Tuesday, February 9, 2010

SB2818 Passes Out of ENE Committee

At 2:45 p.m. today, ENE passed SB2818 with amendments after Chairman Gabbard made a few remarks.

After thanking the Study Team for addressing concerns from the February 2 hearing, SB2818 was recommended to pass with the following amendments to Part I:
  1. Delete the transfer of DLNR
  2. Increase the Environmental Council (EC) to 9 members instead of 7
  3. Continue the terms of the existing EC through July 1, 2012 or until the next Council is confirmed
  4. Change the effective date of Chapter 341 amendments to July 1, 2010 instead of 2012
  5. Delete sections 2-4 regarding departmental transfer because they are no longer needed
and to Part II:
  1. Clarify and simplify the proposed applicability and environmental assessment screen by amending 343-5(a) as follows: "a. Except as otherwise provided, an environmental assessment shall be required for actions that involve (i) major use of state or county lands or funds, or (ii) the issuance to a person of a major discretionary approval, such as a zoning approval or a permit by one or more agencies"
  2. Clarify that the mitigation monitoring report is only a disclosure document
  3. Add a definition of "significant adverse environmental effect" for clarity
  4. Change the "shelf life" rule, to be issued by the EC, to "not more than ten years" from a proposed "not more than seven"
  5. Clarify the effective date of 343-6 (rule-making) shall be July 1, 2010, while the rest of the 343 amendments will remain effective July 1, 2012
  6. Other technical amendments are also added
Senator Gabbard stated the the committee is committed to passing legislation, recognizing that the environmental review system is broken, but the bill is still not finished because some issues have not been addressed yet. Therefore, he is convening a working group to be composed of:
  • the UH Study Team
  • the Director of OEQC
  • the Chair of the EC
  • a member of the EC and a planner
  • a member of BIA
  • a member of the Sierra Club
  • a member of LURF
  • a member of Earthjustice
  • a member of BeltCollins
  • a member of The Nature Conservancy
  • and a facilitator
Senator Gabbard noted that participation in the working group is a privilege, not a right. He does not expect unanimous consent, though it would be nice, and no one individual would have veto power over the process. He expects everyone to come into the working group in the spirit of compromise and anyone who disrupts the process may be removed, to be replaced or not at the Senator's discretion.

During discussion of the bill, Senator Hemmings commented that he thanked Senator Gabbard for keeping the bill alive. He thanked the Study for the work and research it conducted and lauded its efforts to make the bill more equitable. He hopes the working group will take a second shot at relocating OEQC and the EC from DOH, noting the lack of institutional support from DOH. He still believes DLNR may be the best place to house the two. Also, he desires the working group to look at zoning and permitting for activities that are existing uses in existing zoning, to ensure such activities are not hindered by unnecessary environmental review. Finally, he recommended the inclusion of a member from The Nature Conservancy.

The bill was passed by vote, with Senators Gabbard, English, Green, Hooser, Kokubun, and Hemmings all voting in favor.

1 comment:

  1. Wait isn't this premature. Where is the final report? Why are we creating another group?