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Salmonson nomination will go to hearing during special session

In an increasingly crowded special session, Abercrombie's nomination for Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control is cause for concern.

Will Caron

The agenda for next week’s special session is becoming increasingly crowded. On Tuesday the governor asked legislators to add three additional measures to the session agenda. Along with these measures, 31 additional gubernatorial nominations will be heard in the senate on Tuesday, October 29th beginning at 10am.

Buried at the very bottom of the list of nominations is one for Genevieve Salmonson as Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC).

Salmonson was appointed interim Director of the OEQC by Governor Abercrombie this past spring after the previous Abercrombie director, Gary Hooser, resigned and was elected to the Kaua‘i County Council instead.

Salmonson previously held this position under two separate administrations: the Cayetano administration and the Lingle administration. It was during her time with the latter administration that she controversially agreed that the Superferry project was exempt from having to provide the State with an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), leading to a long and bitter fight between the State and environmental groups that eventually ended in 2009 when the Supreme Court ruled that the law allowing the Superferry to operate without an EIS was unconstitutional.

Hooser reportedly butted heads frequently with the Abercrombie Administration over environmental policy. Given Salmonson’s prior two appointments to the position and track record of going along with gubernatorial directives, her appointment as interim director and nomination to the full position by Governor Abercrombie may be an attempt to instate a director who will go along with this administration’s environmental policies.

Given that the OEQC is semi-autonomous, deals with quality control and is meant as a check on negative impacts to the environment, Salmonson’s potential appointment is concerning.