Maui drivers using #biodiesel have a reason to celebrate today as city eliminated its 9 cents per gallon on-road biodiesel fuel tax effective July 1, 2016. In response, Maui’s own Pacific Biodiesel rolled back biodiesel prices at the pump 9 cents. The fate of the tax was uncertain when earlier this year the Maui County mayor’s budget actually requested the tax be raised to 11.5 cents per gallon. However, upon discovering that biodiesel sales were minimal when compared to petroleum sales, Maui County Council Vice Chair Don Guzman proposed the tax be eliminated altogether.
Pacific Biodiesel President and Founder Bob King noted that this sends a strong message of support for renewables in Maui and throughout the state where other counties have ongoing tax exemptions for biodiesel. It should be noted that Hawaii has the largest prices for energy of all 50 U.S. states.
“In Maui County, increasing the tax on biodiesel to 11.5 cents per gallon would have generated less than $50,000 in annual revenue—that’s a drop in the bucket of the county’s budget,” said King. “With the effects of climate change already upon us, it’s taxing the renewable fuel solution and not the problem—petroleum emissions. Our state is committed to a renewable energy future and Maui needs to step up.”
To celebrate the tax exemption, Pacific Biodiesel hosted a price roll-back event at the company’s Kahului pump. Guzman and Councilmember Don Couch were in attendance. Also on hand for the event was Pacific Biodiesel customer David Sellers, a local business owner, former staff of The Nature Conservancy, and longtime biodiesel advocate.
“Biodiesel is the best thing for our environment. And the money stays here on island and helps our community,” noted Sellers. “As a business owner, I like to spend money locally. I’ve been a Pacific Biodiesel supporter for years and I run biodiesel in generators, boats, trucks—you name it. We’re fortunate to have this as a resource here in Hawaii. And anything that can be done locally to lower the price to make it more adoptable to other people is a good thing.”
Sellers continued, “Price doesn’t make a big difference to me personally because I’m committed to seeing it move forward and become more mainstream. But for those people we’re trying to convince that this is the right thing to do not just environmentally but also financially, today’s price rollback and Maui County’s elimination of the biodiesel tax is a huge step. This is what we need to be doing.”
King added, “Immediately reducing our prices on the first day of the fiscal budget honors the support of the council and reflects the intent of the tax exemption. Competing against fossil fuel—arguably the most heavily subsidized industry in the world—is extremely difficult, especially now that petroleum prices are so low. If we as a community want to encourage renewable energy companies and renewable energy users, our lawmakers and public officials need to take supportive action. I’m proud that we can once again partner with our county council in the effort to make Maui part of the climate solution.”