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Senator tours Kaua‘i with focus on renewable energy, small business and COFA community

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Sen. Mazie K. Hirono visiting Pacific Biodiesel’s new facility. Photo Courtesy: Office of Sen. Hirono

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) recently held events on Kaua‘i focused on renewable energy, small businesses and community members from the Compacts of Freely Associated (COFA) states.

Sen. Hirono on March 27 toured Pacific Biodiesel’s new facility in Hanapēpē, where they are modernizing their production facility using federal funding she helped to secure.

The senator, a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, also visited small businesses on Kaua‘i that are participating in Hawai‘i on the Hill, the Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i’s annual event in Washington. Then, Sen. Hirono met with COFA citizens to discuss the recently passed renegotiated Compacts of Free Association.


Sen. Hirono started March 27 visiting Pacific Biodiesel’s new facility in Hanapēpē. The facility includes a seed crushing mill, storage silos and a seed oil processing facility to produce oil from locally-grown crops that can be turned into biofuel.

“As we work to combat climate change and advance Hawai‘i’s clean energy goals, Pacific Biodiesel’s new facility will help produce sustainable and renewable biofuel, while also supporting our local farmers,” said Sen. Hirono.

Sen. Hirono then spoke with several small businessowners, some of whom are participating in this year’s 8th Hawai‘i on the Hill, a partnership between Sen. Hirono and the Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i. Joined by Hawai‘i chamber president and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara, Sen. Hirono met with the owners of Salty Wahine; Kaua‘i Kookie; Lydgate Farms Kaua‘i Chocolate; and Aunty Lilikoi Passion Fruit Products. During their visit, the senator and Menor-McNamara toured facilities, met employees and spoke with business owners about their progress and the challenges they’ve continued to face since the COVID pandemic.


“Hawai‘i on the Hill gives local businesses from Hawai‘i the opportunity to directly connect with federal policymakers, while giving my colleagues in Congress the chance to gain a better understanding of the unique foods and culture of Hawai‘i, as well as the challenges local businesses across the islands face,” said Sen. Hirono.

Following the business visits, Sen. Hirono ended her day meeting with Karlyse Hesly, bilingual health aid at the Hawai‘i Department of Health Kaua‘i District, and Jeffery Lath, president of the Marshallese Association of Kaua‘i, to discuss their work in support of the health and well-being of the COFA community. Earlier this month, as part of the renegotiated Compacts of Free Association, Sen. Hirono secured the passage of her Compact Impact Fairness Act, which reinstates access to federal benefits for COFA citizens living in the U.S.

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