Pacific Biodiesel Founders Bob and Kelly King welcomed U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono for a tour of the company’s new crushing mill and expanded agriculture operations in Kaumakani, Kauaʻi on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Other guests included representatives from Kauaʻi landowners Gay & Robinson, Inc., Ulupono Initiative, and Governor Josh Green’s Kauaʻi liaison.

Pacific Biodiesel announced in a  press release earlier this year the expansion to Kauaʻi as part of a federally funded project to develop a model for Hawaiʻi regenerative agriculture-based biofuel.

Pacific Biodiesel’s Bob King explains to Senator Hirono how the oilseeds will be transferred and stored as Ulupono Initiative President Murray Clay, Gay & Robinson, Inc. Vice-President Howard Greene and Kelly King listen in.  Photo Credit: Office of Senator Mazie K. Hirono

Funding for the project was supported by Senator Hirono, who serves on several strategic Senate Committees including Armed Services, and Energy and Natural Resources. She also chairs the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, where she is leading the fight to modernize military infrastructure in Hawaiʻi and across the country.

In the press release Senator Hirono noted, “This federal funding will help bolster Hawaiʻi’s local agriculture industry while decreasing our reliance on expensive imported oil. Not only will this project advance our state’s climate and clean energy goals, it will also provide our military installations with a reliable source of renewable fuel while supporting local jobs.”

Senator Hirono’s visit coincided with Hawaiʻi Climate Week 2024.

“This is a big deal not just for Kauaʻi but for agriculture in our state,” said Pacific Biodiesel Founder Bob King. “It has the potential to change from our sugar background to a new phase of agriculture. Creating fuel for the military as well as for the rest of the population. We’re vulnerable on food, we’re vulnerable on fuel, and this project is addressing both sides of that – the food and the fuel. I’m really excited to be able to move this project forward!”

The tour included a visit to the mill’s bottling room where guests sampled the company’s premium culinary oils, sourced from local agriculture including sunflowers from the Kings’ farm on Maui. “I tasted their sunflower oil and their macadamia nut oil – really delicious,” said Senator Hirono.

Bob and Kelly King showed off the new bottling room at the Kauaʻi facility where Senator Hirono and other guests were able to sample the company’s premium culinary oils.

The guests also had an opportunity to learn about the new expeller press and see a trio of recently installed large-capacity grain silos where harvested seed will be stored until it is crushed, producing both oil and a high-protein meal for livestock feed.

Pacific Biodiesel Co-Founder Kelly King announced to the group, “We would not be doing this if not for the partnership with Senator Hirono’s office getting the federal funding.”

“Thank you to the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives for understanding how important agriculture is in general, doing agriculture the right way, and addressing things that we can make. Because we can make our own food and fuel now in the state of Hawaiʻi – where we’re the furthest away from the next inhabited land in the world. And so we are becoming more self-sufficient with this project,” King said.

Senator Hirono added, “I think there is so much focus now on sustainability in terms of the fuel that we use and not continually importing oil for energy here. Also, food sustainability.  Everywhere I go there is interest in the kind of agriculture that will enable us to grow more of our own food. This project is part of that focus.”

Watch the video from the Senator’s visit here.

The guests gathered in front of one of three 32’ tall silos at the Kauaʻi site; each silo has a capacity of 330,000 pounds of harvested seed. From L to R: Michael Colón, Director, Energy Sector, Ulupono Initiative; Murray Clay, President, Ulupono Initiative; Governor Green’s Kauaʻi Representative Dana Hazelton; Pacific Biodiesel Director of Agriculture Operations James Twigg-Smith; Pacific Biodiesel Cofounder Kelly King; Gay & Robinson, Inc. President Brian Yamase; Senator Hirono; Gay & Robinson, Inc.’s Bruce Robinson; Pacific Biodiesel President and Founder Bob King; Gay & Robinson, Inc. Vice President Howard Greene; Maiden Hawaii Naturals, LLC Production Manager George Twigg-Smith.

Senator Hirono enjoyed a tasting of the company’s premium Maiden Hawaii Naturals culinary oils during a tour of the bottling room hosted by Pacific Biodiesel Co-founders Bob and Kelly King. Photo credit: Office of Senator Mazie K. Hirono

Kelly King, Senator Mazie Hirono, Bruce Robinson and Bob King pose in front of the storage silos at the Kaumakani, Kauaʻi facility. Photo credit: Office of Senator Mazie K. Hirono