Recently, the Sierra Club made a number of false allegations attacking Mufi Hannemann’s environmental record.
Their allegations can be found on their website, and can also be found below:
Allegation: “Stopping the Kahe Wind proposal”
Reality: As an elected official, Mufi Hannemann has always listened to the needs and desires of his constituents. There were strong concerns regarding the siting of the proposed Kahe Wind Farm by members of the Native Hawaiian community, Leeward Oahu residents, and others. Taking these into account, Hannemann proposed an alternative site in Kahuku for this project. The same article linked to by the Sierra Club makes clear that Mufi Hannemann held no opposition to wind farming in general.
Allegation: “Cancelled curbside recycling programs”
Reality: The same article linked to by the Sierra Club makes it clear that curbside recycling was delayed by a contract challenge. The article also makes clear that, in the meantime, Hannemann developed plans to deploy more white recycling bins at Oahu schools, distribute more 96-gallon green recycling bins to the schools, help the state establish more HI5 redemption sites, and hold a comprehensive recycling fair.
Soon thereafter, a pilot program was established in Hawaii Kai and Mililani to explore the feasibility of curbside recycling, followed by island-wide implementation, which continues to this day.
Indeed, in the August 3 edition of the Star-Advertiser, reporter Gordon Pang writes: “The Sierra Club has set up a website … which seeks to discredit his environmental record. On the issue of curbside recycling, the Sierra Club said Hannemann was opposed to curbside recycling until a City Charter amendment approved by the voters forced him to do it. The Hannemann forces, on a blog on his website titled ‘Fact vs. Fiction – the Sierra Club edition,’ said their candidate should be credited with persuading the United Public Workers union to go along with islandwide curbside recycling.” Pang continues, “But there is no evidence that Hannemann flatly opposed curbside recycling. And some third-party, longtime city observers noted that not only did he negotiate an agreement with UPW that led to islandwide recycling, the Hannemann administration took other steps toward green- and white-waste recycling at schools and businesses before the pilot project got under way.”
Allegation: “Hannemann vetoed efforts to close the landfill”
Reality: The article the Sierra Club linked to in their press release makes the timeline clear. With no viable alternative sites being offered by the City Council, closure of the Waimanalo Gulch landfill by 2008 would have left Oahu without a place to store its trash. Mayor Hannemann’s administration reexamined dozens of possible alternate sites that had been previously identified and dismissed, including the Ameron Quarry in Kapaa and even Central Oahu locations such as Poamoho, and worked with the operators of the landfill to reduce leachate levels and odors, improve grading, reduce litter and implement better record-keeping.
Indeed, Hannemann’s administration worked hard to identify better ways to deal with our island’s garbage, setting in motion a plan to achieve an 85% diversion rate from our landfills. The administration also broke ground for a third boiler at H-POWER, which was a major step toward reducing our reliance on landfills and boosting alternative energy production. With the expansion, H-Power will handle an additional 300,000 tons of ‘opala per year, and produce 8% of Oahu’s electricity needs, which is enough to power 75,000 homes. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers recently named the newly-expanded H-POWER plant as its waste-to-energy facility of the year, adding yet another honor to the plant’s long list of performance, safety, and environmental awards.
It should also be noted that Mufi Hannemann did not promise that he would close the Waimanalo Gulch landfill. It was the administration of Jeremy Harris that made such a promise.
Reality: The testimony the Sierra Club linked to in their press release makes it clear that the City was indeed in favor of the intent of HB 2643, and believed that “encouraging renewable energy is a worthwhile cause.” The administration’s concerns about the bill did not have anything to do with its environmental merits. The administration objected to technical details surrounding the proposed bonds.
Reality: The same article linked to by the Sierra Club notes Hannemann’s commitment to improving Oahu’s sewer infrastructure, including doubling the amount spent on wastewater improvement and repair programs, and allocating half of the city’s construction budget to urgently-needed sewer repairs. Furthermore, the article quotes the then-Executive Director of the Sierra Club, who stated that the “history of neglect by the city” came before Hannemann’s administration. Hannemann also prioritized repairs to our sewer collection system due to a history of spills in prior administrations.
During Hannemann’s time as mayor, sewer main spills were brought to an all-time low and over $1.5 billion was budgeted for sewer infrastructure investments.
Reality: The City provided permitting approvals to the Kuilima Resort subdivision based on the same review process given to other applicants. The same article linked to by the Sierra Club shows that the city’s approval of the Kuilima Resort’s subdivision application “was not arbitrary or capricious” in any way; and reflects that the city’s approval was merely “tentative.”
Interestingly, the article linked to by the Sierra Club in regard to the Koa Ridge project does not mention Hannemann at all, and only mentions that a zoning change would need to be applied for with the city.
Allegation: “Ignored warnings about the sewage mains that burst”
Reality: Mufi Hannemann had long taken the warnings regarding sewer pipes to heart during his time on the City Council and during the 2004 mayoral campaign. The same article cited by the Sierra Club vindicates Hannemann’s efforts to tackle Oahu’s long-neglected infrastructure, saying, “Since Hannemann took office in January 2005, he has asked for $585 million for sewer work in his first two budgets and said that the city had to play catch-up after years of putting off hard decisions.”
As stated above, during Hannemann’s time as mayor, sewer main spills were brought to an all-time low and over $1.5 billion was budgeted for sewer infrastructure investments.