Surfrider’s Oahu Chapter Celebrates A Victory

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in favor of protecting the North Shore of Oahu’s sensitive coastal environment by requiring the Kuilima Resort Company to supplement the 25 year-old environmental impact statement (“EIS”) that was to be used for Turtle Bay Resort expansion.

The original 1985 environmental assessment was held to be outdated because of: (1) the subsequent traffic impact projections, which were originally only analyzed through the year 2000; (2) new population growth, visitor units and hotel demands; and (3) new reports of monk seal populations residing and pupping in the effected area. The court specifically noted the threats to the endangered monk seal and the threatened green sea turtle species that will likely be impacted due to increased human interaction, which was not a contemplated environmental impact in the original EIS.

Surfrider Foundation’s amicus (or “friend of the court”) brief to the Hawaiian State Supreme Court supported the Plaintiffs’ appeal by Keep North Shore Country and the Sierra Club to require a Supplemental EIS that would reflect significant changes to the environment and surrounding community. The High Court agreed with Plaintiffs and Earth Justice attorneys, who authored the amicus brief, in reversing the Intermediate Court of Appeals (“ICA”) ruling. Under the restrictive ICA interpretation, a public agency would not currently be required to do supplemental analysis when the intensity of an environmental impact changes. The Supreme Court reversed this narrow ruling in order to require assessment of new evidence and reports on traffic, species and community changes.

“This is a wonderful victory for the North Shore Community and the future of environmental protection laws in the State of Hawaii,” says Angela Howe, Surfrider Foundation’s Managing Attorney. “The Hawaii Supreme Court has made it clear that new circumstances and new information, especially with the passage of time, must be taken into account for projects to fully comply with the Hawaiian Environmental Policy Act.”

“For years, Surfrider’s Oahu Chapter has been working with other groups like the Defend Oahu Coalition to stop the Kuilima Resort’s massive and unreasonable expansion plans,” says Stuart Coleman, Surfrider’s Hawaii Coordinator. “Along with filing an amicus brief in support of Keep the North Shore Country, the Chapter also directed a $10,000 donation from Barefoot Wines to the cause. So we were stoked to hear the Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision and see justice served in protecting our coastal environment!”

About Surfrider Foundation

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 50,000 members and 90 chapters worldwide. For more information on the Surfrider Foundation, go to surfrider.org and surfrider.org/oahu.