No Tsunami Debris Spotted Yet

Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Bulletin

January 2012

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region 9 and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continue to collaborate with Federal and State partners as well as external stakeholders to assess and monitor the movement of the Japan tsunami marine debris.  Because computer models predicted that debris may begin impacting Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge now (January/February 2012), our recent efforts have focused on monitoring strategies in the vicinity of Midway and the other Northwestern Hawaiian Islands including the Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument.

  • NOAA, USEPA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) collaborated with the US Coast Guard (USCG) on a routine law enforcement flight over the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). USEPA, NOAA and USFWS each sent observers on the USCG flight in January to concurrently look for any marine debris in the area northwest of Midway Atoll. No debris was sighted by the observers. Again, the models predict that the debris may find its way back around from the West Coast to the Islands in 2014.
  • USEPA is continuing discussions with the US Navy regarding possible assistance with debris sightings in other parts of the NWHIs as well as the main Hawaiian Islands and along the West Coast of the U.S. mainland.
  • USFWS is continuing systematic shoreline monitoring and removal of debris on Sand and Eastern Islands on Midway Atoll as well as Tern Island in French Frigate Shoals.
  • USFWS continues to collect marine debris deposition data from Tern Island in French Frigate Shoals.
  • The State of Hawaii continues shoreline marine debris monitoring on Kure Atoll.
  • NOAA continues working to obtain high-resolution satellite imagery of marine debris in the open ocean in areas where models have predicted Japan tsunami marine debris may be.  Results of the first area of imagery review, roughly north of Kure Atoll, revealed no noticeable marine debris.  NOAA has convened a subject-matter expert group in ocean modeling to refine the area in the North Pacific where the debris front would be expected.  Representatives from various agencies and institutions with potentially applicable models are part of this group.
  • NOAA has developed an assessment and response framework for all regions potentially impacted by Japan tsunami marine debris.  The framework is currently focused on the NWHIs and includes various subject matter expert (SME) groups.  The first workshop to discuss Japan tsunami marine debris across the Hawaiian archipelago was held in Honolulu on January 19 and brought experts together to develop contingency plans.  Representatives from 40 management and response agencies and organizations across Hawaii including USEPA, USFWS and USCG, as well as Hawaii State and county agencies and academia participated in the workshop.
  • USEPA and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) are hosting a California Statewide Japan tsunami marine debris planning meeting on February 14 to share information with State and county agencies on what is known about the Japan tsunami marine debris as it heads toward the West Coast and to assist the agencies with contingency planning.  NOAA, USCG, Department of the Interior (DOI) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are invited to attend as well.

Report sightings of potential Japan tsunami marine debris.  Please send information and photos to:
For more information:
The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) can provide information to individuals or groups interested in undertaking shoreline monitoring studies for Japan tsunami marine debris.  Effective monitoring of changes in environmental conditions, such as the abundance of marine debris, requires a good deal of forethought.  For more information or to request a copy of the NOAA MDP Shoreline Survey Field Guide visit
EPA Region 9 Marine Debris
International Pacific Research Center – Tsunami Debris Models _tsunami_debris_news.php

Blue Earth Biodiesel Plant

From Haleakala Times
by Karen Chun

One of the largest biodiesel plants in the U.S. is proposed for Maui. BlueEarth Biofuels will partner with Hawaiian Electric Company to build a 120 million-gallon-per-year plant in three stages. First stage is 40 million gallons earmarked for the Maui Electric Company electrical generators.  Any excess biodiesel will go to other HECO facilities.

The plant will enable MECO to switch from diesel to cleaner-burning biodiesel. MECO already uses biodiesel from Pacific Biodiesel for startups to avoid expensive pollution fines. Biodiesel from sustainably grown crops does not contribute to net CO2 releases nor global warming and it burns 60 percent more cleanly than regular diesel.

A bill to allow the company to borrow $59 million through a state-backed special purpose revenue bond is before the Legislature.

Robert Wellington, BlueEarth co-managing partner, sees the plant as a good match for Maui. The biodiesel process is simple and efficient, requiring less fuel input than ethanol.

Wellington’s partner, Landis Maez, has already relocated to Hawai‘i  and both see this project as a win for the environment and for energy self-sufficiency.

The BlueEarth facility will initially import canola, soy or palm oil from  North America, South America and the Pacific Rim. Wellington says, “We’re hoping that within five years, half the feedstock will be grown on Maui.”
But controversy looms.

Kelly King of Pacific Biodiesel says growing enough feedstock on Maui  is “something which is impossible to achieve.” Her company currently produces about one million gallons of biodiesel on Maui – less than one percent of the proposed BlueEarth plant.

“Statewide the Governor’s Hawai‘i  Biofuels Summit identified 139,400 acres available for biofuels throughout the state, exclusive on non-sugar agricultural lands,” said Wellington.

But supplying just the initial 40 million gallons for the first phase would take 216,000 acres of jatropha or 178,000 acres of kukui – more biofuel land than Hawai‘i  has.  At full capacity the plant would require an astounding 650,000 acres of jatropha feedstock – over four times the amount of biofuel land available in the State.   In comparison HC&S has only 37,000 acres under sugarcane cultivation on Maui.

