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Two Abercrombie appointees on shaky ground

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Oct 25 2013 05:11:52 PM HST
Updated On: Oct 25 2013 08:43:03 PM HST

Governor Neil Abercrombie appointed Genevieve Salmonson as head of the State Environmental Office, but members of the Sierra Club are speaking out against the appointment.

HONOLULU -

Environmental groups can't forget how a decision to forego an environmental review for super ferry split the community and forced a costly legal battle.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

“Genevieve Salmonson had a substantive hand in making the decision to exempt it from an Environmental Impact Statement  and  started the super ferry fiasco that cost the state millions of dollars and caused a great deal of harm to businesses in Hawaii," said the Sierra Club’s Robert Harris.

Harris is urging a thumbs-down on Salmonson to head the state's environmental office. It is a position she previously held for 8 years.

"When someone like this makes a mistake, they probably should not have another opportunity to head up a major environmental watchdog organization," Harris said.

The Senate's environmental committee has deep reservations about Salmonson's  appointment,  but it remains to be seen whether the governor will considering pulling her name to avoid a possible outright rejection.

Questions are also emerging about an appointment to the State Land Board from a former state land director.

Sen. Laura Thielen told KITV while she believes Shawn Smith would be qualified to serve on a number of positions, she believes the Land Board would not be a good fit.

Thielen pointed to Smith's efforts to pave the way for 80 luxury homes to be built on agricultural land on Kauai's North Shore.

Governor Abercrombie said he continues to support both appointments since Smith and Salmonson are capable and qualified. He is in discussions with the Senate about the level of support for Salmonson.

The governor is also taking some heat for appointments he has failed to make.

There have been two vacancies on the board that oversees Kakaako since June.

Area lawmakers have also been pressing for the spots on the Hawaii Community Development Authority to be filled before the special session, given the volume of highrises slated for the area.

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