Bill That Removes Regulatory Restrictions to Expedite Construction of State and County Projects is Bad for Hawaii’s Environment

Honolulu Skyline (Photo courtesy of UHERO)
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Honolulu Skyline (Photo courtesy of UHERO)

BY DONNA WONG FOR HAWAII’S THOUSAND FRIENDS – SB 755 SD2 HD1 (originally introduced by Senators Fukunaga, Chun Oakland, Shimbukuro, Baker, Galuteria, Slom, Solomon, Tokuda, Wakai) has turned into a “gut and replace” bill.

Thanks to you, we’ve had great success thus far in stopping most of The Dirty Dozen — and this is the only way somebody (or bodies) can bring these foul bills back to life at this late date. Simply put, another bill with a similar title, still alive, has its language removed and replaced with other language. In this case — with much of the worst language from the failed Dirty Dozen.


Introduced in 2011 as RELATING TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Gambling; Peer-to-Peer Entertainment SB 755 SD2 HD1, the now-gutted bill passed all of the Senate and House committees in 2011 and has now been re-referred to House Water, Land & Ocean Resources and Energy & Environmental Protection Committees for a hearing to adopt the proposed HD2. Read the proposed HD2 HERE. Read the hearing notice HERE.

The stated purpose of this new “gut and replace” bill approved for hearing by WLO chair Rep. Jerry Chang and EEP Chair Denny Coffman is to promote economic development by temporarily removing regulatory restrictions to the expeditious construction of certain state and county projects.

It will take only a moment to submit your testimony online HERE. It can be as simple as, “Please do not adopt the proposed HD2”.

What the proposed HD2 does:

– makes the Office of Planning (OP) responsible for issuance of special management area permits (SMAP) and shoreline setback variances for state projects until 2015.

– exempts all state projects from Chapter 343 requirements and environmental oversight

– exempts DLNR and DOT projects from SMAP and shoreline setback variance requirements until June 30, 2015

– exempts state projects from county general plans and zoning

– exempts airport structures and improvements temporarily, no ending date given, from the Special Management Area Permit and Shoreline Setback Variance to comply with Federal Aviation Administration Regulations

– exempts all work in a state commercial harbor from any permitting and site plan approval requirements far submerged lands in the conservation district

– exempts projects approved by the governor from approval by the environmental council or compliance with rules of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC)

– exempts Office of Planning from Chapter 91 public proceeds and information law

– exempts all work involving submerged lands used for state commercial harbor purposes from any permit and site plan review requirements for lands in the conservation district. No sunset date.

– exempts the requirement that the “lead agency,” State Office of Planning to hold a public hearing

– excludes the counties from granting SMA permits for state projects

– automatically approves a variance if OP, the lead agency, does not act on a variance request within 20 days after receiving the request.

– automatically approves a project if OP does not grant or deny a SMAP for a state project within 45-days

– automatically approves a project if OP does not grant or deny a SMA minor permit within 30 days

– eliminates the counties from the emergency and minor permit SMA process

– authorizes a more streamline process for exempting state and county projects from Chapter 343 environmental review to be repealed on 6/30/15.

– prohibits any person or agency from taking action against OP for granting or denying a SMAP and/or shoreline setback variance for a state structure or activity or exempting a state project from the need for a SMAP.

– requires that only the circuit court can impose any civil fine or other penalty for a state project

– reduces the deadline for challenging the lack of an environmental assessment for a state project.

– permits minor non-state structures in the shoreline area under rules adopted by the “department” or “lead agency” Does not define “lead agency” or “department.”

Who is behind this environmentally destructive and public exclusion bill? Is it Governor Abercrombie, or his chief of staff Bruce Coppa, former director of Pacific Resources Partnership — which “… serves as the critical link between Hawaii’s top contractors and the largest construction union in the state, the 7,600 member Hawaii Carpenters Union.”?

Is it William Aila, Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the State Department of Transportation, or Jesse Souiki, director of the Office of Planning? Or is it all of them?

Whoever is behind this bill, they do not have the public interest or protection of Hawai’s fragile and finite environment in mind.

As we’ve been suggesting, it would be very helpful if you also phoned Governor Abercrobie’s office telling him you are against SB 755 SD2 HD1 proposed HD2. If can, send him a copy of your testimony. IF YOU CAN’T SUBMIT TESTIMONY, please consider phoning the Governor’s Office to express your sentiments about this nasty “gut & replace” bill.

The Honorable Neil Abercrombie
Phone: 808-586-0034
Fax: 808-586-0006
Email HERE


“If the people lead, the leaders will follow.”
– Mahatma Gandhi –