Supreme Court Justifies its Superferry Ruling

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The Supreme Court issued a 104-page opinion Friday, outlining reasons for its Superferry ruling. Among their findings, the Justices say the state needed to consider not only harbor improvements, but the entirety of the project when deciding whether an environmental assessment is necessary.

The justices also say the public was prevented from participating in an environmental review process, which is contrary to the intended purpose of the Hawaii Environmental Protection Act.

The Supreme Court's opinion gives environmentalists more ammo in their fight against the Superferry.

In a nutshell, the document outlines in detail why the Supreme Court believes the Department of Transportation made a legal mistake when it decided the Superferry is exempt from an environmental review.

That's something environmentalists have been trying to point out all along.

"We are very pleased with the opinion that's been issued by the Supreme Court," says Isaac Hall, the plaintiff's attorney, "It would've been preferable for everyone if Superferry and the DOT had simply gone ahead and prepared an EA or EIS two years ago and we wouldn't be where we are now."

A temporary restraining order is keeping the giant catamaran anchored in Honolulu Harbor.

Friday afternoon, a judge amended that TRO, granting the Superferry one time access to Kahului Harbor in order to pick up stranded passengers.

Environmentalists have filed an injunction to stop ferry service until an environmental assessment is done.

The Department of Transportation would not comment on the Supreme Court opinion, saying it is still looking over the 104-page document.