The most productive oil crop, palm oil, can produce 581 gallons of  oil per acre in good soil with abundant water. Crops such as jatropha (185 gals/acre) and kukui (225 gals/acre) are more suited to Maui’s arid conditions.  Jatropha can be grown on marginal land  and will produce within two or three years. The facility will continue to import feedstock from outside Hawai‘i even if all identified Hawai‘i  land is put into biofuel crops.

An interview with HC&S Director, Energy Development and Planning, Lee Jakeway, revealed that HC&S is currently more focused on their own ethanol production and doesn’t have any present plans to produce oil for the BlueEarth plant. Wellington hopes that will change when the plant is a reality. Jakeway saw several challenges to providing BlueEarth’s vegetable oil requirement locally including water supply, water infrastructure and inadequate land area to produce in the quantities BlueEarth requires.

When asked if he felt local growers could compete on price with foreign palm oil Jakeway indicated that he hadn’t run the numbers but felt it would be “somewhat of a stretch” to think Maui-grown feedstock could be competitive with foreign sources with no import duties applied, even with the proposed subsidized feedstock processing plant.
Wellington stated that local feedstock may not have to compete on price.  “Hawaiian Electric Company’s board recently passed a policy to give preference to locally grown renewable energy feedstocks,” Wellington suggested that perhaps the project-funded  Biofuels Public Trust could provide price supports in addition to oil extraction facilities for local feedstock producers.

Labor, land and water costs will make local bio-oil more expensive than imported unless import duties are enacted. There is no guarantee that the Public Trust fund will have enough money to enable local growers to compete.

If a portion of the feedstock were grown on Maui, it would require a processing plant be built and a delay of from two-ten years while the initial crop grows to seed-bearing age. HECO has established a trust fund to help build a local oil processing facility. Lance Holter, Conservation Chair of the Hawai‘i  Sierra Club, feels that supplying the plant with locally grown feedstock is a problem. “Do we  we want biofuels to become a monopoly directed by one company growing fuel that would take up all of Hawaii’s ag lands to provide fuel to this one electric plant?”
Holter goes on to say that palm oil is in such worldwide demand that rain forests are being razed for oil palm plantations. Thus, the apparently eco-friendly facility could be responsible for a net increase in worldwide CO2 and destruction of the environment.

BlueEarth’s Wellington responds that all of their suppliers certify that the palm oil comes from sustainable sources and thus their use of palm oil will not contribute to rain forest destruction or increased CO2.

Holter’s position is, “Palm oil demand is so high, this simply means that someone who would have bought from these suppliers will now be getting their supply from the slash and burn plantations. Any increase in demand increases the acreage that is being destroyed.”

Kelly King added that the the non-profit Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance rejected labeling some imported palm oil as ‘Sustainably Grown Palm Oil’ in part for this reason.  According to her,  “At the quantities BlueEarth is proposing, it is certain to have an extremely negative impact.”

According to Peder Jensen, of the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, “If you make biofuels properly, you will reduce greenhouse emissions, but that depends very much on the types of plants and how they’re grown and processed. You can end up with a 90 percent reduction compared to fossil fuels — or a 20 percent increase.”
Since BlueEarth can use any vegetable oil, they feel that focusing on palm oil’s problems is misleading. “Virtually any vegetable oil product can be used and we can mix different feedstocks.” BlueEarth is considering soybean, canola, peanut, cottonseed, and sunflower oil from the Americas and various palm and non-palm tropical oils from the Pacific Rim and Central and South America.

Since a majority, if not all, of the feedstock for the Maui plant will be imported, we asked about potential increase in Kahului Harbor traffic. Wellington replied that the imported vegetable oil just about equals the imported diesel which it will replace. He expects one ship per month to export biodiesel to other islands once the third stage is built in about 2011. A spokesperson for Save Kahului Harbor indicated that this was not a concern for them.

Rob Parsons, former Maui Environmental Coordinator, questioned the potential 20 million gallons of glycerin waste product per year. “It could end up in our land fill. Increased biodiesel production has led to a glut of glycerin on the market.”
“The glycerin could be used to power the biodiesel plant process using a glycerin powered cogeneration system to provide the required power and steam, converted via a newly developed technology to methanol for the biodiesel refining process, or even burned as cheap, low-grade fuel in Kahului Power Plant,” Wellington said.
“With all of this value in the waste stream glycerin, none of it will end up in the Maui landfill.”

Critics want to see agreements in place to build the the glycerin infrastructure before they’ll accept assurances it won’t end up in landfill. “‘Could be used’ doesn’t mean ‘will be used’”, said Holter, “That’s all pie in the sky without agreements and timetables.” According to Parsons, “This facility is way out of scale with local sustainability for our island. We shouldn’t rush into such an endeavor without a complete understanding of its ramifications. Small, methodical steps make more sense.”

The Rob Report (From Maui Time)

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

-Walt Kelly’s Pogo

The 1960’s were a time when Cold War politics dictated that Americans live in fear of the Soviets dropping “the big one,” a nuclear bomb. Thousands of families constructed and stocked backyard fallout shelters. Elementary school children drilled “drop and cover” maneuvers beneath their desks.

