The purpose of this bill is to temporarily exempt 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.
OEQC testified that their concerns focus primarily on the aspects that directly impact Chapter 343 HRS, the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act as its office is responsible by law to administer the environmental review requirements governing Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements.
OEQC further noted that this measure is unnecessary and because of its ambiguities, omissions and conflicting purposes will cause confusion in the manner in which Chapter 343 is interpreted and administered, which would as a result, lead to an increase in future lawsuits against the State of Hawaii; case in point, the Sierra Club notes that on multiple occasions agencies in Hawaii failed to conduct an environmental review until legal challenges were filed (Koa Ridge, Superferry, Kahului Airport, etc.).
According to those in opposition, there is now in place an established procedure which already provides a straight forward, easy to implement exemption list process for actions/projects that are likely to have no or negligible environmental impacts.
Those in opposition also noted that projects that are expected to have a significant impact cannot and should not be exempted, and under the present law are required to complete at the minimum an Environmental Assessment; blanket exemptions assume all similar actions have equal impacts, which is a key false premise upon which these proposals listed in the bill are based.
Contact: repthielen@ capitol.hawaii.gov Excerpt from Capitol TV