Report Title:

Environmental impact statements; conflict of interest

Description:

Allows the Office of Environmental Quality Control to review an agency's determination on the need for an environmental impact statement, consult with the agency, and make a final determination whether a conflict of interest exists when the proposing agency and the agency making a determination are the same. (HB2314 HD1)

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

2314

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2004

H.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

relating to environmental impact statements.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The legislature finds that environmental assessments and impact statements prepared pursuant to chapter 343, Hawaii Revised Statutes, disclose the environmental, social, cultural, and economic effects of future development to the public and decision-makers and provide an excellent basis for making informed decisions on projects. Accordingly, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, it is in the public interest to have these informational documents reviewed for completeness by the office of environmental quality control when the proposing agency is also the accepting or approving agency.

The purpose of this Act is to allow the office of environmental quality control to review an agency's determination on the need for an environmental impact statement, consult with the agency, and make a final determination whether a conflict of interest exists when the proposing agency and the agency making a determination are the same.

SECTION 2. Section 343-5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:

"(b) Whenever an agency proposes an action in subsection (a), other than feasibility or planning studies for possible future programs or projects [which] that the agency has not approved, adopted, or funded, or other than the use of state or county funds for the acquisition of unimproved real property, which action is not a specific type of action declared exempt under section 343-6, that agency shall prepare an environmental assessment for [such] the action at the earliest practicable time to determine whether an environmental impact statement shall be required. For environmental assessments for which a finding of no significant impact is anticipated, a draft environmental assessment shall be made available for public review and comment for a period of thirty days. The office shall inform the public of the availability of the draft environmental assessment for public review and [comments] comment pursuant to section 343-3. The agency shall respond in writing to comments received during the review and prepare a final environmental assessment to determine whether an environmental impact statement shall be required. A statement shall be required if the agency finds that the proposed action may have a significant effect on the environment. The agency shall file notice of [such] its determination with the office [which, in turn, shall publish the agencyís]. When a conflict of interest may exist because the proposing agency and the agency making the determination are the same, the office may review the agency's determination, consult with the agency, and make a final determination. The office shall publish the final determination for the publicís information pursuant to section 343-3. The draft and final statements, if required, shall be prepared by the agency and submitted to the office. The draft statement shall be made available for public review and comment through the office for a period of forty-five days. The office shall inform the public of the availability of the draft statement for public review and [comments] comment pursuant to section 343-3. The agency shall respond in writing to comments received during the review and prepare a final statement. The office, when requested by the agency, may make a recommendation as to the acceptability of the final statement. The final authority to accept a final statement shall rest with:

(1) The governor, or the governorís authorized representative, whenever an action proposes the use of state lands or the use of state funds or whenever a state agency proposes an action within the categories in subsection (a); or

(2) The mayor, or the mayorís authorized representative, of the respective county whenever an action proposes only the use of county lands or county funds.

Acceptance of a required final statement shall be a condition precedent to implementation of the proposed action. Upon acceptance or nonacceptance of the final statement, the governor or mayor, or the governorís or mayorís authorized representative, shall file notice of [such] its determination with the office. The office, in turn, shall publish the determination of acceptance or nonacceptance pursuant to section 343-3."

SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.