Fortunately, that bomb never dropped. But, late in the decade there was another explosion of sorts. In 1968, Dr. Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford biologist wrote The Population Bomb, a study of unavoidable consequences of human population growth. Though some have criticized his doomsday predictions of widespread famine and food wars, Ehrlich recently pointed out that the 2.8 billion people we’ve added to the planet since the 3.5 billion already alive in 1968 certainly constitutes an explosion, which continues to degrade the global environment.

I read The Population Bomb a few years later after it published, when I was a senior in high school. It’s one of a half dozen books I’ve read that substantially changed the way I view the world around me. Page by page I read Ehrlich’s work and thought to myself, “Oh my God, we’re screwed.”

Even considering all the recent discussion of renewable energy possibilities for Hawai`i, Maui Electric Company’s (MECO) sudden announcement of plans to construct a $61 million biodiesel refinery was a bit of a bombshell. The proposal, in which MECO teams with BlueEarth Biofuels, LLC, projects a first phase output in 2009 of 40 million gallons of biodiesel fuel, more than half of the 73 million gallons of diesel MECO used in 2005 to run its generators. While the facility would utilize imported palm oil, it aspires to set up a nonprofit public trust to encourage the growth of local fuel crops.

If all goes well, in just a few years we’ll be able to crank up our air-conditioning, set out more strings of holiday lights and heat our Jacuzzis… all guilt-free. But, closer examination of the MECO/BlueEarth proposal raises questions.

Lots of questions.

BlueEarth Maui Biodiesel registered as a Limited Liability Corporation with the Hawai`i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Business Registration Division on Jan. 29, 2007. BlueEarth’s two principle partners, Robert Wellington and Landis Maez, live in Texas and Arizona, respectively. Is there a local connection?

The Maui News recently reported that BlueEarth is building a plant in Mason City, Iowa capable of producing 30 million gallons of biofuel. But the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website reports that plant is being constructed by Freedom Fuels, with general contracting by NewMech of St. Paul, Minnesota.

How did MECO select BlueEarth, a new company with no track record in Hawai`i and possibly anywhere else? By what process did they deem them worthy of this joint venture that is seeking legislative approval to receive $59 million in special purpose revenue bonds? Isn’t that the largest request of public funds since the proposed Superferry?

Also on Jan. 29, 2007, Raymond Sweeney Jr. of Sweeney Communications in Honolulu registered as a lobbyist for the BlueEarth Biofuels office Frisco, Texas. Senate Bill 1718, authorizing the revenue bonds, has already sailed through the Energy and Environment Committee, and soon will face a hearing with the Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Maui’s Roz Baker.

Henry Curtis of Life of the Land is perhaps the state’s leading renewable energy advocate. In his testimony on SB 1718, Curtis asked, “Who is applying? Why do they need money? What are the environmental, cultural, and social impacts? Or are we giving away money to anyone who wants to invest in an energy project which begins in ‘bio’?”

Life of the Land, advocating for the people and the `aina since 1970, has a stated mission of preservation and protection “through sustainable land use and energy policies, and by promoting open government through research, education, advocacy, and litigation.” They are currently involved in a contested case hearing with Hawai`i Electric Company over that agency’s proposed 110 megawatt generating station at Campbell Industrial Park.

Will the “rush to renewables” allow us to make intelligent, sustainable choices, or are we heading down a feel-good path, while adversely impacting the environment in unseen ways?

In a Dec. 6, 2005 commentary in The Guardian, George Monbiot maintains that palm oil is worse than the fossil fuel it looks to replace. Turns out there’s a global rush to use palm oil-derived diesel, with commodity traders listed in such diverse locales as Russia, South Korea, India and Dubai. But palm oil plantations in Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo and Thailand have faced harsh environmental scrutiny for destroying millions of hectares of rainforests.

A 2005 report by Friends of the Earth, titled Oil for Apes Scandal, found that 90 percent of orangutan habitat in Indonesia and Maylasia had been destroyed, placing the apes at the edge of extinction. Simply imperiled are the Sumatran tiger and rhinoceros, gibbons, tapirs and the Asian elephant.

A U.S. embassy energy news posting from Jakarta, Indonesia states that, “North Sumatra has avoided the haze from fires used to clear the forests for oil palm cultivation, and the oil palm plantations provide a buffer for environmentally protected areas.” A North Sumatran environmental official noted that heating the oil palm nut to extract the crude palm oil is still a dirty business, as is burning the empty husks.

BlueEarth claims they will buy palm oil imported from the Pacific Rim and in South America from suppliers “that practice sustainable palm production.” By 2011, they expect their refinery to produce 120 million gallons yearly, enough to provide fuel for electric generation on Oahu and the Big Island.

But to what extent would this giant venture employ local labor in the construction or in regular operations? Would something of this scope and size encourage grassroots biofuel agricultural production or just benefit traditional large plantation owners and spark squabbles over water allocation?

Moreover, can MECO partner in building this facility, then buy the fuel from itself without going through a competitive bidding process? Would such a request to provide biofuels contain incentives for locally produced, not imported fuels?

