Wednesday, April 18, 2012

 

Rep. Pono Chong on SB 755, Environmental Protection & the Public Trust



By Henry Curtis

On April 10, 2020, House Majority Leader Pono Chong gave a long speech in favor of SB 755 SD2 HD3 which proposes to exempt harbors and airports from special management area use permits and shoreline setback variances and to give the Governor, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR)  broad powers to exempt governmental projects from reasonable review.


Pono Chong’s speech goes from 8:37:24 to 8:43:50 on the  9 hour 59 minute, 548 MB audio file.


Excerpts: There is a lot of misinformation, misunderstanding, misrepresentations. SB 755 is “pro environment” ... SB 755 allows public participation and therefore transparency. Project opponents abuse environmental laws.  SB 755 clarifies  what environmental approvals are for.


Pono Chong re SB 755:

It seems that there has been, kind of a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding regarding this draft. House Draft 3.  That needs to be cleared up. ...

Is 755 a blanket exemption. No!

The House proposal, narrowly, clearly states which projects are temporarily exempted and specifies, the type of exemption. Furthermore, exempted projects will still be subject, to numerous federal regulations ... Furthermore other state or local regulatory requirements ... So, there is a lot of other requirements ...

Second is will 755 degrade our State’s environment and natural resources at the expense of much needed   economic growth? No! I don’t think so.  

The purpose of the bill is to temporarily remove specific regulatory restrictions in order to expedite certain state projects.

Exemptions of this practical nature, will not only jumpstart projects and foster job growth, but also reduce, redundancies in state and federal regulations.  ...

And for those of you who fear SB 755 will trigger an environmental exemption free-for-all, let’s clarify the misrepresentations that have been made.

First every single project that would move forward on this bill, will still be subject to a multitude of other environmental laws, even if the exemptions on this bill are allowed to go through. Therefore there are a number of safeguards for the environment should these projects move forward.

Second public participation remains not withstanding the exemptions. There has been a lot of false information, pontificated, I like that word, about, how these exemptions take away the public’s right to participate in these planning projects. Yet if you understand the numerous environmental laws that these projects will continue to be subject to, public participation and therefore transparency, are still in place.  ...

Finally in no way are we degrading or eroding our environment, by passing this bill, due to many, many, many other environmental laws that will continue to be in place, and which these projects will be subject to.

We are simply streamlining the environmental redundancies, that exist, in our laws. Mr. Speaker, this bill is not a matter, of eroding environmental protections. Further scrutiny of the actual bill, shows that this measure is able to preserve, the status quo, the current level of environmental protections.

This is a matter of eliminating repetitive, and wasteful, governmental review. Job creation is a desired side effect of streamlining our review process across all levels of government.

By reducing bloated and redundant environmental review we are stretching taxpayers dollars, and spending them wisely, while preserving, all levels of environmental review. These are the very same taxpayer dollars, that are hard to come by, even during, our recovery.

This legislation is pro environment because it consolidates the ranks of our infrastructure, our public welfare sectors and our economic, sectors to ensure the preservation, of the public trust.

 Our constituents view our State Constitution and have entrusted us to uphold the public trust of the environment, and we have faithfully preserved all of these environmental protections, via SB 755.

This is not a matter of repealing or weakening, 343. This is an integration of [sic] into existing mechanisms both at a federal and a state, level of review.

Anything else, is a wonton mischaracterization. And that’s why I support it. If I could also add Mr. Speaker, as I have stated in prior speeches, is, the streamlining is important, not just to, better our tax dollars, not to just get more projects out and more construction, workers back to work, but also for the simple fact, that it clarifies I think, what environmental approvals are for.

I have seen many cases, where people who don’t want, a project or a development nearby, use the environmental permitting process, in the legal tiddlywinks, to kill, another project nearby. They know there’s no environmental impact, but yet, they use the process, to kill the project. And, its ironic that we want to protect the environment but we have no problem, abusing, the laws, when it suits us.

# # #





Comments:

And, it's ironic that we abuse the law, when it suits us, to ignore environmental impact.
 


SB755 opens the floodgate for Hong Kong (Honolulu)Harbor.
 


People looking for a rebuttal of Pono's "logic" can read Ian Lind's commentary linked in Larry's previous blog post.

I guess Henry is offering Pono's floor speech as representative of the Speaker faction's explanation/excuse/ spin on the alleged virtues of the bill. But I have come to expect this sort of nonsense from Pono. What pains me is to listen to the comments from other legislators, people I know, offering the same talking points as if they are desperate to believe what they are saying.

I am reminded of Stalinist conformity, whereby each suspect party member is expected to publicly demonstrate their loyalty to the leadership by regurgitating the "party line." Or perhaps a Mafia killing, where everyone present is forced to shot a bullet into the body, thereby making them guilty and preventing them from being able to squeal on the others.

What would be real helpful to democracy and accountability, would be a timeline with the names of the reps and the time of their comments, so we can easily listen to our own rep, or our friends, and hold them accountable for the nonsense they are spewing. A lot of members would look really bad.
 


What a bunch of crap! We have a number of different environmental laws because each law protects a different resource, does so under different circumstances, or provides different protections. Chong is saying, in effect, that it's OK to get rid of the Clean Water Act because we've still got the Clean Air Act. That sort of intellectual dishonesty is beneath contempt.
 


"Is 755 a blanket exemption. No!" It just allows the governor to exempt any project he likes.
"The House proposal, narrowly, clearly states which projects are temporarily exempted" Lier, lier pants on fire. No where in the Chapter 343 exemption section are any specific projects named. It simply allows the governor to exempt any project he likes.
"The purpose of the bill is to temporarily remove..." Whoops! There you go again Pono, another lie. Your nose is growing longer by the moment. Read the Bill Pono! If construction has been started on any project then the exemptions are extended. Read the definition of "construction" Pono! It means anything the governor wants it to mean.
"By reducing bloated and redundant environmental review we are stretching taxpayers dollars, and spending them wisely, while preserving, all levels of environmental review." OK. It's upchuck time. Pono, your line of reasoning cannot be called that at all. Your incredibly gross, mischaracterization of the concept of environmental protection is more than disheartening - but is in fact sickining - especially to know that your perspective and twisted logic represents that of the leadership in Hawaii's House of Representatives.
 


In the latest redistricting maps, Pno Chong, apologist for gutting environmental laws, will be forced to run against Jessica Wooley, one of the best environmentalists in the House.The voters of Kaneohe-Kahaluu-Waikane will have a pretty clear choice. Preserve Hawaii's beauty? Or pave it over? Do we want a legislature which represents our interests or only those of the construction crews?
 

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