Superferry May Be Sunk

State Rep. Hermina Morita
State Rep. Hermina Morita

by Darren Pai

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Work continues at Honolulu's Pier 19 on state barges to load cars on and off of the Hawaii Superferry. But before the company weighs anchor, some lawmakers want the state Department of Transportation to prepare an environmental impact statement.

"They have to comply with our state law and our state law is very clear on the triggers for environmental review," said Rep. Hermina Morita, House Environmental Protection chairwoman.

Morita said an environmental impact statement is required by law because taxpayer dollars were used to make harbor improvements specifically for the Superferry.

The company's first ferry is expected to arrive in Hawaii in May. An environmental impact statement, if required by law, could take months to complete.

"Right now they're trying to make up the rules as they go along in addressing the concerns of the committee," Morita said. "And we don't know what the rules are. So how can anybody play by the rules?"

The company said it has been meeting with community groups statewide to address environmental concerns.

"We've reached out to a lot of experts on these islands on invasive species, regarding whales and they've really helped us develop good policies on these issues," said Terry O'Halloran, business development director for Hawaii Superferry.

The Department of Transportation said the Superferry has received all of the necessary permits.

"We've complied with all of the regulations," O'Halloran said. "We have a lot of support and we are on schedule to bring a choice to the people here in hawaii for interisland travel."