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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Hawaii Superferry Military Superferry 

My short post last week about the Hawaii Superferry Protest has generated loads of interest and reflects the furor that has exploded in the media about the issue. Like most onlookers, when the idea of the Superferry was first announced, I thought that it seemed like something that would be of great benefit to the people of Hawaii and would certainly make life easier for tourists. Great assurances were made about possible environmental concerns and I was surprised to receive a strongly worded comment pointing out in no uncertain terms, that there was a lot more to the Hawaii Superferry Protest than meets the eye.

Another reader, Zaphod, provided a link to SinkDaSuperferry.googlepages.com for tons of links to superferry info and video, which I duly followed up and it seems that there is a lot more to this issue. It seems that the law requires ventures such as the Hawaii Superferry to be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) but despite protest, this requirement was waived in the case of the Superferry.

However, it turns out that there is even more to the story. Let me begin by drawing attention to an article by Joanne Ralston in Hawaii Reporter. Joanne asks why protesters have, "singled out just one company for an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Environmental Impact Study (EIS)." Suggesting that, "there is nothing fair or reasonable about this. Either everyone has to go through a costly and time consuming EIS, or no one does." She concludes that the Superferry Protesters are "Hypocrites All" and implies that there must be a hidden agenda to the protest.

Guess what, there is a hidden agenda, but surprise, surprise, the hidden agenda may not be coming from the protestors. A web site devoted to the superferry impact provides a valuable insight into the many and varied environmental issues but then comes up with this little gem. "The Superferry design is the same as vessels being used by WestPac Express who transport military personnel and equipment in Japan."

Can you hear the alarm bells ringing? superferryimpact.com advise that John F. Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan chairs the Hawaii Superferry Board of Directors; his private equity firm, J.F. Lehman & Co., has invested $71 million in the Hawaii Superferry and five of the other 11 members of the Hawaii Superferry Board have ties to J.F. Lehman & Co.

The site goes on to quote an interview with John F. Lehman in the Pacific Business News (April 8, 2005), the nub of which is that there will be regular usage of the Hawaii Superferry by platoons of Stryker vehicles because armored personnel carriers can travel as a unit and drive on to the ferry. The unit members will be able to go into the passenger area that is set up so that it will be a conference or briefing area, making it much cheaper and more efficient for the military to train soldiers.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the reason that the protesters have "singled out just one company for an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Environmental Impact Study (EIS)."

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