As energy prices continue to climb and Hawaii continues to import a large majority of its food, Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (HI-02) today unveiled her plan to build a more sustainable future for the state.
"Hawaii may be dependent on imports for food and energy, but we are not a dependent people," said Congresswoman Hirono. "Last month, I met with agriculture and clean energy leaders across our state who want to see a future where the dollars we spend on energy and food stay in
Hawaii. They see the value in creating local jobs to produce that energy and food. That's why we have to accelerate our progress to make Hawaii more sustainable. Doing so will help families across our state and our country while also helping to protect our precious natural resources and beautiful natural places.
"Unfortunately, especially when it comes to developing clean energy, too many in Congress disagree. They want to pursue an energy policy that's outdated and wrong. Just look at the budget passed by House Republicans -- it would continue giving the oil companies billions in
subsidies yet cut investments in clean energy that have helped Hawaii companies and provide a path to energy independence.
"We need a different approach. Based on my conversations with stakeholders, we're unveiling this plan on what Hawaii -- and the nation -- needs from Washington to become more self-sustainable."
Congresswoman Hirono's four point energy sustainability plan embraces the challenge of energy independence as a way to create jobs and build a new economy for Hawaii:
1. End the $4 billion per year in subsidies to the oil companies and increase investments in a clean energy economy that creates jobs in Hawaii.
2. Help our families manage prices at the pump by supporting public transportation, cracking down on speculation, and in limited, targeted circumstances release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
3. Train our workers for the clean energy jobs of tomorrow.
4. Help families and businesses reduce costs and better manage energy use by increasing energy efficiency.
"In Hawaii, we know what the future looks like a lot sooner than the rest of the country," said Warren Bollmeier, president of the Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance. "The path our nation needs to take is one where we level the playing field for clean energy. A plan like this that looks to the future and helps invest in a wide range of clean energy options is how we'll make Hawaii energy self-sustainable.
"People in Hawaii know that we can't remain dependent on imported oil for our energy needs. Pacific Biodiesel has shown that homegrown renewable energy companies can be sustainable--and grow and create jobs here in Hawaii. Congresswoman Hirono's plan is about laying the groundwork for a sustainable economy that supports these types of businesses, engages all stakeholders, and helps to keep us focused on continuing the progress we've made together," said Kelly King, vice president of Pacific Biodiesel.
"Making more energy in Hawaii keeps more dollars in Hawaii. The same is true when it comes to our food," said Congresswoman Hirono. "Our agriculture sustainability plan will help boost our local food production to help us build a stronger Hawaii that is less dependent on the mainland."
Congresswoman Hirono's four point agriculture sustainability plan looks to help provide a solid foundation for farming in Hawaii and grow this industry:
1. Assist in meeting the basic needs for Hawaii's agriculture industry by helping deliver water to farms and ranches; continuing research on Hawaii pests, diseases and crops; and helping overcome high production costs.
2. Help encourage production of more of Hawaii's food by helping farmers find a market that covers their costs and returns a reasonable profit. Also, help "grow" more farmers.
3. Support our agricultural exports that provide jobs here by advocating for the continuation of the U.S. sugar program and crop insurance programs that help the macadamia nut and coffee industries.
4. Help support new opportunities in agriculture like agritourism that strengthen the Hawaii brand.
"This won't be an easy task and we don't expect this to happen overnight, and we know that energy and agriculture sustainability aren't the whole story," said Congresswoman Hirono. "We need to continue to address issues like clean water for our families, and promoting ways to protect the quality of life we treasure. This will all take a lot of laulima -- cooperation. It's heartening to see so many people come together to share their ideas with us as we developed
this plan. We also see this as just the beginning. This plan is a living document and we welcome more feedback. That's the only way we're going to move Hawaii forward -- with all of us working together to do so."