Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s campaign for governor has questioned former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s support for removing a federal ban on offshore oil drilling, pointing to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an example of the danger.
Information about Abercrombie and offshore drilling has been posted on a new website created by the Hannemann campaign called "The Real Neil." The website notes that environmentalists warned of the risks of drilling for decades and backed stronger regulations, while Abercrombie in 2008 proposed removing a federal moratorium.
Abercrombie wanted to dedicate royalties from limited oil and natural gas exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf to help the country move toward clean energy and environmental sustainability. The proposal was part of a bipartisan clean-energy compromise from Abercrombie and U.S. Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa.
Abercrombie’s campaign has said his opponent is "attempting to tie Neil to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico — a disaster attributable to the dismantling of regulation that took place during the Bush administration — by distorting the complex issue of national energy policy in order to make a political attack."
"Whether you agree with Neil on every issue or not, you always know where he stands and that he is always thinking of the public interest even when the solutions aren’t easy."
Carolyn Tanaka, a spokeswoman for the Hannemann campaign, said the campaign is not suggesting Abercrombie’s position on drilling is related to the BP disaster. She said the website (therealneil.org) was established to give voters information so they can make decisions in the Democratic primary for governor.
"Abercrombie’s vote on this issue and other issues allow the people of Hawaii to make up their own minds about his decision-making process, his values and his approaches to things like energy and the environment, two extremely important issues for Hawaii," Tanaka said in a written response to questions about the website.
Hannemann’s position, she said, is that offshore drilling must be subject to strong safety regulations that are strictly enforced. He also believes drilling companies must invest in new technology to prevent accidents in deep-water operations.
The Hannemann campaign also confirmed yesterday that a campaign volunteer, who works as a special adviser attached to the city Department of Information Technology, was responsible for a parody website that savagely mocked Abercrombie.
Tanaka said Keith Rollman, the campaign volunteer and city adviser, created the "Atomic Monkey" website on his own time and without the campaign’s approval. The website, which has been taken down, included a disclaimer stating that it was not operated or financed by Hannemann or any other candidate for public office.
"Given his volunteer status with the campaign, it was pointed out to him that this type of website could be misconstrued," Tanaka said.