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Souki's Airport Bill Dies

by Lonu Ho‘iole

"I've Never Met an EIS I Liked"

After it passed first reading by the state House of Representatives in March, House Bill 416 failed to get a hearing in the Senate. The action introduced by Wailuku Rep. Joe Souki would have allowed the state Department of Transportation to proceed with airport improvements without getting special management area permits or other approvals now required by the county.

Souki said he proposed the bill in an attempt to speed up airport improvement projects. He noted state harbors are already exempt from special management area permits and maintained the rules should be the same for airports.

"Once I took Kahului Harbor oversight away from Maui County, I was able to do favors for my big donors, Hawaii Superferry and NCL," said Souki.

"When local planning is in local hands, it's much harder for me to slip one over on my constituents. This bill was a logical follow up to killing the Superferry EIS. I can really make the bucks off the airlines and contractors. "

"This planning, mitigation and studying stuff just gets in the way of my donors. After all, that is what were all here for, right? It's our American right and duty to build bigger, better and more. I say, do away with all EIS requirements. Heck, this is America, right?"

"The county approval process is very slow", Souki said.

"I know some people were afraid we’d try to do the extension of the runway again, but that was not the idea," he said, with a wink.

Souki said he planned to reintroduce the bill next year.

"Especially now as we’re trying to get all the airports up to snuff, we can’t be waiting forever," he said.

Environmentalists claim that what Souki wants to do is to "snuff" out local control and oversight and open the door to unlimited exploitation of Maui..

An unnamed source in the Democratic Party said, "With Democrats like Souki, the Republicans don't even need a majority."


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