Representative Mina Morita of Kauai raised an even more essential question at the Governor’s Biofuel Summit last August. She asked what, with all this talk of using agricultural lands to raise crops to produce electricity, are we doing in terms of food security?

There was no answer—just a hush in the Hawai`i Convention Center’s meeting room. But, shouldn’t there be an equally ambitious effort to offset our state’s 85 percent dependence on imported food?

It seems that the earlier model of the family farm and small towns made a lot more sense than our current agribusiness-dominated global economy. As Kelly King of Pacific Biodiesel reminded a panel audience recently, all sustainability is local. In fact, King advocates a community model of local biofuel production far different than the recent bio-bomb dropped by the big state utility.

In their closing argument against Hawai`i Electric’s proposed new generating plant, Life of the Land’s Curtis called for alternatives to combustion—even of biofuels—which produce less harmful emissions. He advocated Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, seawater air conditioning and wave energy, which is currently being tested off Kaneohe Bay on Oahu. Curtis reminded us that all forms of energy production have environmental impacts.

Much as we’d like to blame others for all the challenges we face in the 21st century, we need to realize that we are the problem. Every dire environmental problem, from global warming to rainforest destruction, over-fishing to lack of fresh water, is traceable to the rapidly increasing number of humans impacting the planet. This year alone, an estimated 133 million babies are expected to be born.

Can we learn to live without our SUVs, big screen TVs and shipped-in luxuries? Will we convince each other to live in a way that minimizes environmental degradation?

Lots of big questions, indeed.

Biodiesel & Ethanol Net Energy

Read Rob Parsons Article to which DuByne is responding
Read Rob Parsons Response to the DuByne letter


Letter to Maui Time
by David DuByne
April 5, 2007
(Headings and empahasis added by webmaster)

Oilwell Production is Down

To follow up on the article “Potential Energy” by Rob Parsons in your Feb. 15, 2007 edition, we first need to understand why the switch to ethanol is happening. It’s called oil depletion or peak oil. Inside an oil well, just as in a glass of water there is only so much liquid. Since the pumps are so much better these days at getting oil out of the ground we are emptying many of the world’s oil wells faster than we are finding new oil to replace what is taken out worldwide year after year. For example in Mexico, a well called Cantarell is the second largest in the world after Garwar in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest.

Three years ago Cantarell well produced 2.2 million barrels of oil per day, this year it is down to 1.5 million and by the end of 2007 it is predicted by Pemex State Oil Company to drop to 900,000 barrels per day. This case is not only limited to Mexico, it is happening in 34 of the 47 countries that sell oil on the world market every day.

This is exactly why the change over to ethanol and bio-diesel is occurring, for no other reason than we are backed into a corner with no other option. Currently there is no substitute to power our cars, ships, airplanes and trucks that deliver what we need to keep our lives intact. Solar, wind, nuclear, bio-mass gasification, hydroelectric power or coal can never power the vehicles we use to keep the economies of the world moving and goods delivered. We have fossil fuels and the new replacements of ethanol and oils from plants as replacements for transportation and farm machinery, period.

Ethanol – Energy Returned on Energy (EROEI)

Now let’s talk about ethanol. It’s mainly produced from corn but other crops can be used such as sugarcane, rice and tapioca. It takes energy to make energy, and the amount of energy you must invest in the process of making ethanol is called EROEI: Energy Returned On Energy Invested.

One gallon net production of corn ethanol requires three gallons of input for that production because corn ethanol has an EROEI of 1.34 to one. When you multiply the extra energy gained from production of each barrel by three, you get 1.02, or one extra barrel of positively gained energy. It takes three barrels of oil to make one barrel of ethanol (0.34 times three equals 1.02).[webmaster note: He’s saying that 3 barrels of oil makes 4 barrels of corn ethanol]

Sugarcane has an EROEI of eight. One barrel of energy input to turn sugarcane into ethanol gives eight positive barrels of usable energy. In addition, corn ethanol has less energy density (one gallon of ethanol produces 62 percent as much heat as one gallon of gasoline) so 1.38 gallons of ethanol is needed to equal one gallon of gasoline energy. So in reality one barrel isn’t really one barrel, it is a barrel in liquid volume, but not in energy density.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects that ethanol distilleries will require only 60 million tons of corn from the 2008 harvest. But the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that ethanol distilleries will need 139 million tons of corn, more than twice as much. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) relies heavily on the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a trade group, for data on ethanol distilleries under construction.

In actuality there are four firms that collect and publish data on U.S. ethanol distilleries under construction. RFA is the one most frequently cited, but the other three firms are Europe-based F.O. Licht, the publisher of World Ethanol and Bio-fuels Report; BBI International, which publishes Ethanol Producer Magazine; and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), publisher of Ethanol Today.

Unfortunately, the lists of plants under construction maintained by RFA, BBI, and ACE are not complete. Each contains some plants that are not on the other lists. Drawing on these three lists and on bi-weekly reports from F.O. Licht, EPI has compiled a more complete master list. For example, EPI shows 79 plants under construction, RFA lists 62 plants.

