H.C.R. NO.



HD. 1














     WHEREAS, the governor of our state has indicated that his goal is to double food production in the state of Hawaii by 2020; and


     WHEREAS, doubling food production may require large, agricultural projects; and


     WHEREAS, large agricultural projects often have components of land use, water use, waste management and potentially complex interactions with the environment triggering environmental impact statements; and


     WHEREAS, these agricultural projects can be very capital intensive and consequently can also be very time sensitive; and


WHEREAS, the purpose of HRS Chapter 341 is to provide an environmental review process to “integrate the review of environmental concerns with existing planning processes of the State and counties and alert decision makers to significant environmental effects which may result from the implementation of certain actions.”  HRS Chapter 341-1


WHEREAS, the legislature found “that the process of reviewing environmental effects is desirable because environmental consciousness is enhanced, cooperation and coordination are encouraged, and public participation during the review process benefits all parties involved and society as a whole.” HRS Chapter 341-1


WHEREAS, the Hawaii Supreme Court found that an environmental impact statement was adequate where it set forth sufficient information to enable decision makers to consider fully the environmental factors involved. See 81 H. 171, 914 P.2d 1364.


WHEREAS, the state enacted rules to implement Chapter 343 defining “[a]cceptance” as “a formal determination of acceptability that the document required to be filed pursuant to chapter 343, HRS, fulfills the definitions and requirements of an environmental impact statement, adequately describes identifiable environmental impacts, and satisfactorily responds to comments received during the review of the statement.” HAR §11-200-2.


WHEREAS, the rules provide that “[a]ny substantive comments received by the proposing agency or applicant pursuant to this section shall be responded to in writing and as appropriate, incorporated into the draft EIS by the proposing agency or applicant prior to the filing of the draft EIS with the approving agency or accepting authority. Letters submitted which contain no comments on the project but only serve to acknowledge receipt of the document do not require a written response. Acknowledgement of receipt of these items must be included in the final environmental assessment or final statement.” HAR §11-200-15(d).


WHEREAS, the rules provide the “final EIS shall consist of:

(1) The draft EIS revised to incorporate substantive comments received during the consultation and review processes;

(2) Reproductions of all letters received containing substantive questions, comments, or recommendations and, as applicable, summaries of any scoping meetings held;

(3) A list of persons, organizations, and public agencies commenting on the draft EIS;

(4) The responses of the applicant or proposing agency to each substantive question, comment, or recommendation received in the review and consultation processes.

(5) The text of the final EIS which shall be written in a format which allows the reader to easily distinguish changes made to the text of the draft EIS.” HAR §11-200-18


WHEREAS, the rules provide that “[i]n developing the EIS, preparers shall make every effort to convey the required information succinctly in a form easily understood, both by members of the public and by public decision-makers, giving attention to the substance of the information conveyed rather than to the particular form, or length, or detail of the statement. The scope of the statement may vary with the scope of the proposed action and its impact. Data and analyses in a statement shall be commensurate with the importance of the impact, and less important material may be summarized, consolidated, or simply referenced.” HAR §11-200-19.


WHEREAS, the rules provide that the “[a]cceptability of a statement shall be evaluated on the basis of whether the statement, in its completed form, represents an informational instrument which fulfills the definition of an EIS and adequately discloses and describes all identifiable environmental impacts and satisfactorily responds to review comments.”  HAR §11-200-23.


WHEREAS, the Office of Environmental Quality Control created two different guidance documents to interpret and elaborate upon the statutory and regulatory provisions; this guidance has been interpreted differently, from one administration to the next, creating uncertainty for the regulated community and public at large.


WHEREAS, ambiguities in the interpretation of the law have resulted in unnecessary litigation and a process that has become less about substance and environmental quality and protection and more about litigation opportunities.


BE IT RESOLVED by the House of the Twenty-ninth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2017, the Senate concurring, that the Office of Environmental Quality Control is requested to apply consistent standards to all applicants and agencies, follow the statutory intent of the legislature and provide a briefing for all legislators on guidance documents and current office interpretations of the law.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Office of Environmental Quality Control is requested to submit its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2018; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to Director of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism; Director of Planning; and the Director of Health.







Report Title: 

Office of Environmental Quality Control