Why a senator is talking about ferrying people to Hawaii on giant seahorses

(Image: Sen. Mike Lee/YouTube)
(Image: Sen. Mike Lee/YouTube)
Updated: Mar. 26, 2019 at 6:03 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The sweeping environmental plan dubbed The Green New Deal has sparked lots of controversy ― along with lots of misinformation.

Now, it’s generating some you-couldn’t-make-this-stuff-up debates in Congress.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, the Green New Deal is aimed at combating climate change ― in large part by shifting the nation away from fossil fuels ― and creating new green jobs for American workers. Supporters say it would also generate an economic boost, but critics say it would do the opposite.

And some of them have taken to making claims that don’t pass the smell test.

One of the biggest: That the Green New Deal would end air travel.

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, took to the Senate floor Tuesday to push that misleading conclusion ― in epic fashion and with lots of poster boards.

His visual aids to his fellow members of Congress included ― and if you don’t believe us watch the video ― Ronald Reagan on a velociraptor, Luke Skywalker riding a Tauntaun, and Aquaman on a giant seahorse.

That last reference had a Hawaii connection.

Because, after all, Lee said: How else would you travel to Hawaii if air travel is banned?

“At that distance, swimming would be out of the question. And Jet Skis are notorious gas-guzzlers. No, all residents of Hawaii would be left with … is this,” Lee said, tongue firmly placed in cheek as he pointed to a large poster of Aquaman.

“I draw your attention, Mr. President, to the 20-foot seahorse he is riding.

"Under the Green New Deal, this is probably Hawaii’s best bet. Now, I’m the first to admit that a massive fleet of giant, trained seahorses would be very cool. But we have no idea about scalability or domestic capacity in this sector.”

So, chuckles aside, would the “Green New Deal” actually ban airplanes? No.

Factcheck.org reports that when it comes to transportation, the resolution before congressional lawmakers supports the expansion of electric vehicle production and affordable public transit options.

It also pushes for a build-out of high-speed rail “at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary."

As a train to Hawaii is about as likely as a giant seahorse, air travel isn’t going anywhere.

After Lee’s presentation, Hawaii’s senators weren’t laughing.

In fact, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz took to the Senate floor to excoriate Lee on the spectacle.

“This is the crisis of our generation, but this is not a joke,” said Schatz, D-Hawaii.

“I have to say on behalf of everyone in Hawaii, on behalf of young people who care about this ... this isn’t funny. And this requires the party in charge of the United States Senate to take it seriously.”

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, was also left incensed.

“The truly radical position is the majority leader’s insistence that we stick our heads in the sand ... and do nothing to tackle climate change,” she said, in a speech on the Senate floor.

So where did all the debates leave the Green New Deal? Senators ultimately voted against a procedural motion to take up the nonbinding resolution.

Republicans soundly opposed it and many Democrats said while support some of the ideas, they couldn’t vote for or against it because the plan’s language still hasn’t been finalized.

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