According to the EPI compilation, the 116 ethanol plants in production on December 31, 2006, were using 53 million tons of grain per year, while the 79 plants under construction, mostly larger facilities, will use 51 million tons of grain when they come online. Expansions of 11 existing plants will use another eight million tons of grain (one ton of corn equals 39.4 bushels, which equals 110 gallons of ethanol).

In addition, easily 200 ethanol plants were in the planning stage at the end of 2006. If these translate into construction starts between January 1 and June 30, 2007, at the same rate that plants did during the final six months of 2006, then an additional three billion gallons of capacity requiring 27 million more tons of grain will likely come online by Sept. 1, 2008, the start of the 2008 harvest year. This raises the corn needed for distilleries to 139 million tons, half the 2008 harvest projected by USDA. This would yield nearly 15 billion gallons of ethanol, satisfying 6 percent of U.S. auto fuel needs.

This diversion of the world’s leading grain crop for the production of fuel will affect food prices everywhere. As the world corn price rises, so do those of wheat and rice for human consumption and sorghum, barley and millet for animal feed as markets look to other crops as replacements, people and animals still need to eat. With traditional animal feed from corn becoming more expensive look for dairy, meat and poultry prices to rise along with all human and animal consumption grains, starting now!

Let’s jump to 2015: Corn-based ethanol production would reach 31.5 billion gallons per year, or about 20 percent of projected U.S. fuel consumption in 2015. U.S. corn production 2006 was 11 billion bushels. Ethanol yield is approximately 2.5 gallons per bushel (39.4 bushels of corn equals 110 gallons of ethanol).

Ethanol has less energy density (one gallon of ethanol produces 62 percent as much heat as one gallon of gasoline) so 25 billion multiplied by 0.62 equals 15.8 billion gallons of gasoline energy, equivalent to about 10 percent or half the 20 percent Bush wants so these production numbers have to be doubled.

Sugarcane Better Than Corn for Ethanol

Keep in mind the grain it takes to fill a 25-gallon tank with ethanol just once will feed one person for a whole year. This puts Hawai`i in a unique position for ethanol production from sugarcane, which has a high EROEI and provides a domestic fuel source for the islands, with a possibility to export excess ethanol back to the mainland.

With all of this massive energy input to generate six percent of U.S. fuel needs next year, consider we could save that six percent by simple conservation measures. The wall to breakdown that exists in this philosophy is conservation equals non-consumption, the 180-degree opposite of corporations whose philosophy is consume. Thanks Rob for getting the awareness started.

-David DuByne, former Maui resident now working on bio-fuel
development projects in Thailand

Read Rob Parsons Response to the DuByne letter
Read Rob Parsons Article to which DuByne is responding


Jatropha Tree
Jatropha Being Monitored for Water Usage

From which is conducting water usage studies on Jatropha in Africa.

The Jatropha curcas tree, originates from Mexico. It’s oil-producing seeds (30%-35% oil) and entire plant are inedible (toxic) to humans, and most animals and birds. It produces for 50 years.

A small tree or shrub with a maximum height of 5 m, Jatropha curcas reportedly grows readily in areas of low rainfall (from 250 mm a year) and in poor soils, however, yield is strongly affected by growing conditions. The trees are easy to establish (from seeds or cuttings), grow relatively quickly (producing seed after their second year) and are hardy to drought.

There are several concerns around the affect of such a species on the coutry’s already scarce water resources as well as the possible invasive nature of the plant.

Jatropha Seeds are toxic to wildlife
Toxic Jatrpoha Seeds

It requires a minimum of 25 inches of rainfall but prefers 69 inches of rainfall. Seed production ranges from about 2 tons per hectare per year to over 12.5t/ha/year, after five years of growth. This range in production may be attributable to the amount of water it receives. See .

Maui growers would be competing with India where jatropha workers are paid 19 cents per hour.

The invasive and poisonous nature of this plant would most likely result in bird and animal poisonings on Maui.

Nat’l Biodiesel Board’s Life Cycle Paper

In May of 1998, the US Department of Energy (DOE) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the results of the Biodiesel Lifecycle Inventory Study. It compared findings for a comprehensive “cradle to grave” inventory of materials used; energy resources consumed; and air, water and solid waste emissions generated by petroleum diesel fuels and biodiesel in order to compare the total “lifecycle” costs and benefits of each of the fuels. This 3.5-year study followed US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and private industry-approved protocols for conducting this type of research. Below is a summary of the study. The full text of this 312 page study may be found at:
In evaluating the results of the Lifecycle Inventory Study, several caveats need to be noted. First, the study was not designed to present conclusions on the appropriate policies to promote the use of biodiesel. Instead, the study was designed to provide policy makers with comparative information that they could use to formulate appropriate policies regarding biodiesel. Second, the study does not provide any economic comparisons or valuations based on current market prices for the two fuels. Third, the study generally assumes that the comparative lifecycle benefits or costs of biodiesel and diesel fuel are proportional when biodiesel and diesel fuel are blended into one fuel, as in the popular 20% biodiesel/80% diesel blend known as B20.

