Blaming Lingle For Ferry Debacle

Rick Hamada
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Wednesday - October 24, 2007

The following is a statement from state Sen. Gary Hooser, the most vocal critic of the Hawaii Superferry in the Legislature, responding to an opinion differing from his:

“The reason our state is in the difficult position it is in today with regard to the Hawaii Superferry, is because the DOT (Department of Transportation) tried to shortcut the public review process and refused to listen and act on community sentiment that was solidly based in existing law.”

Note the entire blame for this debacle lies at the feet of Gov. Linda Lingle and the state Department of Transportation. Sen. Hooser would like you to believe the Lingle Administration screwed everything up. Other critics are attempting to characterize proponents of the ferry as whale killers and environmental molesters. There has been much made of the vessels themselves. Opponents are crying foul that the ferry will travel too fast, invasive species will infiltrate their ecosystem and the fuel consumption and associated pollution will throw our environment into the abyss of global warming. The circumstances are so dire, it reminds me of Bill Murray in Ghostbusters telling the mayor of New York City of impending doom signaled by the release of ghostly spirits into the city, “Dogs and cats living together ... MASS HYSTERIA!!”

Just as the movie Ghostbusters is fantasy, so is the notion that the Lingle Administration is responsible for the Superferry controversy. As a matter of fact, if any legislator wants to point a finger of blame, it had better be seen as a reflection in a mirror.

In July 1994, two Senate committees considered Senate Resolution 79 (SR79). The measure’s title read, “EXPRESSING SUPPORT FOR HAWAII SUPERFERRY INC. AND REQUESTING EXPEDITIOUS ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESSING OF NECESSARY PERMITS.”

In everyday language, these senators were in favor of the Superferry and not only supported the project, but they were requesting a speeding up of the bureaucratic process. The introducers of this resolution, readily identified as those expressing more strident support, include former state Sens. Cal Kawamoto and Sen. Melodie Aduja, state Sens. Roz Baker and Lorraine Inouye (both from Neighbor Islands) and lo and behold, Hooser.

The SR79 contains the following statements:

“The vessels that will be used by the Hawaii Superferry Inc. are environmentally friendly.

“The Hawaii Superferry Inc. vessels will use the cleanest and most energy-efficient marine engines in the world and will exceed the strict new 2007 EPA emissions requirements and burn fuel 100 times cleaner than conventional ships ...

“... the Hawaii Superferry Inc. whale avoidance policy is 500 percent stricter than required by the National Humpback Whale Sanctuary with routes concentrated in deep waters where less than 1 percent of whales congregate; its routes are changed during whale seasons, and dedicated whale lookouts and technology are used to avoid the few whales in the deep waters ...

“... the Legislature supports the efforts of Hawaii Superferry Inc. to establish an interisland fast ferry service ...

“... the Department of Transportation is requested to assist in the expeditious planning and implementation of the fast ferry service ...”

SR79 was adopted April 16, 2004.

It is curious that the Legislature is contemplating an investigation into the Lingle administration for its role in the Superferry drama.

Oh, by the way, who is one of the voices chiming in supporting an investigation? Hooser. This begs the question, “Who will investigate the investigators?”

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