State lawmakers in Hawaii were working
rapidly to craft legislation that would allow Hawaii Superferry to
resume operations despite a court ruling Oct. 9 that it remain
docked until after an environmental impact study, or EIS, is
Hawaii Gov. Linda
Lingle and state Senate and House leaders met over the past several
days in an effort to build a consensus around a proposed bill
crafted specifically to remedy the environmental entanglements that
have kept the inter-island ferry from operating between Maui, Kauai
commented that once a consensus was reached on the legislation, a
special session of Hawaii's legislature would convene to quickly
vote on the measure.
timetable could conceivably allow Hawaii Superferry to resume
operations before the end of October.
"The bigger issues
are keeping the service for the people of Hawaii over the long term
and protecting the state's reputation in how we operate," Gov.
Lingle said during an interview on KSSK, a talk radio station based
that the court had gone "beyond merely interpreting the law" when
it ruled the state government erred by approving the ferry's
operation without assessing its impact on the environment and sea
life, such as humpback whales, that inhabit Hawaii's
decision that the state Department of Transportation made [to
permit the ferry to operate without the EIS] was based on the law
as everyone had interpreted it," she said. "There have never been
environmental assessments [done for] vessels" such as cruise ships
and other ferries that now operate in Hawaii.
Nonetheless, it was
likely that the state legislature's plan to approve a Hawaii
Superferry-specific bill would run into opposition from
environmentalists and others who, through lawsuits and protests,
have attempted to block the high-speed ferry service until after an
environment assessment can be completed.
Superferry, which essentially has been unable to operate since its
official launch in August, said that it
would layoff 249 of its 308 employees. The company estimated that
it is loosing more than $600,000 each week the service remains
consequence of the recent ruling is that we have reached the point
where Hawaii Superferry can no longer bear the financial cost of
fully retaining its workforce," said company President and CEO John
Garibaldi in a statement posted on the company's Web
committed to providing Hawaii's residents and businesses with a
safe and reliable inter-island ferry system. It is our hope that we
will have the opportunity to bring our furloughed employees back to
work in the near future," the statement continued.
contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].