With these caveats in mind, the major findings of the study are:

  • The total energy efficiency ratio (ie. total fuel energy/total energy used in production, manufacture, transportation, and distribution) for diesel fuel and biodiesel are 83.28% for diesel vs 80.55% for biodiesel. The report notes: “Biodiesel and petroleum diesel have very similar energy efficiencies.”
  • The total fossil energy efficiency ratio (ie. total fuel energy/total fossil energy used in production, manufacture, transportation, and distribution) for diesel fuel and biodiesel shows that biodiesel is four times as efficient as diesel fuel in utilizing fossil energy – 3.215 for biodiesel vs 0.8337% for diesel. The study notes: “In terms of effective use of fossil energy resources, biodiesel yields around 3.2 units of fuel product for every unit of fossil energy consumed in the lifecycle. By contrast, petroleum diesel’s life cycle yields only 0.83 units of fuel product per unit of fossil energy consumed. Such measures confirm the ‘renewable’ nature of biodiesel.” The report also notes: “On the basis of fossil energy inputs, biodiesel enhances the effective utilization of this finite energy source.”
  • In urban bus engines, biodiesel and B20 exhibit similar fuel economy to diesel fuel, based on a comparison of the volumetric energy density of the two fuels. The study explains, “Generally fuel consumption is proportional to the volumetric energy density of the fuel based on lower or net heating value. ..{D}iesel contains about 131,295 Btu/gal while biodiesel contains approximately 117,093 Btu/gal. The ratio is 0.892. If biodiesel has no impact on engine efficiency, volumetric fuel economy would be approximately 1 0% lower for biodiesel compared to petroleum diesel. However, fuel efficiency and fuel economy of biodiesel tend to be only 2%-3% less than #2 diesel.”
  • The overall lifecycle emissions of carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas) from biodiesel are 78% lower than the overall carbon dioxide emissions from petroleum diesel. “The reduction is a direct result of carbon recycling in soybean plants,” notes the study.

*The overall lifecycle emissions of carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas and a contributing factor in the localized formation of smog and ozone) from biodiesel are 35% lower than overall carbon monoxide emissions from diesel. Biodiesel also reduces bus tailpipe emissions of carbon monoxide by 46%. The study says “Biodiesel could, therefore, be an effective tool for mitigating CO in EPA’s designated CO non-attainment areas.”

*The overall lifecycle emissions of particulate matter (recognized as a contributing factor in respiratory disease) from biodiesel are 32% lower than overall particulate matter emissions from diesel. Bus tailpipe emissions of PM1 0 are 68% lower for biodiesel compared to petroleum diesel. The study notes, ‘PM10 emitted from mobile sources is a major EPA target because of its role in respiratory disease. Urban areas represent the greatest risk in terms of numbers of people exposed and level of PM 1 0 present. Use of biodiesel in urban buses is potentially a viable option for controlling both life cycle emissions of total particulate matter and tailpipe emission of PM1 O.”

The study also finds that biodiesel reduces the total amount of particulate matter soot in bus tailpipe exhaust by 83.6%. Soot is the heavy black smoke portion of the exhaust that is essentially 100% carbon that forms as a result of pyrolysis reactions during fuel combustion. The study notes there is on-going research to discover the relationship between exposure to diesel soot and cancerous growths in mice. Beyond the potential public health benefit from substantially reduced soot emissions, the study also notes: [T]here is an aesthetic benefit associated with significantly less visible smoke observed from the tailpipe. For urban bus operators, this translates into improved public relations.”

*The overall lifecycle emissions of sulfur oxides (major components of acid rain) from biodiesel are 8% lower than overall sulfur oxides emissions from diesel. Biodiesel completely eliminates emissions of sulfur oxides from bus tailpipe emissions. The study notes, “Biodiesel can eliminate sulfur oxides emissions because it is sulfur-free.”

* The overall lifecycle emissions of methane (one of the most potent greenhouse gases) from biodiesel are almost 3.0% lower than overall methane emissions from diesel. The study notes, “Though the reductions achieved with biodiesel are small, they could be significant when estimated on the basis of its ‘CO2 equivalent’-warming potential.”

* The overall lifecycle emissions of nitrogen oxides (a contributing factor in the localized formation of smog and ozone) from biodiesel are 13% greater than overall nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel. An urban bus that runs on biodiesel has tailpipe emissions that are only 8.89% higher than a bus operated on petroleum diesel. The study also notes: “Smaller changes in NOx emissions for BIOO and B20 have been observed in current research programs on new model engines but it is still to early to predict whether all or just a few future engines will display this characteristic.” and “… (S)olutions are potentially achievable that meet tougher future (vehicle) standards for NOx without sacrificing the other benefits of this fuel.”

* The bus tailpipe emissions of hydrocarbons (a contributing factor in the localized formation of smog and ozone) are 37% lower for biodiesel than diesel fuel. However, the overall lifecycle emissions of hydrocarbons from biodiesel are 35% greater than overall hydrocarbon emissions from diesel. The study notes, ‘In understanding the implications of higher lifecycle emissions, it is important to remember that emissions of hydrocarbons, as with all of the air pollutants discussed, have localized effects. In other words it makes a difference where these emissions occur. The fact that biodiesel’s hydrocarbon emissions at the tailpipe are lower may mean that the biodiesel life cycle has beneficial effects on urban area pollution.”

