Monday, 3 November 2008

Hawaiian Electric¹s plans to import palm oil

Hawaii environmental groups to be represented in Illinois protest agribusiness interests in Palm Oil Biodiesel, Rainforest Destruction

Maui Tomorrow renewable energy advocate to join Rainforest Action Network event at Archer Daniels Midland annual shareholders meeting, spreading the word about Hawaiian Electric¹s plans to import palm oil

November 4, 2008 For more
information contact:Rob Parsons,

For Immediate Release

MAUI. A renewable energy advocate from Hawaii is traveling to Decatur, Illinois to join an educational effort to sway a major agribusiness corporation away from harmful impacts associated with widespread mono-cropping of soybeans and palm oil for biofuels.

Former Maui County Environmental Coordinator Rob Parsons will join a protest by Rainforest Action Network at the annual shareholders meeting of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), one of the world¹s agribusiness giants. Parsons, who serves as Executive Vice President of Maui Tomorrow Foundation, Inc., has obtained a shareholder¹s proxy for the meeting, and will address the group.

³We will remind them that soy and palm plantations are among the greatest threats to the world¹s tropical rainforests, said Parsons. ³The expansion of these plantations spells a disaster for these biodiverse forest habitats, indigenous peoples¹ rights, and climate change.²

Hawaii is the most petroleum-dependent state for electrical production, with over 90 percent of the state¹s energy needs coming from imported oil.
Despite abundant potential for solar, wind and wave power, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has spent the past two years supporting proposals to construct two huge biodiesel refineries by Imperium Renewables on Oahu, and by BlueEarth Biodiiesel LLC on Maui.
If constructed, their combined production, 220 million gallons yearly, exceeds the potential output that could be produced in Hawai`i, even if all available statewide agricultural lands were utilized solely for biofuel crops. Thus, the companies are looking to ship palm oil from Malaysia or Indonesia, the world¹s top two producers.

³Switching from imported petroleum to imported palm oil does nothing for Hawaii¹s energy security², said Lance Holter, Chairman of the Sierra Club-Maui Group. ³We have abundant local energy resources we should be utilizing, including solar, wind, ocean thermal, and wave technologies.² ³ADM and other agribusinesses are destroying rainforests and poisoning local communities to increase their profit margins,² said Andrea Samulon, spokesperson for the Rainforest Action Network. ³These irresponsible actions are unacceptable liabilities both for shareholders and for the planet.²

"There is no hope in D.O.P.E. (Dependence On imported Palm oil for Electricity)," said Henry Curtis, Executive Director of Life of the Land.
"It¹s time for HECO to stop the spin. Destroying rainforests, displacing indigenous peoples, and making deals with human rights abusers will not protect our environment or help Hawaii¹s energy security or economy. It will only bring more misery, poverty, and disease to our fragile planet," said Curtis.

Curtis noted that early last month at Public Utilities Commission contested case hearings, it was exposed that Imperium Renewables of Seatlle has shelved their plans to construct a refinery in Hawaii, and their Washington state facility has not produced any biodiesel since last April. Similarly, BlueEarth Biodiesel plans for a refinery on Maui are looking precarious. On October 6th, BlueEarth filed documents in US District Court in Dallas, Texas, citing breach of contracts with HECO and others.

³It is incumbent upon the people of Hawaii to demand local solutions for renewable energy, which in turn will bolster our local economy,² said Parsons. ³Working with groups such as RAN helps spread the word far and wide that continuing rainforest destruction for biofuel production should be stopped immediately. The Hawaii coalition of groups is eager to help work for solutions to saving the world¹s remaining rainforests.²

³Hawai`i has a chance to show the world how sustainable energy production can be done, and that what¹s sustainable can also be profitable², said Parsons. ³Let¹s move away from damaging proposals such as the import of palm oil. This is our golden opportunity to influence our leaders and return the ³power to the people².