Neil Abercrombie on Environment
Democratic Governor; previously Representative (HI-1)
Food labeling good, but not at expense of small businesses
Q: Where do you stand on labeling of genetically engineered food and pesticide regulation? Are these public safety issues, or are the dangers exaggerated?
ABERCROMBIE: It's about balance. I fully support consumers' right to know what's in their food.
However, we must be sure that this effort meets legal and constitutional requirements and does not come at the expense of small businesses. Small retailers, distributors, and food manufacturers should not be penalized by food labeling requirements.
That's why I'm working with my good friend Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin to learn from his state's experience of having passed one of the first laws in the country on this issue. I'm also looking to the federal government for guidance and leadership on
IGE: I support the right to know what is in our food, but labeling should be addressed at the federal, not the state level, so that Hawaii's farmers, retailers and consumers are not subject to additional costs.
Source: Honolulu Civil Beat Q&A on 2014 Hawaii gubernatorial race
, Jul 23, 2014
New Day Work Projects: transit-oriented development
I will convene a group of experts and University officials to consider the future of sports & the future of development on Oahu to make a definitive decision on Aloha Stadium and any future stadium we might build. Other than maintenance related to health
and safety, I will divert all other capital improvement dollars for Aloha Stadium to other projects. Right now, multimillion dollar plans to extend the life of Aloha Stadium by 20 years could take 40 years to implement. It is time to reprioritize. The Ne
Day Work Projects will look to the future and what our community and economy will look like decades from now. For example, as Honolulu moves on its transit plans, the state will actively support attractive, sustainable transit-oriented redevelopment. The
legislature has proposals on these concepts, including looking at density rights and other zoning initiatives. I look forward to participating in the discussion and moving quickly. The people of Hawaii are going to get to work and build our future.
Source: 2011 Hawaii State of the State Address
, Jan 24, 2011
Voted YES on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program.
Congressional Summary:Emergency supplemental appropriations of $2 billion for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Program.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. OBEY (D, WI-7): The cash for clunkers program has proven even more wildly popular than its strongest supporters had predicted. Just last month, Congress passed the program, which provided up to $4,500 if you trade in your old gas guzzler for a new car that gets better mileage. That was done in the hopes of spurring some new car sales and encouraging people to be a little more environmentally friendly. We provided $1 billion in the supplemental to get it going, enough for about 250,000 sales--which was just about exhausted in one week. This bill transfers $2 billion from the Department of Energy's Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee program, which doesn't expect to award funding until late next year.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LEWIS (R, CA-41):
In the majority's haste to slam legislation with no time for consideration or amendments, we are now seeing the effects of such shortsighted martial law tactics.
Senator Feinstein tried to negotiate some changes to improve the program but was told that it was this way or the highway. Not one hearing on the Cash for Clunkers program, not one hearing on how the first billion dollars has been spent, not one hearing on how much money the program will need to get through the fiscal year.
Many of my colleagues will say, This is a great program, and it is necessary for the revitalization of the car industry. I'm not really going to argue with those goals. However, are we sure this program is working like it's supposed to? I don't think so. This program has only been up and running 1 week. If that is how the government is going to handle billion-dollar programs affecting all Americans, I ask, Whatever will we do if the administration takes control of our health care system?
Reference: Cash for Clunkers bill;
Bill H.R. 3435
; vote number 2009-H682
on Jul 31, 2009
Voted YES on protecting free-roaming horses and burros.
- Ensure that acreage available for wild and free-roaming horses and burros is at least equal to the acreage where they were found in 1971
- update the inventory of such horses and burros annually
- maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on lands where such horses and burros are found
- establish sanctuaries for such horses and burros
- research and implement enhanced fertility control for mares & stallions.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. NICK RAHALL (D, WV-3): Earlier this year, the BLM made a truly shocking announcement. This Federal agency announced future plans to destroy, i.e., slaughter, 30,000 healthy wild horses and burros entrusted to their care by the American people. How in the world can a Federal agency be considering massive slaughter of animals the law says they are supposed to be protecting? The bill before us gives the agency as many options as possible to avoid destroying these animals.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. DOC HASTINGS (R, WA-4): Across our Nation, Americans are struggling to pay their bills; 9.5% of Americans are out of work. With this backdrop, what is the response of this Democrat Congress to record unemployment and skyrocketing deficits? Their response is to create a $700 million welfare program for wild horses and burros. If the American people want an illustration of just how out of touch this Congress has become on spending, they need to look no further. In the last Congress, the House passed legislation to ban the commercial slaughter of wild horses and burros, that cost taxpayers less than $500,000 a year. Now we're looking at a bill that, again, bans slaughter of these animals but then proceeds to spend $700 million to create a new welfare program for wild horses. Republicans are focused on creating the jobs in this country, but this Democrat Congress seems to be more worried about wild burros and wild horses.
