Colleen Hanabusa's Crazy War Against The Environment
Not one environmental group is backing Hanabusa. Not one progressive group is backing Hanabusa. Not one senator is backing Hanabusa. And the only Members of the House who have been trying to help her are Rahm Emanuel puppet Tammy Duckworth and right-wing warmongers and anti-environment fanatics Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Randy Forbes (R-VA). Yes, two Republicans, that's what she's got… and the Laborers Union backing her because of her support for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Remember, the conservative running against Schatz isn't a Republican. Hanabusa is a New Dem from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, a purely transactional character. Her husband, John Souza, serves as her bagman. Honolulu political insiders know that the two of them are as thick as thieves with real estate developer Jeffrey Stone, who has spent and raised more for Hanabusa's political career than anyone else. She and Souza take good care of her contributors, regardless of environmental impact. In 2011, at a time when Maui’s Hawaiian Cane & Sugar's parent company (Alexander & Baldwin) was one of her largest donors, she voted with her Republican buddies to delay implementation of EPA rules governing air quality in buildings from industrial boiler systems-- two of which Hawaiian Cane & Sugar was using.
Yesterday the Star-Advertiser ran an important piece by Derrick DePledge differentiating between Schatz and Hanabusa on environmental issues. The first paragraph is very ominous for Hanabusa, who has been running away from her repulsive record and trying to twist it out of shape for months: "U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was one of just 41 House Democrats in October 2011 to vote to delay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's tougher clean air standards on industrial boilers." She claims her vote with the Republicans against the EPA was to save the jobs at a sugar mill (and not just for her campaign donors).
In trying to justify her vote against the Clean Air Act, Hanabusa falsely claims that this vote saved the plantation which is total nonsense. Mazie Hirono, Daniel Inouye and Dan Akaka all voted the other way on this bill, and the plantation is still alive and well. The vote clearly demonstrates Hanabusa's total lack of commitment to the environment. Combine this with her vote to clear cut the Tongass Forest and her support for drilling in ANWR and it paints a pretty dim picture of a typical lockstep New Dem shill for Wall Street interests. (As does this poll question from PPP:)
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, Hanabusa's opponent in the Democratic primary, argues that Hanabusa made a false choice between the environment and the economy. The EPA was already in the process of revising the rule based on public feedback.And, of course, it isn't just Schatz who has noticed how dishonest Hanabusa is. In February, 2012, the Center for American Progress commented on this very bill and said it "essentially puts the interests of polluters over that of the health and safety of American families. It creates enormous uncertainty and goes far beyond providing the EPA with extra time to finalize their rulemaking. More troubling, this bill would delay and could substantially weaken long-overdue public health protections by allowing the continued emissions of carcinogens and other toxic air pollutants that can cause developmental harm and other serious health effects." DC daily The Hill noted delved a little deeper into the consequences of Hanabusa's support for the Republican efforts to gut EPA rules. The standards imposed by boiler MACT rules, to limit emissions of harmful air pollutants from industrial boilers and incinerators, they wrote, go after mercury, acid gases and fine particulate matter, or soot, from boilers and incinerators. "The agency said the rules would affect about 1 percent of the nation's boilers. It added the rules would yield public health benefits, preventing 8,100 premature deaths and 5,100 heart attacks per year beginning in 2015."
"The EPA has shown a willingness to be flexible when it comes to Hawaii," the senator said. "And if she wanted to get the attention of the EPA, there was no need to undermine the Clean Air Act and vote with tea party Republicans."
During the primary, the two Democrats have disagreed over votes on Social Security, the Bipartisan Budget Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Arctic drilling. But their dispute over the vote to delay the EPA's rule on industrial boilers, perhaps more than any other, gets closest to illustrating what each candidate believes is their own strength and, more importantly, their opponent's weakness.
…In Hawaii, environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, which has endorsed Schatz, have been concerned about air pollution at the HC&S mill. In addition to emissions from the boilers, HC&S also conducts pre-harvest cane burning.
In June, the state Department of Health cited HC&S for more than 400 alleged violations of state clean air rules between 2009 and 2013 and assessed a $1.3 million penalty. The company has said that any violations were unintentional and plans to contest the penalty as excessive.
Hanabusa considers the vote on the EPA's rule on industrial boilers one of several that demonstrate her independence and her ability to look deeper into federal legislation and see the potential impact on Hawaii. She said she would cast the same vote again today.
"It's not an easy vote to do," the congresswoman said. "But it's a vote that I feel had to be done. And the EPA slowed down. And I think the EPA needed it, too, to be able to slow down what it was doing, because it was under court order. And to come up with a set of rules that I believe is really workable."
Schatz counters that the issue was not as complicated as Hanabusa suggests.
"This was not a close call," the senator said. "Everybody wants to support the (HC&S) plantation, but there's nobody in the congressional delegation that thought it was necessary to undermine the Clean Air statute in order to make sure that it was implemented well."
Schatz said Hanabusa "continues to think that we have to make a choice between a clean environment and a strong economy," adding, "And she's flat wrong. That is not the choice that we have to make. We can and should fight for clean air and clean water and strong economic growth at the same time."
And maybe this is why EMILY's List is rolling out the dirty campaign tactics on behalf of Hanabusa now. It's called desperation-- and it was just released this morning. When Republicans see a poll like this, they whine that PPP is a Democratic-affiliated polling firm. Is that Hanabusa's complaint too?