Hawaii judge dismisses lawsuit against seed company, board
LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — A judge in Hawaii dismissed a lawsuit that sought an environmental review of the actions by a seed company operating on the island of Kauai.
Environmental groups filed a lawsuit after the state Board of Land and Natural Resources in February consolidated two parcels of land leased by Syngenta under a single revocable permit, The Garden Island reported .
The lawsuit claimed that the board’s action violated state law by exempting the company from environmental document preparation and by violating the duty to protect public trust resources.
Judge Randal Valenciano issued the ruling on Thursday that said the state does not require an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment because the company isn’t proposing any changes for how the leased land on western Kauai will be used. The judge did note that should companies like Syngenta propose changes, then the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act will apply.
“There’s no indication that there’s going to be a change in the use,” Valenciano said. “No evidence that the action has changed.”
Paul Minehart, Syngenta’s spokesman, said they believe the permit process was properly handled, and they’re pleased with the court’s action.
While plaintiffs of the lawsuit said that they were disappointed by the ruling and that they plan to appeal, the ruling didn’t go entirely against their efforts.
“This means leases for any new or expanded operations in the future will be required to go through an environmental review process,” said Gary Hooser, president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action. The organization was one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs.
Information from: The Garden Island, http://thegardenisland.com/