Hirono unveils sustainability strategy - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hirono unveils sustainability strategy

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U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono
Ed Case Ed Case

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono said she has a plan to move Hawaii toward energy and food self-sufficiency.

She said the state spends about $5 billion a year on oil for electricity and gasoline.

"Imagine if this money were circulating in our own economy to provide our own energy needs? That's jobs," she said.

Hirono's plan calls for ending millions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies, supporting public transportation, ensuring farms and ranches have water, and helping farmers find a market for their goods overseas.

But Ed Case, who is running against Hirono in the primary election for the U.S. Senate, said her plan for helping farmers disagrees with what she did in Congress.

"Congresswoman Hirono voted against the Korean free-trade agreement that would be a prime export destination for our agricultural products," he said.

Hirono also wants to encourage drivers to get out of their cars by offering some sort of subsidy.

"People pay a lot of money to park their cars downtown," she said. "We could possibly give them some incentives to leave their cars at home."

Hirono said she could help lower gas prices by asking President Obama to release oil from the nation's petroleum reserve.

Case said he can agree with some of her points, but insists his plan is better.

"Absolute investment in renewable energy all the way," he said. "I worked on this throughout the time that I was in Congress. We need to invest very heavily in renewables."

Ted Liu, policy advisor for former Governor Linda Lingle's Republican bid for the Senate, said Lingle's record on energy and agriculture development is proven.

"She launched the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative," he said. "All the progress you're seeing now is a result of that policy. On the federal level she will build on that experience."

Hirono said her energy and food sustainability strategy is a product of discussions with energy advocates and farmers throughout the state, and it's a work in progress.

"None of this will happen overnight," she said.