East Hawaii News

Changes Proposed to Rules For Environmental Studies

September 20, 2012, 2:24 PM HST
* Updated September 20, 4:35 PM
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***Editor’s note: This article replaces an early draft that was posted in error.***

The state Environmental Council has released a draft of revisions to the rules that guide the state’s environmental review process.

The proposed changes to the administrative rules include bringing the rules into line with previous changes to state law outlining several new types of development that would trigger preparation of an environment assessment (EA) or the more detailed environmental impact statement (EIS). Those include waste-to-energy facilities, landfills, oil refineries or power-generating facilities.

Other proposed amendments to the rules include expanded requirements for the analysis of cultural impacts and for preparation of a supplemental EIS. Another would require that a draft EIS contain a list of existing environmental studies relevant to the proposed project to help in the determination of cumulative impacts.

One proposed change would extend the comment period on EAs for new or expanded prisons to 60 days. Under current rules, the comment period is 30 days for draft studies and 45 days for final versions.

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The last comprehensive changes to the rules were in 1996, and the council has determined that new amendments are needed to reflect court rulings and changes to state law over the past 16 years.

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“Recent changes in the law and court decisions such as those involving the Hawaii Superferry and Turtle Bay highlight the need to keep Hawaii’s Environmental Impact Statement rules updated,” said Scott Glenn, chairman of the council’s Rules Committee. “Various agencies and members of the public have requested that the Environmental Council propose draft rules as a starting point to discuss these changes, and this begins the process.”

The Rules Committee will hold meetings through Nov. 15 to get public input on the proposed changes. Formal public hearings are expected next year on the final proposed draft.

The draft rules can be viewed at http://oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/default.aspx. Comments and questions can be emailed to [email protected] or sent to Environmental Council, c/o Office of Environmental Quality Control, 235 South Beretania St., Suite 702, Honolulu, HI 96813.

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The Environmental Council serves as the liaison between the public and the Office of Environmental Quality Control, which manages the EA and EIS process. It consists of 15 members appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate from a variety of educational, business and environmental backgrounds.

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