Reference: Restore Our American Mustangs Act;
; vote number 2009-H577
on Jul 17, 2009
Voted YES on environmental education grants for outdoor experiences.
Requires Environmental Education and Training program grantees to:
- ensure that environmental education programs and curricula advance the teaching of interdisciplinary courses that include strong field components;
- bring teachers into contact with working environmental professionals;
- encourage individuals traditionally underrepresented in environmental careers
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. JOHN SARBANES (D, MD-3): This bill creates a new National Capacity Environmental Education grant program for which education associations apply competitively for grants that would fund model programs that get children into nature and really have them experiencing the environment.
Rep. BUCK McKEON (R, CA-25): This bill incorporates scientifically-based and technology-driven teaching methods into environmental education. Unfortunately, the new National Capacity Environmental Education Program is duplicative of the existing
environmental education program already being run by the EPA. Still, I do not intend to oppose its passage.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): H.R. 3036 continues our Nation down the ill-fated road of shifting control of school curricula away from the parents and teachers and local school boards who best know what their children need into the hands of Federal Government and its one-size-fits-all approach. To best serve our children's educational needs, local school boards need flexibility to target resources where they are needed most. The needs of individual school districts are not homogenous and are most certainly not best understood by bureaucrats in Washington. This bill represents a step in the wrong direction. Forcing local school districts to direct scarce resources away from core curricula to serve a political agenda will only further suppress the academic performance of America's next generation.
Reference: No Child Left Inside Act;
; vote number 2008-H614
on Sep 18, 2008
Voted YES on $9.7B for Amtrak improvements and operation thru 2013.
- Authorizes appropriations for FY2009-FY2013 for Amtrak capital and operating grants; Amtrak repayment of long-term debt and capital leases; and the rail cooperative research program.
- Authorizes grants for the Next Generation Corridor Train Equipment Pool Committee.
Proponents argument for voting YEA: Rep. OBERSTAR: America is on the threshold of a "renaissance'' for intercity passenger rail that approaches the enthusiasm of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Last year, Amtrak set a ridership record for the fifth year in a row, exceeding 25.8 million passengers. Its ticket revenues rose 11 percent to more than $1.5 billion, the third straight year of revenue growth. This record of achievement is even more impressive considering that for the past eight years Amtrak has contended with an Administration committed to its bankruptcy.
Indeed, these achievements are occurring when there is a greater need than ever for alternatives to our congested highways and skies. To alleviate this congestion and strengthen our energy security, we need to invest in intercity passenger rail.
Other countries already make an annual commitment to intercity passenger rail. In 2003 alone, France invested $10.6 billion in its rail system; Germany invested $12.4 billion; and the United Kingdom invested $7.8 billion. China plans to spend a total of $162 billion from 2006 through 2010 to expand its railway system. This bill authorizes $14 billion over 5 years:
Reference: Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act;
; vote number 2008-400
on Jun 11, 2008
- $6.7 billion for capital grants
- $3.0 billion for operating grants
- $2.5 billion for 80% matching grants to States to pay for the capital costs of facilities
- $1.75 billion to finance 11 authorized high-speed rail corridors
Voted YES on increasing AMTRAK funding by adding $214M to $900M.
Voting YES on this amendment would restore $214 million in funding for AMTRAK, bringing the total annual expenditure for AMTRAK to $1.114 billion. The chairman of the Railroad Subcommittee explained the increase as follows:
Opponents of the amendment say that it would increase funding for Amtrak by gutting and eliminating critical programs, including safety programs, resulting in reductions in force at several agencies.
