Author Gathering Place

Rep. Galen Fox

Sierra Club ranking
unfair to Republicans

The Sierra Club's House legislative scorecard, issued just as the campaigns begin, is designed to help Democrats. Rep. Cynthia Thielen, a Sierra Club member, who frequently praises the club on the House floor, is ranked behind Democrat Ken Hiraki, famous for frustrating alternative (green) energy. Why is Thielen ranked so low? Because she is Republican.

Of 15 Republicans, 13 rank in the Sierra Club's bottom half. Corinne Ching, like Thielen a Sierra Club member, ranks below Dwight Takamine, about whom the Sierra Club notes, "His Finance Committee failed to forward many important green bills." Sierra Club member Ching below Takamine, the Green Bill Blocker? What gives? Ching is Republican; Takamine a Democrat.

Even Joe Souki, the lowest-ranked Democrat and a known anti-tree hugger, scores 50 percent. Yet only six Republicans outscore Souki, while seven Republicans score from 47 percent to 7 percent!

Are Republicans out to ruin the environment? Or are they graded on a curve designed to elect Democrats?

The Sierra Club scorecard is based on just 10 bills. One bill would raise taxes to support the Natural Area Reserve System. Because the Sierra Club knows Republicans dislike taxes, it picked a tax bill that drew 11 Republican "no" votes. Yet Republicans support full funding for natural areas.

Twelve voted against a bill to cut funding for the Natural Area Reserve System, while all Democrats voted for the cut! House Democrats voted to repeal Gov. Ben Cayetano's automatic approval for business- or development-related permits (HB 1029). But since Democrats had passed automatic approval in the first place, and since repeal died in the Senate anyway, why include HB 1029?

Why not use HB 1294, which requires wider use of environmental assessments? It became law. Because HB 1294 received unanimous Republican backing, so using it wouldn't harm GOP scores!

SB 255 was a flawed effort to block "fake farm" home construction on agricultural land. In its most blatantly partisan action, the Sierra Club helped Democrats defeat Governor Lingle's veto effort to fix mistakes farmers found in the bill. Republicans supported the needed fixes; Democrats supported the flawed original.

SB 1556 was another misguided club effort. To define the public beach "high water" mark, the Department of Land and Natural Resources uses both high tide debris and the vegetation line. But the Sierra Club opposes using vegetation, even though a higher vegetation line means more land for the public. The club tagged "wrong" five Republicans who supported use of both vegetation and debris.

Incidentally, of the 10 Sierra Club bills, SB 1556 and seven others didn't pass. Democratic chairmen killed SB 1556 in conference. Why didn't the Sierra Club attack the chairmen instead of five Republicans with no power to stop the bill?

HB 2166 is another Sierra Club attack on agricultural land housing. Planning agencies and eight Republicans opposed this new definition of agricultural land. Because alien species threaten agriculture more than do gated communities, why didn't the Sierra Club instead highlight HB 1830, which protects agricultural land from alien species? Perhaps because all Republicans supported HB 1830, while Democrat Takamine killed it.

The Sierra Club did condemn Democrat Marcus Oshiro's special interest bill to help his own hospital project -- a bad bill supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans.

Yet how could the Sierra Club ignore SB 2405, which allows construction of a landfill over the Ewa aquifer -- a bad bill passed by Democrats over the opposition of 14 Republicans? Because the club wanted to avoid putting Republicans on the side of pure water while grouping Democrats with water pollution.

It's time for less partisanship on the environment. It's time to stop one party from owning the green umpires.

Rep. Galen Fox is the House Republican leader.


E-mail to Editorial Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --