MPL to Withdraw Proposed Final EIS
By Jennifer Smith and Léo Azambuja
Facing a potential rejection, Molokai Ranch’s legal counsel motioned to withdraw proposed Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the La`au Point development. After nearly two days of public testimony the Land Use Commission (LUC) members were left empty handed. With no document to act upon, the hearing was adjourned before receiving a presentation from the petitioner, Molokai Properties Limited, the Ranch’s parent company.
Organized and respectful nearly 350 people filtered in and out of the Lanikeha Building in Ho`olehua during Thursday’s hearing. Commissioners heard from individuals on all sides of the fence concerning MPL’s proposed Final EIS.
Where some testimonies provided documented environmental reasoning, others played to a more humanistic perspective in discussing potential cultural and social implications.
However, it was the culmination of testimonies on Thursday night that drew the crowds out, leaving standing room only for attendees. An impressive “red sea” of a`ole La`au shirts as one onlooker described it, filled the room.
Appreciative and receptive to the chanting and dancing of testimonies that provided an enhanced cultural perspective, commissioners reminded the public that the hearing was to address the acceptability of the proposed Final EIS, and not whether La`au Point would be developed.
Nearly 12 hours of testimony on Thursday prompted Commissioner Reuben SF Wong to motion for a vote rejecting the proposed Final EIS, before MPL provided their presentation about the document.
It took several recesses until legal counsel on both sides could find documentation in the Hawaii Revised Statutes to allow for the withdrawal of the document. MPL has promised to send written copies of their official withdrawal in the upcoming days to the LUC and Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC).
LUC Executive Officer Anthony Ching said the OEQC will decide MPL’s next step. The expected outcome will be for MPL to file a new Draft EIS, according to Ching.