Reference: Department of Transportation appropriations;
Bill HR 5576 Amendment 1008
; vote number 2006-263
on Jun 13, 2006
- Unlike aviation, highways and transit, there is no dedicated funding for investing in our Nation's passenger rail service. This amendment restores $214 million to the Amtrak account, taking it to $1.114 billion, which is still about $300 million less than we had during the course of last year's discussion.
- Last year the President sent up a budget of zero for Amtrak. We had an amendment process that we went through this time. This time we are up to $900 million in the bill [without this amendment].
- But if you look at that $900 million, there is only $500 million for capital expenditures, out of which has to come a debt service of $280 million, which only leaves $220 million for the capital needs of this country for Amtrak, for passenger rail.
- There is nothing for
operation, and I know that the response to that is going to be that there are some incentive grants in the bill.
Voted YES on barring website promoting Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.
An amendment to prohibit funding the "Yucca Mountain Youth Zone" website. Voting YES indicates opposition to using Yucca Mountain as the national nuclear waste repository. The amendment's sponsor says:
I would like to introduce the American people to the newest member of the Bush administration's energy policy team. His name is Yucca Mountain Johnny. He is the star of the Energy Department's Yucca Mountain Youth Zone Web site devoted to brainwashing school children into believing that burying the Nation's nuclear garbage 90 miles from Los Vegas is safe.
- The Web site features games and activities to make high level nuclear waste fun. High level nuclear waste is not fun. It is dangerous, and the Department of Energy should not be using taxpayer money for a propaganda tool.
- I would probably not be as upset with Joe Camel, excuse me, Yucca Mountain Johnny, if there was a more balanced approach on this Web site. It doesn't talk about the potential of accidents or being an inviting target for
terrorists. It doesn't talk about the fact that Yucca Mountain is in a volcanic and seismic zone area. It doesn't say anything about the existence of safer and cheaper alternatives.
- Among Yucca Mountain Johnny's witty sayings, he says, "The worst mistake is never making one." Well, Yucca Mountain is a mistake. This Web site is a mistake. Yucca Mountain Johnny is a mistake, and to promote the proposed nuclear waste repository to our children under the guise of education is a big mistake.
The amendment's opponents respond:
Reference: Energy and water development appropriations bill;
Bill HR 5427 Amendment 919
; vote number 2006-200
on May 24, 2006
- To my knowledge, nobody has questioned the accuracy or truth of what is on the Web site. My guess is that most of the children that access this website use it for term papers and papers in their classrooms that they have to do on nuclear power.
- Whether you oppose or support the repository, we should at least want the facts out to our children and adults who wish to use that same Web site about just what exactly it is.
Voted YES on deauthorizing "critical habitat" for endangered species.
To amend and reauthorize the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to provide greater results conserving and recovering listed species, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act;
Bill HR 3824
; vote number 2005-506
on Sep 29, 2005
- Repealing the authority to designate an area as “critical habitat” for an endangered species
- Requiring the Secretary of the Interior to create “recovery plans” within two years of classifying species as endangered or threatened
- Allowing recovery agreements with private citizens whose land may be part of a species recovery plan
- Issuing grants to support private property owners who voluntarily help to increase the number of endangered or threatened species on their private land
- Providing compensation in an amount no less than fair market value to private landowners who have had regulation imposed upon their land
- Calling upon the Secretary to submit an annual cost analysis of the previous years spending to Congress, including the amount of Federal and State funds used for each species
Voted NO on speeding up approval of forest thinning projects.
Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would reduce and expedite (speed up) environmental and judicial reviews of forest thinning projects. The bill would authorize $760 million a year from fiscal 2004 to fiscal 2008. The Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service would have the authorization to remove vegetation that could cause or assist the spread of wildfires, disease or insect infestation. All forest thinning project would come after public meetings had been held. Forest thinning would be restricted to land that is within a 1.5 miles of at-risk communities , high-risk land that serves as a home for threatened and endangered species, high-risk land in the area of municipal water sources and and high-risk land that is specifically susceptible to disease or insect infestation.
