Friday, November 2, 2007

Superferry Still Facing Hurdles

Superferry Still Facing Hurdles

By Andrew Pereira

After a special legislative session to save the Hawaii Superferry wrapped up Wednesday the company must still jump several hurdles before setting sail for Maui and Kauai.

Isaac Hall, the attorney representing Superferry opponents says once the state files a motion with Maui Judge Joseph Cardoza to lift an injunction against the use of Kahului Harbor, he would file a memorandum with the court in opposition.

"We will definitely be opposing the dissolution of the injunction on a number of grounds…including the ground that the act that was just passed (by the legislature) is unconstitutional," said Hall, who represents Maui Tomorrow.

It usually takes eighteen days for a motion to be heard by the court, but Hall expects the state will ask that the hearing be expedited.

"We would probably object to shortening the time for the hearing," he said from his Wailuku office.

Governor Lingle meanwhile is hoping to ease tensions and hurt feelings among Superferry opponents on Maui and Kauai, after the legislature passed the bill Wednesday that allows the Superferry to operate while an Environmental Impact Statement is prepared.

"I think I have a very important role to play now," said the governor. "I'll be on Kauai in the coming weeks as well as Maui for other speeches and other meetings there, so I'll be talking with a lot of those citizens on those islands."

Lingle also plans to meet with the mayors of Kauai and Maui as well as members of the county councils and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. "(OHA) supported the Superferry going back into service while the EIS is being performed but they said they had some issues they want to discuss," the governor said.

The Superferry bill passed by lawmakers is still awaiting the governor's signature to become law but Lingle says she will sign it soon. The bill specifies certain conditions the Superferry must follow to protect against whale strikes and invasive species.

The governor also has the leeway to impose additional restrictions on the company. "I need to determine whether there are additional conditions that I'm going to impose, what the conditions will be and then the operating agreement with the Superferry has to be made clear as well," she said.

On Kauai and Maui there is a growing sense of discontent among Superferry opponents.

"The general mood is they're extremely disappointed and they felt that the law that was pushed through the legislature was very corrupt and quite unconstitutional," said John Tyler, a Kauai activists who maintains an anti-Superferry website,

Tyler says he expects large crowds at Kahului and Nawiliwili Harbors if the Superferry sails back to Maui and Kauai. "Our organization does not promote violence in anyway, we are very peaceful but we do speak our mind. I would expect the civil disobedience would get stronger and the court system here could not handle six hundred, or seven hundred or a thousand people being arrested."

A special security zone that blankets Nawiliwili Harbor was reauthorized Thursday by the U.S. Coast Guard until the end of November. Lt John Titchen says the commander of the Honolulu District could impose the same expanded security zone at Kahului Harbor, but for now the security zone there is restricted to 100 yards around the Superferry.

Anyone who violates the harbors' security zones faces a possible 10 year jail sentence, fines up to $32,500 and confiscation of any vessel placed in the water, including surfboards, kayaks or canoes.

Andrew may be reached at or ph. 591-4263.
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