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PHOTOS & VIDEO: Senator Hirono Holds Events on Kauai Focused on Renewable Energy, Small Businesses, and COFA Community Members

~ Senator Hirono visited Pacific Biodiesel’s new facility, toured several small businesses, and met with COFA community members ~

HONOLULU, HI – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) held events on Kauai focused on renewable energy, small businesses, and community members from the Compacts of Freely Associated (COFA) States. Senator Hirono toured Pacific Biodiesel’s new facility in Hanapepe, 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 Kauai that are participating in Hawaii on the Hill, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s (CoCH) annual event in Washington, D.C. Then, Senator Hirono met with COFA citizens to discuss the recently passed renegotiated Compacts of Free Association.

Senator Hirono started the day visiting Pacific Biodiesel’s new facility in Hanapepe. 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. Senator Hirono, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was instrumental in supporting the expansion of Pacific Biodiesel’s operations on Kauai, as she supported $11 million in federal funding for the new facility.


Senator Hirono seeing the new silos at Pacific Biodiesel’s Hanapepe facility.

“As we work to combat climate change and advance Hawaii’s clean energy goals, Pacific Biodiesel’s new facility will help produce sustainable and renewable biofuel, while also supporting our local farmers,” said Senator Hirono. “I supported the federal funding for this project, which will help reduce our reliance on imported oil, while creating local jobs, and bolstering our agriculture industry.”

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


Senator Hirono and Sherry Menor-McNamara with Kauai businessowners.

“Hawaii on the Hill gives local businesses from Hawaii 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 Hawaii, as well as the challenges local businesses across the islands face,” said Senator Hirono. “This event highlights the spirit of entrepreneurship demonstrated by our local businesses and I enjoyed visiting these businesses on Kauai to learn more about what Hawaii on the Hill means to them. I look forward to welcoming them and other businesses from across our state back to Washington, D.C. later this year.”

“As we prepare for the 8th Annual Hawaii on the Hill in June, highlighting local businesses from around the state and hearing about their challenges are an important part of this initiative,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. “Today’s visits on Kauai were successful and we are looking forward to representing these businesses in Washington D.C. and helping to convey their messages.”

Following the business visits, Senator Hirono ended her day meeting with Karlyse Hesly, Bilingual Health Aid at the Hawaii Department of Health Kauai District, and Jeffery Lath, President of the Marshallese Association of Kauai, 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, Senator Hirono secured the passage of her Compact Impact Fairness Act, which reinstates access to federal benefits for COFA citizens living in the U.S.


Senator Hirono meeting with members of the COFA community on Kauai.

“COFA citizens are important members of our communities, which is why I worked for years to reinstate their eligibility for federal benefits,” said Senator Hirono. “I appreciated the opportunity to meet with COFA community members on Kauai to hear more about the work they’re doing to help COFA citizens get the support they need and how this change will benefit their lives. I will continue fighting for the thousands of COFA citizens in Hawaii and across our country to help ensure they receive the support they deserve.”