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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Unperplexing Opposition to the Hawaii Superferry
By Andrew Walden @ 7:25 AM :: 11826 Views :: Hawaii County , Honolulu County, DHHL, Maui County, Energy, Environment

by Andrew Walden (March, 2007)

First it is lawsuits blocking the U.S. Navy’s use of sonar during RimPac. Then it is an attempt to prevent the Army from training its new Stryker Brigade on the Big Island. More recently it is efforts to demand that the Hawaii Superferry complete an environmental impact statement prior to launching inter-island ferry operations.

As Pacific Business News editorialized January 12, the Superferry opposition and obstruction, “continues to perplex us as yet another group of politicians, this time senators from Neighbor Islands, make noise….”

One might seek an explanation in the specifics of each dispute.

Anti-military efforts use environmental law as thinly disguised leverage to advance an anti-American agenda aimed at militarily weakening the United States. Stryker Brigades are among the most effective terrorist killing units in Iraq—hence the opposition from those who wish to see America defeated. October 26, while William Alia and David Henkin, the second place 2006 Democrat primary finishers for governor and Lt. Governor, litigated against Navy use of advanced sonar, an ultra-quiet Chinese ‘Song Class’ submarine—the exact type of sub for which the sonar is designed--surfaced undetected five miles from the carrier Kitty Hawk in the middle of RimPac maneuvers.

Reasons for opposition to the Superferry are less obvious. Senator Gary Hooser (D-Kauai) encapsulates the key anti-Superferry in the March 8 Maui News: “It’s possible that the Superferry could launch in service and strike a whale, bring in an invasive species and jam up traffic all in one day. We need stronger measures to ensure things like that won’t happen.”

It is arguments such as this which leave PBN editors “perplexed” and rightly so. Even if Hooser’s speculation became reality, Superferry would still have a better environmental record than those opposing it.

Whale-watching tours, often led by environmentalists, cause as many as 14.2% of all whale strikes according to one NOAA report—yet there is no call to ban whale watching.

The barges of Superferry opponent Young Brothers’ are towed 100 yards or so feet behind a tug boat. This separation of noise from vessel could cause whales to blunder into the barge’s path. Such strikes would almost always go unreported because the barge carries no crew. Yet the same activists who claim that sonar is making whales beach themselves somehow want the public to believe that a silent unmanned barge with a wide bow is less dangerous than a noisy ferry with two narrow catamaran bows, two crewmembers tasked to watch for whales, and a route designed to avoid known whale calving areas.

Young Brothers seemingly has no fear of creating a legal precedent which could be used against it. This makes no sense unless one treats the law as merely a means to an end and gives no importance to legal precedent. Logically, precedent would be of no concern to Hooser, a politician who votes to raise taxes though his own business failed to pay its state General Excise Tax for 11 years.

Hooser’s second argument is that Superferry would bring in invasive species. Actually both the airlines and barges are far more likely to do so. The Superferry offers a 3- or 4-hour opportunity for onboard inspection and observation during which invasive species could be caught and quarantined or killed.  For instance on January 31, a checkered keelback snake was found swimming at the port of Hilo. Missed by the hordes of paper-shufflers who pontificate endlessly about the importance of keeping out invasive species, the snake was killed by an alert port worker armed with a shovel. This isn’t the first time a snake came to Hilo on an unmanned barge or lightly crewed cargo vessel. It is certainly less likely that a snake, a coqui frog, or a mongoose would go undetected by the hundreds of passengers, crew and inspectors on the Superferry.

Hooser’s third argument is that Superferry would cause traffic jams. This should be simple to rectify. If the maiden voyage of the Superferry is from the sister island to Oahu, the Superferry will be reducing the number of cars on the sister island. Traffic congestion is caused by legislators raiding state transportation funds needed to build roads. A secondary cause of traffic congestion is environmentalist opposition to every road-building proposal. The third cause is large numbers of mainland environmentalists moving to “paradise” and bringing their political views with them.

It is this third cause of traffic congestion which leads us to Maui Tomorrow, one of the leading anti-Superferry groups.

Unlike other groups who pretend to have local roots, Maui Tomorrow unabashedly seeks support from rich outsiders for whom Maui is just a pretty tropical escape from the stresses of Hollywood or Silicon Valley. Maui Tomorrow leader Roger Sussman, writing in a March 2, 2005 Haleakala Times article, featured on the Maui Tomorrow website, describes his effort to contact and solicit funds from the Beatles’ George Harrison who “had picked gorgeous Maui's North Shore, out of all the attractive places in the world, to have his tropical retreat.”

Sussman then explains: “Alas, I never did find George, but there remains a need for potent, admirable, Maui-loving philanthropists to step forward and contribute in a big way to MT's operating funds. The challenges of keeping things sane, fresh, and beautiful around here continue, and those challenges aren't going to go away as our population increases.

