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Hawaii governor withdraws appointee for state environmental agency

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie's nominee to the Office of Environmental Quality Control, Genevieve Salmonson, was unlikely to be confirmed by the state Senate, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday. (AP Photo/Oskar Garcia)

HONOLULU — Gov. Neil Abercrombie has withdrawn his nominee to the Office of Environmental Quality Control after environmental and community groups opposed the appointment.

Genevieve Salmonson was unlikely to be confirmed by the state Senate as director of the office, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

Abercrombie spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy said Salmonson asked that her name be withdrawn for personal reasons and the governor respected her wish.

Salmonson had oversight of the office during the Linda Lingle administration and was one of several state officials who played a role in harbor improvements for the Hawaii Superferry project.

The administration exempted $40 million in harbor improvements from environmental review. The state Supreme Court later ruled that was done in error and that an alternative plan by Lingle and the state Legislature was also unconstitutional. The project then ended its operations on the islands.

The director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, Robert Harris, said he looks forward to working with Abercrombie to find the right pick.

"We regret the debate about Ms. Salmonson had to play out in public and we appreciate the leadership she demonstrated in stepping aside," Harris said.

Sen. Mike Gabbard, D-Kapolei, said he hopes the next agency leader will be the best pick possible.

"We received many testimonies expressing concerns about her confirmation and many of my colleagues also had their doubts," Gabbard said.