In 2016 the Public Utilities Commission gave their approval for a “conversion project” at Hawaii Gas to expand liquefied natural gas imports to up to 30 percent of its supplies.

No wonder they won approval for their plan after testifying that expanding use of LNG would result in substantial savings for ratepayers, as well as increased fuel reliability and security.

The following year, Hawaii Gas began building infrastructure to accommodate the increased LNG shipments.

Then, surprise! Last August they filed a request to the PUC for a 15 percent rate increase for their customers.

Wait a minute. What happened to the substantial savings customers were supposed to see when LNG came through?

Hawaii Gas employees on the LNG tank at Pier 38 in June 2016.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

LNG projects require huge investments, including the infrastructure to accommodate them, and someone has to pay for that. You can guess who that is. Hawaii Gas estimates $200 million for the infrastructure to increase their imports.

But you have to wonder where the logic is in making such a huge investment, when Hawaii has already passed a law on renewable energy standards that mandates the state move to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

Why spend all that money, including the estimated $2.5 million to build the LNG transfer system, when Hawaii is supposed to be off of fossil fuels by 2045?

But the Legislature did not include gas utilities like Hawaii Gas in their mandate, effectively exempting them from the renewable energy standard law. Still, must we always be forced to legislate companies into doing the right thing?

Bridge To Nowhere

At the same time, Hawaii Gas should know that the rest of the world is beginning to transition to a low carbon economy in response to the risk of stranded assets (fossil fuels that must be left in the ground). It’s hard to imagine Hawaii Gas believes it’s good business to strap their ratepayers and shareholders with the economic risk of this costly LNG infrastructure given these facts.

Hawaii Gas would have us believe that LNG is “clean-energy” or a “bridge fuel” to it. The reality is LNG is just another dirty fossil fuel and a bridge to nowhere.

Blue Planet Foundation summed up LNG perfectly when they said:

Let’s call LNG what it is. LNG is a fossil fuel, just like oil and coal. It’s 90-percent methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Hawaii Gas likes to call methane a “cleaner-burning fuel.”

But that handy phrase hides the fact that methane leaks out of the ground during drilling (hello, fracking) and that fossil fuels are consumed to ship it across the sea. LNG is liquefied methane. It’s not clean. It’s not renewable. It’s not local. It’s not sustainable.

“Fracking” or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of taking good water and mixing it with chemicals and drilling down into the earth to inject this high-pressure chemical soup into the rock to force out the gas inside. This typically requires 3 to 6 million gallons of water per well, and an additional 15,000 to 60,000 gallons of chemicals.

The resulting wastewater contains cancer-causing chemicals that have leaked and contaminated water supplies, sickening and destroying nearby communities.

Considering the economic risks, as well as the environmental impacts and health risks of LNG, it becomes obvious that LNG benefits no one except those invested in fossil fuels.

Own Up To Climate Change

As a community we must own up to the fact that with every shipment of LNG to Hawaii, we contribute to climate change and that families like our own are being poisoned and suffering on the other end of the supply chain while companies continue to focus on their short-term profit.

Moreover, we are contributing to our own demise as we accelerate the climate crisis and the sea continues to rise.

The reality is LNG is just another dirty fossil fuel and a bridge to nowhere.

So what can we do?

For one thing, we can contact the PUC (Docket No. 2017-0105) and let them know LNG is a dirty fossil fuel that makes no economic sense. Investing in LNG wastes time, energy and resources that are needed to meet the clean-energy mandate and address climate change in a meaningful way.

We need to let our elected officials know we support legislation that protects the climate and therefore our homes and communities. We can remind them and the PUC that LNG does not belong in our energy future, no matter which utility it comes from.

We can contact our Senators and Representatives and tell them to schedule and pass House Bill 1801 HD1 so that Hawaii Gas and other gas utilities are included in the renewable energy standard mandate. We can make sure that LNG is not considered as a bridge fuel for energy or transportation — ground, sea and air.

As an island state we have the most to lose with rising sea levels and super storms becoming the new norm. We need to be the leaders in the nation and show the way forward.

We can stand together for a better future for our children and refuse to let short-sighted companies wreak havoc on us. Say “no” to LNG.

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