special session of Hawaii's state legislature was poised to convene
as early as this week to vote on a bill that would allow Hawaii
Superferry to resume operation, despite a court ruling that it
remain docked pending an environmental study.
Hawaii Gov. Linda
Lingle and state Senate and House leaders had been meeting last
week in an effort to build a consensus around a narrowly worded
bill crafted specifically to remedy the environmental entanglements
that have kept the $90 million interisland ferry from operating
between Maui, Kauai and Oahu.
commented that once a consensus is reached on the legislation, a
special session of Hawaii's legislature would convene to vote on
At press time,
published reports indicated that the legislature would meet during
the week of Oct. 22.
Operations could resume this month
timetable could enable Hawaii Superferry to resume operations
before the end of October.
"The bigger issues
are first keeping the service for the people of Hawaii over the
long term and protecting the state's reputation in how we operate,"
Lingle said during an interview on KSSK, a talk radio station in
that the court had gone "beyond merely interpreting the law" when
it ruled that the state government had erred in approving the
ferry's operation without assessing its impact on the environment
and sea life, such as humpback whales, that inhabit Hawaii's
Lingle said, "The
original decision that the state department of transportation made
[to permit the ferry to operate without the study] was based on the
law as everyone had interpreted it. There have never been
environmental assessments [for] vessels" such as cruise ships and
other ferries that now operate in Hawaii.
Nonetheless, it was
likely that the Hawaii Superferry bill would run into opposition
from environmentalists and others who through lawsuits and protests
have attempted to block the high-speed ferry service from operating
until after an environmental assessment can be
With its future
unclear, Hawaii Superferry recently furloughed 249 of its 308
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," Hawaii Superferry President and CEO
John Garibaldi said in a statement posted on the company's Web
committed to providing Hawaii's residents and businesses with a
safe and reliable interisland ferry system. It is our hope that we
will have the opportunity to bring our furloughed employees back to
work in the near future."
said it was losing more than $600,000 every week the service
contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].