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Governor taps state lawmaker for top environmental position

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 03:18 p.m. HST, Mar 06, 2014

State Rep. Jessica Wooley has been named as the new director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Wooley, an attorney known as an environmental advocate, to the post on Thursday. The appointment is subject to state Senate confirmation.

Wooley (D, Kahaluu-Ahuimanu-Kaneohe), the chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee, was first elected in 2008. She defeated former House Majority Leader Pono Chong in a primary in 2012 after she and Chong were placed in the same district when boundaries were redrawn after the census.

"Jessica is knowledgeable and experienced in issues pertaining to the environment, water resources, agriculture and land use," Abercrombie said in a statement. "Her legal and public service background will be a great asset in protecting Hawaii's fragile environment. Her energy and commitment to the issues involved with the OEQC is a big plus for Hawaii."

The OEQC is responsibile for implementing the state's environmental impact statement law and rules. The office does not typically have a high profile, but has been drawn into fights over environmental protection.

Abercrombie withdrew his appointment of Genevieve Salmonson as OEQC director in October after it became apparent she would not be confirmed. Salmonson had served as OEQC director under Gov. Ben Cayetano and Gov. Linda Lingle, but was criticized for her involvement in the Lingle administration's exemption of $40 million in harbor improvements for Hawaii Superferry from environmental review.

Gary Hooser, Abercrombie previous choice for the OEQC, stepped down as director to run for Kauai County Council in 2012. Hooser, a former Kauai state senator, had clashed with some of Abercrombie's aides over environmental policy.

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Puuloa wrote:
Well she's better than Hooser. I heard he was enrolled at the law school and going to school on tax payer dime when he should've been working.
on March 6,2014 | 01:43PM
copperwire9 wrote:
You hear wrong.
on March 6,2014 | 03:19PM
ryan02 wrote:
Abercrombie sure likes to appoint politicians to state positions. I guess the people don't have to "vote out incumbents" because incumbents are being appointed to bigger and better things.
on March 6,2014 | 01:54PM
nonpolitic wrote:
It's called the "I may need votes from the windward side of Oahu for my election" appointment strategy.
on March 6,2014 | 03:05PM
johndoe wrote:
Or I am not safe and may lose the upcoming election so please promote me quick!
on March 6,2014 | 08:23PM
Manoa_Fisherman wrote:
Considering the fact that Wooley is a sitting legislator, she should immediately resign her seat and prevent any possible implication that any of her votes may be considered "bought" by the Governor for her appointment. That way there is no possible conflict of interest in her decisions and her constituents can be represented by a new legislator who is looking out for their interests only.
on March 7,2014 | 12:16AM
Too_Much_Pilikia wrote:
A liberal radical selected to terrorize our farmers.
on March 6,2014 | 02:02PM
Oahuan wrote:
So the governor is tapping her. She has some very low standards.
on March 6,2014 | 03:56PM
MakaniKai wrote:
LOL...thought the same thing!
on March 6,2014 | 04:24PM
johndoe wrote:
The Gov is not the only one tapping her: http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/ID/7334/Henkin-Rumors-of-Hee-Wooley-Affair-Scurrilous.aspx
on March 6,2014 | 08:25PM
localguy wrote:
She is a decent worker. Lets hope in this new position she reviews all sides before making a decision. As in it is not worth wasting millions of tax dollars on an environmental fix which basically just rounds off a percentage point versus making a major eco gain. Majority of environmental issues have been fixed or already in the process. Do it right and look good. Do it wrong and look like Mini Me.
on March 6,2014 | 09:00PM
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