Judge Rules Superferry Can't Resume Service Until EA is Completed

WAILUKU, Maui (KHNL) - A Maui judge rules the Superferry cannot resume service to Maui until an environmental assessment is completed.

The ruling came after four weeks of testimony and is a clear victory for Superferry opponents.

This was gleaned from listening to the judge on line.

This case dealt with the issue of limited improvements at Kahului Harbor.  On August 26, 2007 Hawaii Superferry service to Maui commenced.   The court then issued a temporary restraining order preventing the Superferry from using improvements at the harbor.  Court then had to determine whether to issue a preliminary injunction.  Plantiffs (opponents) then sought a permanent injunction to prevent the service from continuing until an environmental assessment (EA) is complete.  Both sides agree that the plantiffs prevailed on the issue of an EA.  In reviewing state statues,  the judge says "humanities activities do have broad impacts on all the environment.  The legislature has found that the process of reviewing 'all effects' is desirable and benefits all parties involved".  The courts obligation he says is to apply the law as it is written and he cannot rewrite the law.

There has not been an EA completed and the plantiffs have taken the position under the statute that no action can be taken until approval of an environmental assessment.  Defendants (Superferry) have taken the position that they should be able to use the harbor during the EA process.  Plantiffs responded that this would defeat the process and it is not permitted under state law.  Defendants argue that under federal law the state court can allow the use of the harbor.  Plantiffs claimed that federal law is different and the state law is precise in this case.

The judge ruled that after reviewing case law dealing with issues of this nature he has concise, final direction.  The environmental assessment must be complete before Hawaii Superferry can use improvements at Kahului Harbor.