Robert Harris, local chapter director of the Sierra Club, did the people of Hawaii a huge disservice with his commentary on former Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s record ("Hannemann lacks ‘green’ cred," Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, Sept. 15).
Harris, whose organization has endorsed Mufi’s gubernatorial opponent, either doesn’t know about Hannemann’s actual environmental accomplishments or simply doesn’t care.
As mayor, Mufi Hannemann demonstrated a consistent record of environmental leadership, to wit, he:
» Was among the first to sign the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, and immediately convened a multi-departmental task force to craft an energy and sustainability policy plan for the city.
» Launched the 21st Century Ahupuaa program, a comprehensive energy and sustainability program with realistic objectives and measurable goals based on the resource management philosophy and practices of our indigenous culture. The city has installed photovoltaic systems at its Halawa baseyard, operates its truck fleet on biofuels, upgraded its air-conditioning for buildings in the civic center, and purchased hybrid buses for TheBus, to name just a few of its achievements.
» Championed rail transit as an environmentally friendly transportation option for our future, to reduce our dependence on costly imported fossil fuel, and to stimulate urban redevelopment instead of low-density suburban sprawl.
» Successfully led the negotiations to preserve Waimea Valley from development and provided city support and funding to set aside Pupukea-Paumalu and Sunset Ranch land holdings as open space for future generations.
» Made citywide curbside recycling a reality, despite the failed efforts of previous administrations.
» Began expansion of the H-POWER waste-to-energy operations and set an ambitious goal of an 80-percent diversion rate from our landfill by 2012.
» Helped keep farms productive by reducing property tax rates on agricultural land.
These are facts.
An example of "failure" Mr. Harris offers is the increased use of electricity at the city over the nearly six years Hannemann was in office. He ignores the fact that new facilities came online as the city grew, and that existing facilities showed a decrease in energy usage due to extensive conservation strategies. In fact, in 2009, the city earned an EPA "Energy Star" for its efforts at Honolulu Hale and Fasi Municipal Building. He also neglects to tell you that the single largest increase in electrical use was for the Sand Island wastewater treatment facility improvements that the Sierra Club asked the city to implement.
Not only does Mr. Harris ignore Hannemann’s exemplary record on the environment, but he distorts other information at a website he is promoting. Instead, visit www.SustainHonolulu.com for a more accurate record of Hannemann’s performance as mayor.
In 2008, Honolulu was ranked 14th of 50 U.S. "Green Cities" by Popular Science. In 2009, Honolulu ranked 17th of 50 largest U.S. cities for sustainability by SustainLane. In 2010, Honolulu ranked third in the Green Cities Index and second in the world for high ecology standards by Mercer.
Mufi Hannemann’s past performance is, indeed, an indicator of what he would accomplish as governor. He is now, and always has been, an innovative champion for our island’s environment and sustainable future.