The study also cautions about drawing hard conclusions related to the total life cycle emissions of hydrocarbons from sources other than the engine tailpipe: “We have less confidence in the hydrocarbon air emissions results from this study. …Our data set includes numbers reported as “unspecified hydrocarbons” and as “non-methane hydrocarbons'(NMHC). Given these kinds of ambiguities in the data, results on hydrocarbon emissions need to be viewed with caution.”

* The overall lifecycle production of wastewater from biodiesel is 79.0% lower than overall production of wastewater from diesel. The study notes, ‘Petroleum diesel generates roughly five times as much wastewater flow as biodiesel.’

The overall lifecycle production of hazardous solid wastes from biodiesel is 96% lower than overall production of hazardous solid wastes from diesel. However, the overall life cycle production of non-hazardous solid wastes from biodiesel is twice as great as the production of non-hazardous solid wastes from diesel. The study notes: “Given the more severe impact of hazardous versus non-hazardous waste disposal, this is a reasonable trade-off.”

Maui Group Salutes Environmental Heroes At Silver Anniversary Awards Ceremony

The Maui Sierra Club Executive Committee extends a hearty “mahalo” to all those volunteers, community members and local businesses who made our 25th Anniversary Silver Moon Gala a resounding success. See complete list below.

Maui Group Salutes Environmental Heroes
At Silver Anniversary Awards Ceremony

The Maui Group’s quarter century of accomplishments have been made possible through the dedicated efforts of numerous Group members and allies. During its November 3, 2006 Silver Anniversary Gala, the Group  presented special service awards to thank some of the many who have offered their time and talents to protect Maui’s environment.

Those honored were:

  •  Dana & Isaac Hall: Aloha ‘Aina Award. The for nearly two decades the Halls have contributed their legal expertise and expert research to defending Maui’s lands, waters and cultural sites.
  •  Lorna Joan Harrison: Malama ‘Aina Award. Lorna has quietly and tirelessly organized, led and participated in countless service outing projects over the past 20 years, protecting Maui’s native plants and ridding the island of alien pests.
  •  Dr. Rick Sands and Anthony Ranken, Esq.: Malama Kahakai Award. Rick and Anthony launched a successful, year-long SPAM (State Park at Makena) campaign to preserve Maui’s famed Big Beach while serving on the Maui Group Excomm. Both were founders of MG ally, Maui Tomorrow.
  •  Mary Evanson: Lifetime Achievement Award for her numerous conservation efforts that have proven so effective.

In addition, the five founding members of the Maui Group of Sierra Club (or a close family member in their stead) were honored:

  • 8/3/09
  •  Bud Aronson
  •  The late John Bose
  •  Dr. James Fleming
  •  Noted biologist, Cameron Kepler

Our thanks to AT&T Wireless of Maui, which has donated a cell phone to the Maui Group for use in assuring safety on our hikes and outings, and for facilitating the activity of volunteers working on public interest and educational issues. Maui Group heartily thanks AT&T Wireless for their support of our activities.

A special note of appreciation goes to  David Leese for many years of devoted service as vice-chairman, secretary, and newsletter editor (usually all at the same time). He is taking a well-deserved break.

