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New EIS Rules Take Effect in August

July 30, 2019, 5:19 PM HST
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Gov. David Ige on Tuesday, July 30, 2019, signed new rules that will alter the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. The new rules will take effect on Aug. 9, 2019.

The Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) and State Environmental Council submitted its final rules to the governor at the beginning of April 2019, after completing a nearly two-year effort to modernize the existing rules, according to a state press release.

The governor set the signing date back in May to give stakeholders sufficient time to prepare for the adoption of the new rules. The OEQC publication date for The Environmental Notice on Aug, 8, 2019, will be the last issue under the current rules. The Aug. 23, 2019, issue will be the first one under the new rules.

In developing the new rules, the Council prepared four working drafts and held about 30 public meetings, including nine public hearings with at least one on each island.

“These rules strike the right balance to ensure public involvement in government decision making and the disclosure of activities that might affect our environment,” Gov. Ige said. “The work done by the volunteers on the Environmental Council and the OEQC staff to build consensus has been impressive.”

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The new rules repeal the existing Hawaii Administrative Rule (HAR) Chapter 11-200 and adopt a new chapter called HAR Chapter 11-200.1. The Council repealed and replaced rather than revise the existing rules because the new rules reorganize the structure and make numerous revisions and additions.

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The new rules incorporate changes in the statute by the Legislature and rulings by the Hawaii Supreme Court, clarify roles and responsibilities in the process, require agencies to publicly list their exemptions on a monthly basis, allow for exemptions for building urban affordable housing in certain circumstances, make considering sea level rise and greenhouse gas emissions explicit and require public scoping meetings at the beginning of EISs, among other changes.

For more information, the OEQC maintains a webpage with links to all of the rules documents and a timeline of the effort visit http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/rules-update/.

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