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New construction streamlining legislation causes worry

April 19, 2012
The Maui Weekly

The Republic - Some state officials are wondering if new legislation aimed at streamlining Hawai'i's construction permitting process could be environmentally and culturally detrimental. Officials point to government construction projects that would be exempt from the environmental review process as a prime example.

The streamlining legislation has been made a priority this legislative session by policymakers who are grappling with ways to create new jobs and boost the economy. State Attorney General David Louie points out that the state constitution and common law could still theoretically protect environmental and cultural practices.

"Everybody in this room probably supports the idea of streamlining, perhaps creating jobs and making sure that important projects for airports are done in a timely and safe way," said Representative Jessica Wooley at a House Hawaiian Affairs meeting. "But at the same time what we're talking about is full-scale exemptions of laws that have been on the books for three decades."

"I have concerns about the potential results if these things go through because once you exempt certain kinds of projects, we don't necessarily have control over what's chosen and what's done," Wooley said.



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