Here in Hawaii, much of the talk is about the Hawaiian Island ferry service that was supposed to start up this summer. Most of you who have not spend much time here would probably expect that there already exists some kind of ferry service between the islands. But for some reason, there is no such service. Lacking you own boat, the only way to get to the island that I can see right across the water (I can see Maui right now from the north shore of the Big Island of Hawaii) is for me to drive forty miles south to an airport, get on an airplane, fly to the Maui airport, and then drive tens of miles to my destination. Those of you who live in San Francisco, imagine if the only way to get to Oakland were by airplane. One would think a ferry service would not only be a great service for residents and tourists, but would be a huge environmental benefit, giving folks an alternative to driving and flying.
Well, not according to the Sierra Club, which has sued to block the ferry service on environmental grounds. Of course, absolutely everything Hawaii uses comes in by ship, and there are always ships coming in and out of port, not to mention hundreds of fishing boats. But we just can't have this one extra boat. It makes much more environmental sense to the Sierra Club that people drive miles and miles to an airport and fly between the islands than to take a sensible ferry.
Note, by the way, as an added libertarian bonus, the ferry service seems to be entirely for-profit and does not appear to involve any major government subsidies. Though I could be wrong about that, there are always hidden ways to subsidize such efforts.
Update: The main reason for opposition is that the ferry will make it easier for "undesirable" people to come to Maui and make the place less, uh, desirable. First, it is unclear to me why the ferry service should be held accountable for future environmental damage that might be committed by its passengers - certainly airlines are not held to the same standard. Second, this is snobbery, not environmentalism. It is the same argument that prevented the red line in Boston from being extended to Lexington -- the upscale residents didn't want an easier path for the undesirables to get in. So now Lexington residents have to drive for miles if they want to ride the train. My sense is that this kind of faux environmentalism has become a very popular way for the reach to keep the middle class and poor at bay. See: Hamptons.