Mahalo to All Who Made the
Silver Moon Gala Possible

Anthony Ranken, Esq
Barry & Stella Rivers
Big Bugga Sportswear
David Darling
David Tracy-Metz
Daya Ceglia
Design Network, Makawao
Dolphin T’s /Dreams of Fields Gallery
Dr. Diane Shephard, DVM
Ed Lindsey
Gordeen Bailey
Groove 2 Music
Haiku Pharmacy
John Schofill
Kathy Marchetti
Liz Lanes-Brown
Maui Child
Maui Printing, Co.
Nagasako’s Fish Market
Peter Scheel
Richard Fields
Timpone Hawaii
Tropical Disk
Vickie Schultz
Dr. Andrew M. & Nikki JanssenDONORS
All Computer Services/Ken Stover
Aloha Bead Co., Paia
Sarah Klopping
Alysia McKee
Andrew Annenberg
Angie Young Hair Salon
Ann Fielding
Anna Hadley
Anthony’s Coffee Shop
Art by Lloyd
Audrey Antone Blaack
Barbara Steinberg
Barry & Stella Rivers
Biasa Rose Boutique
Big Bugga, Paia
Bill Best Creations
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
Brian Parker
Candace Horton
Capt Simone & Maureen
Carl Lyle Jenkins
Christa Morf
Christina Hemming
Christine Warner
Claudia Keane
Claudio Stancov
Claud’s Motor Tech, Kula
Clear Image
Deanna Rassmusson
Dennis Holzer
Dr. Andrew M. & Nikki Janssen
Dr. Leisure
Dr. Nathan Ehrlich, N.D
Dr. Whitley
Driesbach Data
Dunes at Maui Lani
Ellen Levinsky
Erin Graue
Ernie’s QuickLube, Kihei
Eva Daniels
Franklin Levinson
Gail Pickholz
George Allen
Goodies of Makawao
Haleakala Express
Hank Kline
Hawaiian Herbal
Helen Anne Schonwalter
Hermine Harman
Howie of Maui
Huelo Point Flower Farm
Huelo Point Lookout
Island Essence
Island People, Paia
Isle Dezyn & Interiors
Jaggers, Paia
Janice McCormick/Great Cuts
Jason Schwarz, Pacific West Mortgage
Julia Renigado
Just for You and Me Kid
Kai Mayerfeld
Karen Jennings
Karen Stover
Karen Stover Maui Ocean Center
Katya Rice
Katya Rice
Kelli Meade
Koa B Handwovens
Kutira DeCosterd
Lance Tanino
Lee Altenburg
Lisa Owens
Lucienne de Naie
Lucretia Oddie
Mama’s Fish House
Mana Foods, Paia
Mana Foods, Paia
Mandala, Paia
Manuela Christenel
Margie Campbell
Maria Socorro Young
Martha Vockrodt Moran
Masako Wescott
Maui Girl, Paia
Maui Heavenscapes
Maui Myth & Magic Theater
Maui Wellness Center
Melissa Hamilton
Melissa Hamilton
Monica & Michael Sweet
Moonbow, Paia
Neola Caveny
Niyaso Carter
Northshore Chiropratic
Nuage Bleu
O’Connor Silhouettes
Old Plantation, Paia
Orchids of Olinda
Pacific Island Art
Paia Trading Company
Paula Brock
Pauline Sugarman
Peter Kafka
Peter Voorhees/A Cut Above
Piero Resta
Postal Plus, Makawao
Pukalani Chiropractic
Richard Dan
Richard Langford
Rick Newenger
Robbie Friedlander
Sandy Vitarelli
Sativa Hempwear
Shangri-La, Huelo
Sharon Owens
Sherri Reeve
Sony Corporation
Spyglass House
Stella River
Stephanie Landers
Tanesha Bryan
Terri Mister
Terry Tico
The Enchantress, Paia
Thomas & Joan Heartfield
Travel Hawaii
Tropical Orchid Farm
Val Sisneros
Vic’s Plumbing
W.S.B. Tully
Willi Wolf
William Lattner

Musical Options Entertainment
Victoria Joyce
Joy Magarifuji
Tim O’Hara,band leader
Greg Marsh, drums
Tim Hackbarth, bass
Jim Downing, keyboard
Pam Petersen, vocals
Margie Heart, vocals
Tony Ray, vocals
Laurie Rohrer
Jake Rohrer
Ata Damasco
Pam Poland


Alex Minor
Amy Chang
Andres Fisher
Anthony Rankin
Ave Diaz
Becky Kikumoto
Bobbie Becker
Brian Parker
Carol Pratt
Chris Mentzel
Chuck Stokesberry
Claire Cappelle
Daniel Grantham
David St. John
David Tracey-Metz
Deanna Rasmussen
Diane Shepherd
Ed Jorel Elkin
Erin Whitley
Evie Polland
Francis Saluto
Fred Spanjaard
George Shattenburg
Greg Wahl
Hannah Bernard
Harriet Witt-Miller
Heather Secord
Helen Ann Scholwalter
Jan Dapitan
Janis McMormick
Jay Griffen
Jeff Mikulina
Jennifer Stephens
Johnny Thorn
Joy Brann
Julie Douglas
Karen Stover
Kathy Marcheti
Kelli Meade
Kiva Herman
Koana Smith
Lance Holter
Lela Nickel
Liz Welter
Lotus Dancer
Lucienne de Naie
Maha Conyers
Marghi Campbell
Mark Rudd
Mark Sheehan
Martha Martin
Marty McMahon
Mele Stokesberry
Mike Foley
Miranda Camp
Nadine Newlight
Nancy Shearman
Neola Caveny
Nora Steinbrick
Pam McIsaac
Pamela Gould
Penelope Rose
Peter Kafka
Phillip Whitley
Ray Soden
Ray Soden
Rick Sands
Rob Parsons
Robin Ricards
Ron Sturtz
Saharah Dyson
Sara Patton
Sherry Reeve
Spring Manju
Stephanie Minor
Stuart d’enuff
Sun Dancer
Susan Bradford
Susanna Goodwin
Tanmayo Mentzel
Tara Grace
Terry Reim
Tina Dart
Tom Stevens
Uma Hemming
Valerie Sisneros

Thank You

Thanks to the many supporters who donated plants for Maui Group’s annual plant sale at the Ha’iku Ho’olaulea & Flower Festival. Becky Lau, Lorna Harrison, Diana Dahl, Gail Ainsworth, Martha Vockrodt, Tropical Orchid Farm, Valley Farm, Ha’iku Maui Orchids, Neola Caveny and others supplied a bounty of beautiful greenery. Dot Buck coordinated the plant sale with help from Celeste King and other MG volunteers. Jill Sullivan coordinated the MG info booth at the event.



Mahalo to Cody Gillette & Eve Moffatt who generously donated a portion of revenues from their gala March 14 CD release party at ‘Iao Theatre to Maui Group. Both are award winning musicians who care about Maui’s ‘aina.