Governor Postpones Trip to Asia to Save Superferry

Governor Linda Lingle
Governor Linda Lingle
Senator Colleen Hanabusa
Senator Colleen Hanabusa

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Governor Linda Lingle announced Friday that she's put off her trip to Asia, where she was set to speak at the World Tourism Congress.

The Governor says she wants to focus on saving the Superferry, and stressed again that the state's economy is at stake.

Governor Lingle's vision for Hawaii is to expand the economy, focus on innovation and technology. Since the economy relies heavily on tourism, she says preserving the Superferry is critical to protecting the state's business future.

"I want to do whatever I can to make certain people of Hawaii don't lose this option," she says.

At the Executive Chamber Friday afternoon, Governor Lingle stood her ground, saying she does not take responsibility for the Superferry crisis.

"There's always going to be a couple legislators in either House who just feel more comfortable in an attack mode. That kind of attitude is not going to solve this problem," she said.

It's a problem the Governor says could hurt Hawaii's business reputation if the Legislature doesn't step in to save the maiden voyage.

"It could have a severe and long-term negative impact on our economy and therefore on our standard of living and the ability of our families to live a decent life here," says Governor Lingle.

A bill to untie the Alakai from Honolulu Harbor is tangled up in the House and Senate. Many lawmakers demand environmental restrictions be added to the proposal. Senate President Colleen Hanabusa says the bill would address improvements at Kahului Harbor.

"It's not the Superferry. It's really the state harbors that are being enjoined. And as you know, the decision is such that it only affects Maui. It doesn't affect Oahu. It doesn't affect Kauai," Hanabusa says.

A revised bill could determine whether a special session is called, which the Governor says is the only hope for the Superferry.

The Attorney General is working with top legislators on those revisions.

The Governor says if the House and Senate agree on the revised bill, an emergency session could happen in about a week and a half.

The bill would allow the Superferry to operate while an environmental study is conducted.

On Tuesday, a Maui judge ruled the Alakai can't operate until an environmental assessment is done.