Whitman Hawaiian Visit Sparks Environmental Spat

Oct. 24, 2002
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman's appearance at a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser dinner for Republican gubernatorial Linda Lingle provoked an attack by Democrats on their environmental records.

"The Republican Bush administration continues to put the nation's and Hawaii's natural environment at risk by protecting special interests and ignoring public support for strong environmental protections and conservation measures," said state Sen. Matt Matsunaga, the Democrats' candidate for lieutenant governor

In separate news releases, Matsunaga and Hawaii Democratic Party Chairwoman Lorraine Akiba attacked the Republicans' environmental records.

Lingle discounted the attacks as frustration on the part of the Democrat's gubernatorial ticket.

"Their only hope at this point is to create doubt and they'll use false information to do it," Lingle said.

Matsunaga said Lingle's environmental record is no different from the Bush administration, "which supports drilling in the Alaska Arctic Refuge."

He noted Lingle's campaign received a $6,000 contribution from Christine Toretti of Pennsylvania, an oil company executive whom he said supports drilling in the refuge.

"Now ask yourself, what would Hawaii's environment look like if Linda Lingle, who is beholden to these and other environmental bandits, is our next governor?" Matsunaga said.

Akiba's release said in March of 2001 Bush broke a campaign promise to reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions because of strong resistance from the coal and oil industries and Whitman said the administration considered an international agreement aimed at reducing global warming to be dead.

While the Democratic ticket of Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and Matsunaga have demonstrated their deep commitment to protecting Hawaii's environment, "with Republican candidate Linda Lingle our environment comes dead last," Akiba said.

Akiba pointed to the Sierra Club's recent statement that Lingle's tenure as Maui Mayor was known for multiple sewage spills, muddied waters and support for rampant development.

Lingle said when she took office in 1990, Maui's sewage system was so bad it was under EPA investigation. Under her administration, it was improved to the highest level treatment in the state and reduced the rate of spills by 95 percent, she said.

Maui also launched a waste recycling effort and Lingle's administration also put a strong emphasis on beach access and acquisition and landbanking, she said.

She pointed to Whitman's efforts as governor of New Jersey that Lingle said resulted in preserving 1 million acres of open space and farm land and led to a substantial reduction in air pollution.'

"She has a tremendous environmental record and I'm proud to have her here," Lingle said.

Lingle said Whitman met with Oahu farmers, ranchers and soil and water conservation experts to learn about Hawaii's unique problems and situations.

As a Republican governor, Lingle said she would have the ability "to have people from the (Bush) administration pay attention Hawaii in a different way than it has in the past, to realize how unique we are and to do something about our concerns."

Source: AP