Former state attorney general has plan to save the Superferry - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Former state attorney general has plan to save the Superferry

Michael Lilly Michael Lilly
Robert Harris Robert Harris

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) -  A move to clear the way to bring the Hawaii Superferry back to our shores is underway Friday.  Former State Attorney General Michael Lilly says there's a simple legislative fix that can be done this session, but environmental groups says this raises a major red flag.

The Alakai said bon voyage to Hawaii last month after losing a drawn out legal battle.  Folks like Lilly were sad to see it go.

"I've ridden it once and it was only local people, not tourists," said Lilly, who is now a partner with Ning, Lilly & Jones law firm in Downtown Honolulu. "It's our treasure that we lost."

 But he has a plan to bring it back to Hawaii.  He says the Hawaii legislature could rewrite environmental laws to only consider primary, direct impacts, and disregard secondary impacts.

"It's a very easy fix," said Lilly. "The legislature can change the law with one sentence, and with a stroke of a pen, the governor can sign it into law and the case is over."

 This scenario has environmental groups like the Sierra Club very concerned.

"In fact, I think the action makes the problem worse because for 30 years now, we've had this environmental law process," said Robert Harris, director of the Hawaii chapter of the Sierra Club. "The idea is to take a comprehensive view and look at everything and by essentially putting the blinders on and  saying we're not going to look at everything, it really guts the purpose of the environmental law."

The Sierra Club admits if this becomes law, they would have no legal recourse.

"With environmental review, you really want to have a broad systematic review and unfortunately if you cut out secondary impacts, you don't have that," said Harris.

It's now up to lawmakers to decide whether or not they will move forward with this idea.

"If the legislature just says our law does not require consideration of secondary impacts, and as soon as the governor signs that bill into law, then that's it; it's over," said Lilly.

"And what we should be doing is saying all businesses should be engaged with the community not moving in the opposite direction," said Harris.

Some lawmakers are hopeful something can be done this session, but, once again, the Sierra Club says this would be bad for Hawaii's environment.

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