Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jeff Mikulina, Director and Spokesman for the Sierra Club (Hawai'i) to Step Down

According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Mikulina was with the Sierra Club for 10 years. See Sierra Club Hawaii director resigning, Honolulu Advertiser, Aug. 21, 2008.

Three cases, where the Sierra Club was an appellant, were reported out Hawaii’s appellate court’s during his tenure as follows:

  • Sierra Club v. Department of Transp., 2007 WL 2472035 (2007). The Sierra Club challenged the DOT’s exemption of the Hawaii Superferry from Hawaii’s environmental impact statement statute. The court held, inter alia, that (1) exemptions under the Hawai'i Environmental Protection Act (HEPA) are reviewed as a matter of law; (2) members of environmental groups have standing to bring action seeking a determination that an environmental assessment (EA) was required for the harbor improvements; (3) environmental groups have standing to bring an action on behalf of their members; (4) DOT was not required to view state harbor improvements and the Superferry project as connected actions, for purposes of an exception to the EA requirement; but (5) harbor improvements were not exempt from an EA, because DOT was required to examine improvements' secondary effects, and secondary effects of the Superferry project required and EA.

  • Sierra Club v. Office of Planning, 109 Haw. 411 (2006). The Sierra Club appealed the reclassification of property by the State Land Use Commission (LUC) from the agricultural district to the urban district, to facilitate development of the Koa Ridge project, without the preparation of an EA. The court held that the LUC's consideration of reclassification of property constituted “action” proposing use of state lands, triggering LUC's obligation at the “earliest practicable time” to prepare an EA under HEPA.

  • Sierra Club v. Hawaii Tourism Authority, 100 Hawai'i 242 (2002). The Sierra Club brought a petition for injunctive relief challenging the Hawaii Tourism Authority's (HTA) decision to contract for tourism marketing services without conducting an environmental assessment. The court held that: (1) the Sierra Club failed to meet the three-part "injury-in-fact" test for standing; and (2) "informational injury" was not an actual or threatened injury for purposes of standing (i.e., a mere interest in a problem, no matter how long-standing the interest and no matter how qualified the organization is in evaluating the problem, is not sufficient to confer standing).

The above are seminal cases in Hawaii environmental law and are worth a read.

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