Environmental Chief Tours Maui Biodiesel Plant

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson was on Maui today, making the Pacific Biodiesel refinery his first stop after a breakfast meeting in Wailea. Located at the Central Maui Landfill, the almost 10-year-old biodiesel production plant is the oldest continuously operating biodiesel refinery in the U.S.

I was impressed by how interested everyone was in our little Maui plant, Robert King said. It’s small, but it’s real, he added. There is a lot of speculation in this industry right now, and projections of huge 30 million gallon per year biodiesel production facilities. We try to keep focused on local production and what we can do for the community.

King and his wife, PB Marketing Director Kelly King, met the Administrator and his EPA entourage, along with the crew of the biodiesel plant and the owner and manager of Maui EKO Systems which also operates at the landfill. It was a beautiful clear Maui morning which didn’t even require the use of face masks, joked King. Kelly King explained that when initially contacted about the visit, she had tried to offer a tour of the Sand Island plant on Oahu but was told Mr. Johnson would not be visiting that island. The Oahu plant is bigger and in cleaner surroundings, she explained.

We were a bit nervous when a few of the entourage came out scouting the site the previous day that they would change their minds about the tour, Ms. King shared. But they were actually excited and explained that Mr. Johnson was first a scientist and would really be interested in the equipment, the lab and the whole process. They are a very hands-on agency and told us they spend a lot of time in places like this [the landfill].

Johnson spent about 45 minutes at the site, touring the processing tanks and lab and discussing the potential of biodiesel in Hawaii and the U.S. In attendance were representatives from EPA Regions 9 and 10 as well as folks from the Administrator’s D.C. office and Secret Service agents.

Robert King noted that they were all very supportive of growing the biodiesel industry in Hawaii and Johnson asked about the next steps. The idea of fuel crops in our state has been getting a lot of attention lately, King explained to the EPA group, �but we need some real support. We should have started this effort long ago instead of waiting for the eventuality of high petroleum prices to finally wake us up.

Pacific Biodiesel, Inc. is recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Biodiesel Board as an industry pioneer. In 1995, responding to local concerns over the discarded grease clogging the Central Maui Landfill, Mauian Robert King, owner/operator of King Diesel, used his expertise and contacts to create the first biodiesel processing plant in the Pacific Rim and the first retail biodiesel pump in the U.S. The Maui plant annually produces up to 200,000 gallons of premium fuel for diesel engines while diverting from the landfill over 5,000 tons of used cooking oil and grease trap oil.

Plant Manager Carl Nagata began production for Pacific Biodiesel in 1996 and was the first employee of the company which now employs about 20 persons statewide. Nagata has plans to relocate later this year to run the Pacific Biodiesel Texas plant at Carl’s Corner, TX. The Texas plant will be PB’s second biodiesel refinery to include singer/actor and local resident Willie Nelson as a partner.

Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning, renewable alternative fuel produced in Hawaii from 100% recycled vegetable oil. Biodiesel is safe for all diesel engines and has been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a fuel and a fuel additive. It can be used pure, or blended at any percentage with petroleum diesel, and requires no costly engine conversions. Even in a 20% blend, as is used by Maui County and most large fleets that are burning biodiesel, there are significant reductions in smoke, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and carbon monoxide. For more information, log on to Pacific Biodiesel’s website, www.biodiesel.com.

Submitted by Kelly King
Marketing and Communications
For more information on biodiesel, call Kelly King at 808-283-1954
For more info on the EPA visit, contact Brian McNabb, Exec. Asst. to the Administrator, 202-436-2506