Reference: Healthy Forests Restoration Act;
Bill HR 1904
; vote number 2003-656
on Nov 21, 2003
Establish a grassland reserve program to conserve grassland.
Abercrombie co-sponsored establishing a grassland reserve program to conserve grassland
Establishes a grassland reserve program for land that is or has historically been natural grass or shrubland and has significant potential for animal or plant restoration. Sets forth provisions respecting landowner easement payments and permitted and prohibited practices.
Congress finds the following:
Source: Grassland Reserve Act (H.R.1689) 01-H1689 on May 2, 2001
- Vast grassland once provided critical habitat for complex plant and animal communities throughout much of North America.
- Today, grassland areas have been largely converted to other uses, threatening and eliminating plant and animal communities unique to North America.
- A significant portion of the remaining grassland is on working ranches.
- Ranchers have an economic interest in preserving the remaining grassland as forage for their livestock.
- Many ranchers are also concerned about losing the open spaces and 'big sky' central to the ranching way of life.
Apart from the loss of grassland, ranches themselves have steadily disappeared through the years and are likely to disappear at a faster rate in the immediate decade as a generation of ranchers reach retirement age.
- Ranch land provides important open-space buffers for animal and plant habitat.
- Ranching forms the economic backbone for much of the rural area of the western United States.
- Currently, there are no Federal programs that conserve grassland, ranch land, or other land with comparable high resource value, other than wetland, on a national scale.
- A grassland reserve program would provide important economic assistance to ranchers and other agricultural producers who may be struggling financially and who may voluntarily decide that participating in the program would be to their advantage.
Prohibits commercial logging on Federal public lands.
Abercrombie co-sponsored prohibiting commercial logging on Federal public lands
Congress finds the following:
- Forest Service polls show that a strong majority of the American people think that natural resources on Federal public lands should not be made available to produce consumer goods.
- Recreation and tourism in the National Forest System creates over 30 times more jobs, and generates over 30 times more income, than commercial logging on national forests.
- Timber cut from Federal public lands comprises less than 5% of US annual timber consumption.
- The vast majority of America's original pristine forests have been logged, and what little primary forest that remains exists almost entirely on public lands.
- It is in the interests of the American people and the international community to protect and restore native biodiversity in our Federal public lands for its inherent benefits.
- Commercial logging has many indirect costs which are very significant, but not easily measured, such as flooding damage, damage to
the salmon fishing industry; and harm to the recreation and tourism industries.
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
- Prohibits commercial logging and timber sales (with specified exceptions) on Federal public lands, with a two-year phase-out for existing contracts.
- Provides for payment of relinquished contracts.
- Establishes a National Heritage Restoration Corps to restore (and monitor) such lands to their natural pre-logging condition.
- Sets forth provisions respecting forest fire and hazardous fuel reduction.
- Provides for worker retraining of eligible persons whose jobs have been lost due to terminated timber and logging contracts.
- Sets forth fund allocation provisions, including amounts for an Environmental Protection Agency investigation of non-wood paper and construction alternatives.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness; never came to a vote.
Source: National Forest Protection and Restoration Act (H.R.1494) 01-HR1494 on Apr 4, 2001
Rated 85% by the LCV, indicating pro-environment votes.
Abercrombie scores 85% by the LCV on environmental issues
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders.
The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.
Source: LCV website 03n-LCV on Dec 31, 2003
Promote conservation of rare felids & canids.
Abercrombie co-sponsored promoting conservation of rare felids & canids
To assist in the conservation of rare felids and rare canids by supporting and providing financial resources for the conservation programs of nations within the range of rare felid and rare canid populations and projects of persons with demonstrated expertise in the conservation of rare felid and rare canid populations. Congress finds the following:
Source: Great Cats and Rare Canids Act (H.R.1464) 07-H1464 on Mar 9, 2007
- Many wild populations of felids and canids, once considered common, are in decline, and many have declined to the point that their long-term survival in the wild is in serious jeopardy.
- Of the 37 wild felid species worldwide, all are currently recognized as species in need of protection. Of the 35 wild canid species worldwide, nearly 50% are recognized as in need of such protection.
- In addition to their intrinsic value, felids and canids are important aesthetic, economic, and ecological global resources that need to be conserved.
