cartoon by Keith Rollman
cartoon by Keith Rollman

BY KEITH ROLLMAN – Neil Abercrombie’s embarrassing and energetic advocacy for offshore oil drilling.

As the epic disaster in the gulf region continues to unfold, Hawaii’s environmentalists will gather on our beaches for a show of hand-holding solidarity with those battling the relentless tides of oil.

This weekend’s event called “Hands Across the Sand” staged in hundreds of locations around the world and several in Hawaii.  But, it wasn’t that long ago that, Neil Abercrombie, the supposed champion of many local environmental groups, was holding hands with the big oil companies.
In fact, during the last two years of his stint as a U.S. Congressman, Abercrombie raked in $12,500 in contributions from oil and gas interests.

Abercrombie voted in favor of the Energy Act of 2007 (HR6) that “Defines conditions of new leases authorizing oil or natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Neil voted “yes” again in 2008 for HR6899, another offshore oil and gas drilling bill that “Opens areas for oil and gas leasing that were previously part of Outer Continental Shelf Planning Areas…”

Surprisingly for a Democrat, Neil was one of the biggest promoters of expanding risky offshore oil drilling.  He even co-authored the Peterson / Abercrombie “Energy Independence” Bill that was described by the Houston Chronicle as “an expansive offshore drilling plan proposed by a
bipartisan group led by Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., and Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii.”

Neil wasn’t a passive partner in all this either, he actively worked the news and talk show circuit selling the benefits of offshore
oil drilling.   Take for example this exchange with Lou Dobbs:

ABERCROMBIE: All right. This is the energy independence bill, Lou. I am telling you right now that we can set a pace for this country. This is not done with political consultants. There’s been no corporations, no advocacy groups, no leadership groups. This was member-driven
on behalf of the national interests.

DOBBS: Well, that is welcome and rare news to hear, as you know, Congressman.

ABERCROMBIE: And all we have to do, Lou, is say where are you on the energy independence act? We want to know. We’re going to make a judgment on you as politicians, and on whether you’re acting in the national interest on the energy independent bill. There’s more. Watch this hillarious video of Neil pitching his oil drilling bill to Fox News:

At the close of the interview Neil even chirps, “We better get started.” The rest is history.

Neil has enjoyed living in Washington, D.C. for the past 20 years, and the isolation from his constituents has afforded him an ability to obscure many of this actions. He was always close to his political funding sources though, because over half of his money came from the mainland
and special interest PAC’s.

He can’t, however,  run from his long, twenty-year record as a U.S. Congressman.

Hawaii’s environmental communities need to decide whether they are really interested in supporting sustainability and protecting the
environment or are offering themselves up as a “front” for an array of other liberal issues.   Continuing to support candidates like Neil Abercrombie would indicate that the environment might not really be priority number one after all.

This is a guest editorial by Keith Rollman, a volunteer with the Hannemann campaign