Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More Unrest at the Environmental Council

Today's Honolulu Star Bulletin reports that three more state Environmental Council members resigned under protest. 

This follows the resignation of Robert A. King, former Chair of the Council in April. See Environmental Council Member Resigns Under Protest. According to the Star Bulletin, members resigned primarily because of "inadequate funding and staffing inside the state bureaucracy," and because "the Governor's Office ignored the council's proposals to revise the state's rules for environmental impact statements."

The Environmental Council was established by Act 132, Session Laws of Hawaii 1970 (codified as, HRS Chapter 341).  The Council consists of up to fifteen volunteer members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Each member serves staggered four year terms. The Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control serves as an ex-officio voting member of the Council.  

Under the Act, the Council must consist of a "balanced representation of educational, business, and environmentally pertinent disciplines and professions, such as the natural and social sciences, the humanities, architecture, engineering, environmental consulting, public health, and planning; educational and research institutions with environmental competence; agriculture, real estate, visitor industry, construction, media, and voluntary community and environmental groups."

The primary duties of the Council pursuant to HRS §§ 341-6 and 343-5 (Hawaii's EIS law) include:
  • Serving as as a liaison between the Director and the general public
  • Soliciting information, opinions, complaints, recommendations, and advice concerning ecology and environmental quality through public hearings or any other means
  • Publicizing such matters as requested by the Director
  • Making recommendations concerning ecology and environmental quality to the Director
  • Monitoring the progress of state, county, and federal agencies in achieving the State’s environmental goals and policies
  • Preparing an annual report with recommendations for improvement to the governor, the legislature, and the public no later than January 31 of each year
  • Hearing appeals regarding the nonacceptance of a final statement by an agency
  • Adopting, amending, or repealing necessary rules for the purposes of Hawaii EIS law under HRS Chapter 343

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