Large felids and canids are considered both keystone and indicator species. Healthy populations of these species act as an important indicator of the integrity of entire ecosystems.
- Rare felids and rare canids face an array of threats, including loss of habitat and natural prey, intentional and unintentional takings by humans, disease transmission, and a vast number of other threats. These threats need to be addressed in a coordinated fashion.
- The purposes of this Act are to provide financial resources and to foster international cooperation (1) to restore and perpetuate healthy populations of rare felids and rare canids in the wild; and (2) to assist in the conservation of rare felid and rare canid populations worldwide.
- Related bills: H.R.1913, S.1033
Make tax deduction permanent for conservation easements.
Abercrombie signed H.R.1831 & S.812
Amends the Internal Revenue Code to make permanent the tax deduction for charitable contributions by individuals and corporations of real property interests for conservation purposes. Known in the Senate as the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2009.
Source: Conservation Easement Incentive Act 09-HR1831 on Mar 31, 2009
Strengthen prohibitions against animal fighting.
Abercrombie co-sponsored strengthening prohibitions against animal fighting
Sen. CANTWELL. I reintroduce today the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007. This legislation has won the unanimous approval of the Senate several times, but unfortunately has not yet reached the finish line.
There is no doubt, animal fighting is terribly cruel. Dogs and roosters are drugged to make them hyper-aggressive and forced to keep fighting even after suffering severe injuries such as punctured eyes and pierced lungs. It's all done for "entertainment" and illegal gambling. Some dogfighters steal pets to use as bait for training their dogs, while others allow trained fighting dogs to roam neighborhoods and endanger the public.
The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act will strengthen current law by making the interstate transport of animals for the purpose of fighting a felony and increase the punishment to three years of jail time. This is necessary because the current misdemeanor penalty has proven ineffective--considered a "cost of doing business"
by those in the animal fighting industry which continues unabated nationwide.
These enterprises depend on interstate commerce, as evidenced by the animal fighting magazines that advertise and promote them. Our bill also makes it a felony to move cockfighting implements in interstate or foreign commerce. These are razor-sharp knives known as "slashers" and ice pick-like gaffs designed exclusively for cockfights and attached to the birds' legs for fighting.
This is long overdue legislation. It's time to get this felony animal fighting language enacted. It's time for Congress to strengthen the federal law so that it can provide as a meaningful deterrent against animal fighting. Our legislation does not expand the federal government's reach into a new area, but simply aims to make current law more effective. It is explicitly limited to interstate and foreign commerce, so it protects states' rights in the two states where cockfighting is still allowed.
Source: Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (S.261/H.R.137) 2007-S261 on Jan 4, 2007
Declare a forest health emergency on federal lands.
Abercrombie co-sponsored declaring a forest health emergency on federal lands
National Forest Health Act: To declare that a forest health emergency exists on Federal lands under their jurisdiction; to carry out accelerated forest health improvement programs to prevent further forest damage and reduce the risk of disaster wildfires on these lands; and to implement management strategies designed to produce sustained, diverse, and healthy forest ecosystems on these lands. The Congress finds the following:
Source: National Forest Health Act (H.R.229) 93-HR229 on Jan 5, 1993
- Forest health emergencies currently exist on many Federal forest lands that have substantial areas of dead and dying trees as a result of drought, insect infestations, disease, fire, windstorm, or other causes.
- There are many complex causes for these forest health emergencies, including historic and recent forest management methods, fire suppression policies, forest-type changes, and climate trends.
When forest health emergencies exist and are allowed to spread, substantial economic losses are sustained, through the loss of timber, watershed quality and performance, recreational opportunities, and fishery and wildlife habitat.
- Federal forest lands subject to a forest health emergency, if properly thinned or otherwise treated to reduce unnatural levels of dry fuel, will have a better chance of resisting insect and disease epidemics, as well as being able to tolerate both prescribed fire and occasional wildfires.
- The removal of dead, dying, and excess live trees on Federal forest lands subject to a forest health emergency, if done expeditiously and with sensitivity to the need to retain some dead wood to help provide stand structure for multi-resource values, can begin the forest health restoration process
Page last updated: Jul 22, 2017