Hawai‘i State Representatives Cynthia Thielen (R, 50th District: Kailua, Kaneohe Bay) expressed her strong dissatisfaction with the passage of key environmental bills heard in Committee today, noting the vote count shows that Republicans are the “green legislators” advocating for the environment.
During joint decision making by the House Committees on Water, Land & Ocean Resources (WLO) and Energy & Environmental Protection (EEP) this morning, several bills were passed which would have long-lasting impacts on the integrity and preservation of our environmental resources; the Republican Committee members, Representative Cynthia Thielen and Representative Gil Riviere, were the sole voices in opposition.
The bills included HB1813 (exempts any state or county CIP from special management area guidelines and requirements), HB2154 (exempts airports from SMA use permit requirements), and HB2523 (establishes a regulatory structure for the installation and implementation of an interisland high voltage electric transmission cable system and for the construction of on-island transmission infrastructure).
“The Special Management Area bills essentially remove any state or county project from the environmental protections which had been steadfast law and critical to the welfare of our resources,” stated Representative Thielen.
HB2523 (relating to interisland electric transmission cable systems) contained two key areas of language which would place the financial risk and burden on the ratepayers by entitling the electric utility company to recover capital costs for on-island transmission infrastructure, and to recover costs even if they elect not to complete the project, through an automatic rate adjustment and cable surcharge.
“This bill dips deep into the public’s pockets. If we think our electric bill is high now, just wait; this legislation will send it skyrocketing,” Rep. Thielen declared.
Testifiers from government agencies, HECO, and the PUC spoke in support of HB2523, including Governor Neil Abercrombie, however the majority of the submitted testimony was in opposition to the bill.
While all legislators, regardless of party, should be advocating in the best interests of the public and our State resources, today’s Committee hearing showed that the true environmental champions and consumer advocates in the State Legislature are the Republicans.
So Representative Thielen, who is doubtlessly an environmental advocate, gets this strangely non-journalistic pat on the back for opposing a bill that raises revenue, and complicates the construction of a wind farm? She’s a Republican for a reason. Why give her environmentalism credit for something in which the major policy point you site is about economics? Furthermore, this is just as much about control. Representative Thielen is doing an understandable and reasonable job as the opposition party, but such declarative statements make you sound like…a hack Ms. Van Hessen. Stay out of the business of classifying who the true champions are. Of course she opposes steps for the majority party to avoid potential legal roadblocks, because she’s a REPUBLICAN, and she has an interest in stalling opposing legislation. She’s gonna couch it environmental language if she can because environmentalism is the main reason non-Republicans vote for her, if I were to guess. But I can point to legislative territoriality and miserliness as non-green reasons for these positions.
I like Representative Thielen, and approve of her environmentalism, but don’t go so far as to assign her lily white motivations as some sort of bold iconoclast just because she’s a Republican in a Blue state making oppositional sounds.
Why completely ignore the context and purposes of these bills, outside of your narrow point about bold conservatives? This article mentions HB1813 and HB2554, but explains them quite poorly. Why mention them at all if you’re going to site abbreviations, not even explain them, and then barely mention them in the rest of your article? And no quotes, or even links, from the Governor or other supporters of the bill?
It’s funny how Thielen gets so much Green props for doing what sounds like standing in the way of Green power for O’ahu. Nice job on talking about Moloka’i. By the way….
Firstly, you don’t need to tell us the abbreviations of things you aren’t going to later use. Secondly, you can’t just explain your abbreviations halfway. HECO is fine (but some care for non-Hawaiian readers would make sense for an online publication), but the others don’t need to be abbreviated, or should be explained (CIP, in particular). With the case of Special Management Areas, you used the abbreviation first, and then spelled it out later on. It’s unnecessarily confusing to lead so far with the abbreviation.
As for the content, why so obviously partisan? I know your bio describes your history, Ms. Van Hessen, so I would think you’d attempt to more strenuously avoid simply sounding like a mouthpiece. I support Representative Thielen’s environmentalism, but the complaints about these bills are about as Generic Republican/Minority Dissent as you can get. She opposes higher rates and revenue, and she doesn’t like the idea of the Majority party avoiding potential roadblocks with exemptions. I don’t exactly blame her for these positions, but I don’t see much actual Greenness in it.
Also, does this legislation have anything to do with the wind farm they want to build on Moloka’i? It’s hard to tell from the content if Representative Thielen is in fact standing in the way of the process of building a wind farm. That doesn’t sound very Green to me.
Comments are closed.