Day One of Superferry Session Lasts From Sun Up to Sun Down

Senator Les Ihara
Senator Les Ihara
John Garibaldi
John Garibaldi

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The very first day in the legislative race to possibly save the Superferry lasted ten hours Wednesday. The special session is the last hope for the troubled ship. Among those who testified was Superferry President John Garibaldi.

He told lawmakers that during the planning stages of the Superferry project, no one in the Lingle Administration said an environmental assessment may be necessary before the ship set sail.

For more than an hour, senators bombarded John Garibaldi with heated questions.

"If this bill were to proceed it's like putting the cart before the horse and I want to avoid killing the horse," said Senator Les Ihara.

Or, in the Superferry's case, avoid killing marine life. Garibaldi reassured the senate his company has done extensive environmental homework.

"We reached out to a number of different groups, whether they be environmental bodies or whether they be people actively involved in invasive species councils," he said.

If the Superferry bill passes, the Alakai could operate under tough restrictions while an environmental study is conducted. If the bill fails, Garibaldi says the ship would probably sail off to the mainland.

"The military would also be a candidate for these vessels if they would not be able to be used here because the military does use comparable vessels," Garibaldi says.

But Garibaldi hopes that won't be the case, and based on additional testimony given on day one of the special session, a majority of the audience is on Garibaldi's side so far.

A lawyer for Superferry opponents calls today's session a show, saying the Oahu delegation is bullying the neighbor islands. Environmentalists still demand an Environmental Impact Statement be done first.

The special session is expected to last about six days. The House of Representatives meets Thursday.