Oral Argument before the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeal
CAAP-13-0002125, Wednesday, March 9, 2016, 9 a.m.
RENE UMBERGER, MIKE NAKACHI, KA`IMI KAUPIKO, WILLIE KAUPIKO, CONSERVATION COUNCIL FOR HAWAI`I, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES, AND CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, Plaintiffs-Appellants, vs. DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES, STATE OF HAWAI`I, Defendant-Appellee.
The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Attorney(s) for Plaintiffs-Appellants:
Paul H. Achitoff and Summer Kupau-Odo of EarthJustice
Attorney(s) for Defendant-Appellee:
William J. Wynhoff, Deputy Attorney General
COURT: Fujise, Leonard, and Reifurth, JJ.
[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]
Plaintiffs-Appellants Rene Umberger, Mike Nakachi, Ka`imi Kaupiko, Willie Kaupiko, Conservation Council for Hawai`i, Humane Society of the United States and Center for Biological Diversity (Appellants) appeal from the Circuit Court of the First Circuit’s (Circuit Court’s) Final Judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee Department of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawaii (DLNR), and against Appellants, and challenge the Circuit Court’s order granting DLNR’s motion for summary judgment and denying Appellants’ motion for summary judgment.
The threshold issue in this case is whether DLNR must require applicants to prepare an environmental assessment pursuant to Hawai`i Revised Statutes (HRS) chapter 343, the Hawai`i Environmental Policy Act (HEPA), before issuing permits pursuant to HRS § 188-31(a) (2011).
HRS § 188-31(a) provides that, upon receipt of a written application, DLNR is authorized to “issue an aquarium fish permit, not longer than one year in duration, to use fine meshed traps, or fine meshed nets other than throw nets, for the taking of marine or freshwater nongame fish and other aquatic life for aquarium purposes.” Environmental assessments are required for “actions” that “[p]ropose the use of state or county lands[.]” HRS § 343-5(a)(2010). Appellants contend that the Circuit Court erred when it concluded that aquarium collection under each DLNR-issued permit is not an applicant “action” that necessitates an environmental assessment under HEPA. Appellees submit, primarily, that HRS chapter 343 is not applicable.