (until 2015) authorizes the department of land and natural resources and department of transportation, with the approval of the governor, to exempt department projects from the special management area permit and shoreline setback variance requirements.
Part IV Exempts all work involving submerged lands used for state commercial harbor purposes from any permit and site plan review requirements for lands in the conservation district.
Part V Temporarily (until 2015) authorizes a more streamlined process for exempting state and county projects from the environmental review process of chapter 343, HRS, and reduces the deadline for challenging the lack of an environmental assessment for a state or county project.
As the Director of Environmental Quality Control I will be offering testimony in strong opposition as this is not an environmentally friendly measure and has the potential of setting very bad precedents for Chapter 343 (Environmental Impact Statement law).

Read the Bill here and make up your own mind. In any case...get involved please. Read the Bill, make up your own mind and then submit testimony in your own words. And SHARE with your facebook friends. This is important. Read the history of the measure, the votes and other peoples testimony here on the "status sheet"...but IGNORE materials prior to January 2012 as the Bill was changed since that time into what it is today. (

Measure Status:
( See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Gutting Environmental Protection 1/23/12

What is Neal Abercrombie?

SUBHEAD: A measured look at the Hawaii Governor. Who have we got here?

 By Reed Flickinger on 1 April 2012 for Hawaii Today -  
When Gov. Neil Abercrombie shows up, the first question asked is “which Abercrombie is here today?”

Abercrombie is a polished and consummate politician. By his own accounting, he has matriculated through 40 or more election cycles. This old campaigner knows all the tricks, from public persuasion to private positioning.

When the governor came before the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce on Thursday in what has become something of an annual appearance, he was playing to the audience. Those in attendance got a new Neil.

Abercrombie Thursday was a different animal from the man who campaigned here several years ago, as he sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination from voters. That Abercrombie was sensitive to labor, currying favor and support for his candidacy. He was essence of liberal policies, keen to protect the environment, aware of cultural concerns and ready to please those Democratic Party voters who saw his opponent, Mufi Hannemann, as the candidate who pledged to take a no-nonsense business approach to the Capitol.

How times change.
Or is it audiences?

Thursday the Neil Abercrombie who played in Kona was a tough-talking, union-challenging, pro-business, anti-activism, red tape-cutting kind of guy. Or at least that was the persona he put forward for the eager crowd he played to at the Keauhou Beach Resort.

Remember, this is the same governor who last year publicly spoke against raising the state’s general excise tax, but who, according to several legislators, privately told them: Raise it.
Which is it? Which Neil? Which direction?

To the Kona business community, Abercrombie first took the traditional political approach: Outline the fiscal mess you inherited, then show how you have turned everything around. Abercrombie’s mess, he said, was a $200 million to $250 million deficit “and one year later we had a $126 million balance.”

He said he “held off” on CIP projects for the first 20 months of his term, holding the fiscal line. And he refinanced $500 million of existing debt at a 2.2 percent rate. Then, because of the state’s improved fiscal standing, had $4.3 billion offers for a $1.3 billion bond and he sought a premium and got $100 million in savings to “pay bills from the Hurricane Relief fund and the rainy day fund so those could be returned,” though that has actually yet to occur.

Abercrombie rattled off fiscal responsibility, some of it his doing, some an improving visitor industry. He talked about Hawaii’s debt and its relatively small population, yet he didn’t mention our more than 6 million annual visitors who come here and pay general excise taxes, rental car and transient accommodations taxes and many more fees. State revenues and revenue projections overall have improved and are improving.

China, Abercrombie said, was a market of 300 million potential visitors to Hawaii, a destination he said should be pitched as the Hawaiian Islands, and subject not only to direct flights but also visa waivers. He then touted his time in Washington and its correlated connections to the State Department, Armed Services Committee, Leon Panetta and finally Barack Obama as an entry way to achieve a visa waiver “demonstration project in Hawaii.”

On a roll, Abercrombie then said the Thirty Meter Telescope project atop Mauna Kea “will move forward. There will be no more obstruction from someone who found their cultural roots six minutes ago.”

The governor also said there should be “hookup between the Thirty Meter Telescope and the university campus at Palamanui,” which, while sounding wonderful and practical, is absurd, since the Palamanui institution will be a community college, not a university, and is separate from the University of Hawaii. Not to mention the political forces at UH-Hilo would not relinquish any aspect or prospective addition to its astronomy quiver. Abercrombie’s comments did, however, go a long way toward continuing the community misconceptions and false expectations regarding the campus in Kona.

He also revisited the past, which he experienced, as he renewed the late 1960s and 1970s call for as much as 1,000 megawatts of geothermal production on the Big Island, as well as the interisland cable. “Geothermal is just fabulous and the whole key to renewable energy is the Big Island, but we cannot think of it without the cable.”

Geothermal opponents from the past, he said, “have examined geothermal and have seen the light.”
Abercrombie then leaned further to the right and addressed environmental laws, sounding particularly and uncharacteristically conservative. Moving projects forward, in light of environmental laws, is important, but he said he “helped write some of those laws” and “they are not meant to stop things.” “Historic preservation (laws) never meant ‘I don’t like it so I’m going to stop it.’”

He spoke of his quest for authority to move past “pseudo-environmental” and cultural issues to fast-track things, adding “if you don’t approve, throw me out of office; I am accountable.” He then took a strong right jab at due process and a long stride from constitutional balance of powers and said he’d like to throw some of the environmental and cultural opponents of projects “out of court.”

Abercrombie, citing proudly his former union organizing and work with the AFL-CIO, then took issue with the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s leadership and the floundering contract negotiations between the teachers and the state, claiming their key issue is over his constitutional authority.

This was a different Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat sounding particularly conservative and Republican in tone. But he was aware of the group he was addressing. His message might change next week, were he to be speaking to the Sierra Club or membership of the Hawaii Government Employees Association. It makes for interesting times, wondering what he will come up with next, and which Neil Abercrombie we will be hearing from.

After the election, many former union supporters were heard openly asking, “Who is this guy? It isn’t the guy we heard campaigning.”

It’s the new Neil, remade at every turn — and with every audience.
The bigger question, however, is not who he is, rather what we ultimately will see as an end product?

1 comment :

  1. I believe there has always been one and only one Neil Abercrombie, an uncouth and dishonest person who crawled, scratched and inflicted injury on his way through politics.