Local residents plan to protest outside the Hawaii Gas headquarters (745 Fort Street Mall) on Friday May 13 in the hopes that the company will drop its latest proposal to import more fossil fuel gas to Hawaiʻi. The protest comes as people around the world are scheduled to participate in demonstrations against some of the world’s most dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuels projects.
“Importing more fossil fuel is not the way to achieve Hawaiʻi’s 100 percent renewable energy goals,” said David Mulinix of Idle No More Hawaiʻi. “We should be focusing on the installation of solar panels and batteries, not new schemes to further our dependence on imported fossil fuel.”
Hawaii Gas was recently granted approval by the Public Utilities Commission to import Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to Hawaiʻi. The project will require investment in new infrastructure and create new demand for fossil fuels in the islands.
“It feels like Hawaii Gas is looking out for their own corporate profits and not the best interests of Hawaiʻi’s people when they talk about importing LNG to our islands,” said Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi.
LNG is touted by the industry as a cleaner, cheaper fuel, but the methane that is released when it is mined and that must be regularly vented while it is stored contributes as much or more to global climate change as carbon pollution from coal or oil.
“The truth is LNG is still a dirty fossil fuel that makes no economic sense for Hawaiʻi. If anything, LNG is nothing but a “broken bridge” that climate experts assert actually accelerates climate warming,” said Henry Curtis of Life of the Land.
“LNG, which is essentially methane, is 30 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas” explained Mulinix.
On April 6, 2016 the Public Utilities Commission approved Hawaii Gas’ application to bring in containers of LNG from the mainland for up to 30 percent of their supply needs. This is a first step in Hawaii Gas’ broader plans to further expand the use of LNG in Hawaiʻi, which entails spending $200 million for infrastructure. This includes off-shore docking facilities and a pipeline system to bring the fuel onshore.
“All this expense and effort for something that’s supposed to be temporary makes no sense,” added Mulinix, “Considering the State of Hawaiʻi’s goal is to attain 100 percent renewable electric generation by 2045, we should be focusing on improving our options for that.”
Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige signed a bill into law last year committing the state to using only renewable sources of energy by 2045. As part of that policy, the Governor denounced LNG as distraction from achieving our longer term goals.
“The science is clear,” said Sherry Pollack of 350.org Hawai’i. “If we are to keep below the tipping point for climate chaos and protect our ‘life support system’ i.e. the planet, scientists have confirmed we must take bold action now to stop burning fossil fuels. The reality is that the proposed LNG plans by Hawaii Gas will exacerbate the climate crisis by supporting the burning of fossil fuels for decades, and overlooks the price Hawaiʻi is already paying for past reliance on fossil fuels. Look at our loss of coastline, coral reefs and trades winds, not to mention the destruction caused to communities where fracking occurs. This is unacceptable. We refuse to stand idly by and let short-sighted companies wreak havoc on our planet and our children’s future. That is why we say no to LNG.”
Friday’s protest will be one of many global “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” actions happening this weekend. Thousands of people around the world are joining actions which aim to divest from fossil fuels and speed up the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy. These peaceful worldwide mobilizations are intended to serve as an important turning point in the trajectory to increase pressure on the fossil fuel industry.
The local Hawaiʻi action is co-sponsored by: 350 Hawaii.org, DeOccupy Honolulu, Hawaiʻi Interfaith Power and Light, Idle No More Hawaiʻi, Life of the Land, Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi, Surfrider Foundation Oʻahu Chapter, Transition Oʻahu, Windward Ahupuaʻa Alliance.