Hawaii legislature considers 10 percent biofuel mandate

By Ron Kotrba | February 21, 2018

A biofuel blending mandate for motor vehicle fuels is being considered in the Hawaii legislature this session. In January, Hawaii Sen. Lorraine Inouye introduced Senate Bill 2019 (SB2019) that requires transportation fuel sold in the state to contain no less than 10 percent biofuel by volume. On Feb. 9, the transportation and energy committee recommended the measure be passed with amendments.

One of the amendments removed language from the original bill that required a certain amount of biofuel be produced in-state before the measure went into effect. Another amendment defined biofuels to include ethanol and biodiesel.

The bill includes stiff penalties for distributors or others that violate the blend requirement. Violators would be subject to a fine of no less than $2 per gallon of nonconforming fuel up to a maximum of $1 million per infraction.

On Feb. 14, the amended bill passed its second reading in the Senate transportation and energy committee and was referred to the Senate ways and means committee.

Ways and means will hold a public decision-making meeting Feb. 23. According to Pacific Biodiesel, which owns a 5.5 MMgy biodiesel production facility on the big island of Hawaii, oral testimony will not be heard, but written testimony will be considered at the hearing. Testimony can be submitted here by 10 am Hawaii–Aleutian Standard Time on Feb. 22.

“A blending mandate isn't anything new,” said Jenna Long, operations director at Pacific Biodiesel. “Biodiesel mandates are already in place in over a dozen states on the mainland, in various blends from 5 to 20 percent. In Hawaii, a state that was the first in the nation to mandate becoming powered by 100 percent renewable sources, we are lagging behind in showing support for locally produced biofuels.”

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a partnership celebrating its 10th anniversary bringing together business leaders, policy makers and residents committed to energy independence, is leading the way in relieving Hawaii’s dependence on oil by setting goals to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2045. Hawaii is the most fossil-fuel-dependent state in the nation.

“This blending mandate would be a significant boost to the local biofuel industry, which currently does not benefit from government subsidies and other support given to the wind and solar industries,” said Bob King, president and founder of Pacific Biodiesel. “Pacific Biodiesel is proud to play a key role in helping Hawaii achieve a clean, sustainable energy future. The city and county of Honolulu has successfully used our biodiesel in their fleet vehicles for more than 12 years. We need greater support of local renewable energy companies to increase local fuel production and the use of renewable transportation systems in Hawaii.”

Currently, the “effective date” of the mandate is set at 2050, but this will change. “In the Hawaii legislature, this is what is called a ‘defective date,’” King told Biodiesel Magazine. “The purpose is to cause the bill to go to conference committee, even if it should pass both the state Senate and House in its current form. In conference committee they can fix any issues that they deem appropriate and then install a real date, or kill the bill.” King added that the conference committee is not a public meeting.

 

 
 
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