“There are forces at work in the islands which are motivated by greed and undue power. Stopping the forward movement of these forces requires education and litigation, both of which cost money - often fairly large amounts of it - to make them effective.  There's a great opportunity for public service here with your money, Oprah, or whoever else cares about Maui enough to call this island home, or who visits us here fondly from time to time.”

The real “forces at work in the islands which are motivated by greed and undue power” are rich outsiders for whom Hawaii is just a pretty backdrop for their multi-million dollar tropical retreats.

In 2003, funding in the amount of $200,000 came to the “Blue Water Network” for the “Clean Vessels Initiative, to reduce the environmental impacts of large commercial vessels, cruise ships and fast ferries on the West Coast”. The donors? California-based Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.

The Goldmans were the trust-fund-babies of the Levi-Strauss blue jean fortune. Unlike other wealthy foundations taken over by leftist infiltration of the boards-of-directors, the Goldmans’ nearly $400 million foundation was created to fund radical causes and is operated by a board now made up of the Goldman trust-fund grand-babies. Besides the environment, another focus of the Goldman Fund is population control. For months, Hawaii Sierra Club activists danced to the Goldmans’ tune, howling about the alleged pollution dangers of cruise ships. Even as massive municipal sewage spills made the news in Waikiki, Hilo, Maui and Kaneohe, the activists were offering a $250,000 reward to anybody reporting only a cruise ship spill. The award money was never used, they could find no violations.

Why the focus on squeaky-clean cruise ships while so much municipal filth spewed forth? Opposing any and all economic growth is the true goal. A spill from a cruise ship is an argument to reduce or eliminate them. A spill from a sewage treatment plant is an argument to expand or upgrade it. How much of that unspent $250,000 reward went to fund the fight against “fast ferries”?

Most if not all so-called environmental campaigns in Hawaii are not grassroots efforts but are initiated and directed by the funding decisions of rich outside foundations directed by multi-millionaires such as the Goldmans.

The wealthy foundations are joined by hordes of New-Age Northern California millionaires who, after ruining San Francisco, are hell-bent on bending Hawaii to serve as a “sacred” backdrop for tantric retreats where stressed-out New-Agers can stroke their seventh chakra in front of a half-dozen or so other couples for $1,000 a night.

These are the people who write letters to the editor complaining about smoke from burning cane fields. They are the whiners who infest so-called community meetings intoning the meaningless magic words: ‘organic’, ‘holistic’, and ‘sustainable’. They are pleasure-seekers willing to use political power and money to stop any and all other economic activity which may undermine the ‘sacred’ faux-pristine patina necessary to their psychological and economic well-being.

All economic activity is a threat to their tropical navel-gazing. Their game plan is to assert the primacy of “environmental law” over all other considerations. For them Hawaiian cultural issues are just a useful tool complementing environmental law. If lack of economic opportunity means meth running rampant and locals moving to Las Vegas, so be it.

Anti-Americans form the third group in this unholy alliance. They don’t bathe as regularly as their partners in crime but are always ready to jump in with anything which obstructs national defense or hinders capitalism. They are the servants of the pleasure-seeking millionaires who fund them.

Ironically, efforts to shape the Hawaiian landscape into some kind of New Age utopia are destined to have the opposite effect. Hawaii is the unique creation of its own people. Obstructionism is guaranteed to transform Hawaii into a weather-perfect version of what all the New-Agers are fleeing—California.  Activist opposition created the jumbled, crowded development of Waikiki and Kailua-Kona.

One sure way to ensure Hawaii continues to be unique is to promote economic development such as the Superferry and cruise ships, which have less environmental impact than the planes, barges and shoreline resorts they displace. For the claimed goals of the so-called environmentalists to be achieved, they must reduce environmental and zoning restrictions on the small businesses and cease the capricious application of law to suit political agendas.

Only the individual unplanned contributions of entrepreneurs can make up the unique backdrop which the environmentalists are destroying in their alleged effort to save it.

Pacific Business News editors are “perplexed” because the environmentalists’ actions lead in the opposite direction from their stated values.

REFERENCES

PBN Jan 12: http://pacific.bizjournals.com/pacific/stories/2007/01/15/editorial1.html

Hooser: http://www.mauinews.com/story.aspx?id=28387

Chinese Sub: http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20061113-121539-3317r.htm

Hooser’s taxes: http://starbulletin.com/2004/10/11/news/story4.html

Hilo snake: http://starbulletin.com/2007/01/31/news/story13.html

Maui Tomorrow: http://www.maui-tomorrow.org/services/history.html

Goldman Fund http://www.undueinfluence.com/goldman_fund.htm

Goldman Fund 2003 http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2003/946/064/2003-946064502-1-F.pdf

NOAA report on whale strikes: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/shipstrike/ss_speed.pdf

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