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Statewide Public Hearings on Changes to EIS Rules

April 23, 2018, 11:30 AM HST
* Updated April 23, 11:01 AM
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The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH), Environmental Council is conducting nine public hearings from May 21 to 31, 2018,  throughout the state on changes to the state Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) rules. The Council proposes to repeal Hawai‘i Administrative Rules (HAR) Title 11 Chapter 200, “Environmental Impact Statement Rules” and adopt Chapter 200.1, “Environmental Impact Statement Rules”.

“This is a major milestone for the State of Hawai‘i,” said Council Chair Puananionaona “Onaona” Thoene, “The Council has been working on these revisions for most of 2017. The updated rules have been prepared with an enormous amount of thoughtful and helpful public input, and a high level of Council discourse.”

The last time the rules were updated was in 1996, with an amendment to include an exemption for acquiring land for affordable housing added in 2007. The proposed repeal and adoption will update and substantially revise rules regarding the system of environmental review at the state and county levels which ensure environmental, economic, and technical concerns are given appropriate consideration in decision making in accordance with Chapter 343, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS).

According to Thoene, “The Administrative Rules are the cornerstone of our environmental review process. At times, they may have been less than clear. This revision does basically two things: it provides a much more orderly path for preparing environmental assessments and environmental impact statements; and it reflects, based on the experiences from over 20 years of environmental reviews, the need to bring those rules into the 21st century.”

The Council is proposing to repeal the existing chapter and adopt a new one instead of just amending the existing chapter because the Council reorganized the sections, improved the existing language, and added new sections to clarify the process better. These major revisions help to clarify the roles and responsibilities at various stages of the EIS process; submittals and deadlines using electronic communication; when an exemption is appropriate and the role of exemption lists; how to proceed to directly preparing an EIS; how to do programmatic EISs and supplemental EISs; how to respond to comments; how to assure a path for substantive public input; and how to do a combined federal and state EIS.

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“The Environmental Council’s membership comes from every island, and the volunteer members bring a breadth of experience that made this review process a very healthy and substantive one,” said Scott Glenn, director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control. “These revised rules also incorporate today’s issues, like climate change, by incorporating greenhouse gas emissions and sea level rise into the criteria for not allowing an exemption or requiring an environmental impact statement.”

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Schedule of Statewide Public Hearings

Hawai‘i Island:

  • Hilo – Tuesday, May 22, 9-11 a.m., Hawai‘i Environmental Health Conference Room, 1582 Kamehameha Ave. in Hilo. Parking is available at the building or next door at the Waiakea Recreation Center parking lot.
  • Kona – Tuesday, May 22, 5-7 pm, West Hawai‘i Civic Center, Council Chambers, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway in Kailua-Kona. Parking is available.

O‘ahu:

  • Monday, May 21, 9-11 a.m., State Capitol Auditorium (basement) in Honolulu. Metered parking available.
  • Monday, May 21, 6-8 p.m., Department of Health board room, 1250 Punchbowl St. in Honolulu. Metered parking available. For afterhours entrance to the board room use the door facing Punchbowl St., follow the posted signs.
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Moloka‘i:

  • Thursday, May 24, 3-5 p.m., Mitchell Pauole Community Center, 90 Ainoa St. in Kaunakakai. Parking is available.

Kaua‘i:

  • Tuesday, May 29, 6-8 p.m., Elsie H. Wilcox Elementary School, Cafeteria, 4319 Hardy St. in Līhue. Parking is available.

Lana‘i:

  • Wednesday, May 30, 3-5 p.m., Lana‘i High and Elementary School, Cafeteria, 555 Fraser Ave. in Lana‘i City. Parking is available.

Maui:

  • Thursday, May 31, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Wailuku State Office Building, 54 S. High St., 3rd Floor Conference Room A, B, C. Metered parking is available around building.
  • Thursday, May 31, 5-7 p.m., Maui Waena Intermediate School, Cafeteria, 795 Onehee Ave. in Kahului. Parking is available.

The proposed amendments may be viewed in-person at the Department of Health Kinau Hale building at 1250 Punchbowl St. or at the Office of Environmental Quality Control at 235 South Beretania St., Suite 702 in Honolulu between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The amendments are also posted online; or available by request to [email protected]. Hard copies will be mailed upon request with a prepayment of a five cent/page copy fee and postage; call (808) 586-4185 to request a mailed copy.

Public Testimony

All interested parties may attend a public hearing to present relevant information and individual opinion. Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written testimony to Attn: EIS Rules, 235 S. Beretania St., Suite 702, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813 or [email protected]. Oral testimony shall be limited to three (3) minutes per testifier. Written Testimony must be received by Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. To request an auxiliary aid or service (e.g. ASL interpreter, large print) for the hearing, call (808) 586-4185 (voice/TDD) or [email protected] at least ten business days before the hearing.

Rules Package

The Council prepared the following documents to assist the public with commenting on the draft rules. The public is urged to review the Rules Rationale document for explanations of the proposed changes.

The Environmental Council is responsible for making rules on how to prepare environmental impact statements under Chapter 343, HRS. Additional information about the Council is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/environmental-council/. The Council normally holds its meetings on the first Tuesday of every month.

Note: Council member and former Council Chair Joseph Shacat resigned in March to take a new position in Washington, D.C. The Council currently has one open seat.

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