SEATTLE » Residents of Washington, Oregon and Colorado won’t just be considering whether to let adults buy pot at state-sanctioned shops when they vote next month on legalizing and taxing marijuana.
They’ll be voting on whether to let farmers grow marijuana’s far less potent cousin — hemp — for clothing, food, biofuel and construction materials among other uses.
But don’t expect farmers to start growing it, at least not immediately. The passage of the measures would create the familiar clash with federal law, which prohibits growing the plant for industrial, recreational or medicinal purposes.
Farmers who say they have enough to worry about with drought and crop diseases don’t want to also be left wondering whether federal drug agents will come knocking.
“Farmers are already engaged in a high-risk endeavor,” said Roy Kaufmann, a spokesman for Oregon’s pot initiative. “That weariness of potentially facing federal action is just too much of a disincentive.”
The three ballot initiatives to regulate pot like alcohol have garnered much attention, in part for the hundreds of millions of dollars they could bring into state coffers and for the showdown it could set up with the federal government.
No state has made recreational pot legal, and these measures would be the first to set up state-sanctioned pot sales. The Justice Department could try to block them in court under the argument they frustrate federal antidrug law enforcement efforts.
Hawaiian Electric Co. has selected Pacific Biodiesel Inc. to supply locally produced biodiesel for an emergency power generation system at Honolulu International Airport.
Maui-based Pacific Biodiesel will provide HECO with at least 250,000 gallons of made from locally recycled cooking oil under the three-year contract, the companies said. The biodiesel will be burned in an 8-megawatt generating station scheduled to be completed in October 2010.
The four generating units at the facility will feed electricity into the HECO grid during normal operations, but will be isolated to power the airport exclusively during an emergency, HECO said.
HONOLULU (AP) – Crops grown on the Big Island will be converted into liquid fuel as part of a deal between Hawaiian Electric Co. and renewable energy company Aina Koa Pono.
The agreement is the first in Hawaii to produce enough biofuel for use in power plants, where it will be converted to electricity.
By 2015, the 13,000-acre energy farm is projected to produce about 16 percent of the Big Island’s energy supply.
Power users on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island would pay about one-third of a cent per kilowatt hour extra to fund the accord, or about $1.86 per month for a typical residential consumer.
The cost hike would have to be approved by state regulators.
The deal is part of the state’s goal to get 40 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030
Sugar for March delivery closed at 28.45 cents per pound on Monday — a little off its above-30-cent peak struck last month, but still double its May 2010 low.
And it looks like sugar may have higher to climb.
Global supplies of sugar are projected to lag worldwide demand this year for the third year running. According to a new report by Czarnikow Group, a London-based sugar and biofuel broker, the supply/demand deficit could run as high as 2.8 million metric tons from September 2010 to September 2011.
Of course, when you consider that total supply for 2010/11 is expected to rise to 168.4 million tons from last year’s 157.4 million, that deficit doesn’t seem like a huge gap. And generally, if sugar becomes too expensive to use, end-consumers can just switch to cheaper sweeteners, like corn-based syrups.
Still, one can make the argument that sugar should be higher, especially considering that growing consumption is expected in emerging markets like China, where we’ve yet to hit the limit of their commodity appetite. Plus, over the past few years, we’ve seen drawdowns in world inventories of the sweet stuff, a fact that helped boost prices up to ever-higher highs in 2007/08 and 2008/09.
The supply shortfall springs from poor growing weather we saw earlier this year. Remember that Brazilian bumper crop we talked about back in August? Yeah, not so much. Brazil, the world’s largest producer of sugar, saw sugar cane production declines from a hotter summer than usual, while similar drought conditions stunted Russian beet production and South African cane yields. Meanwhile, in Indonesia and Australia, the sugar cane harvest withered under a deluge of super-wet weather.
HONOLULU (AP) — The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has received a $110 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Hawaii’s Democratic Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka said Thursday in a Washington news release that the loan guarantee will be used to expand renewable energy initiatives.
They say the guarantee includes nearly $73 million for hydroelectric plant improvements and a 10-megawatt naphtha/biodiesel fueled combustion turbine.
Inouye says the funds will help Kauai further harness the power of water and biofuel as part of the effort to lessen Kauai County’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Akaka says the homegrown energy sources keep dollars in Hawaii while reducing air, land and water pollution.
Michael Saalfeld, a German industrialist and biofuel pioneer, has purchased the North Kohala acreage Parker Ranch quietly sold in August, according to government records.
One of Saalfeld’s many companies, Kukuipahu Makai, paid $49.3 million for 35 parcels comprising 3,509 acres, according to Hawaii County tax records.
The state’s business registry lists Saalfeld and his wife, Jeannette, as the company’s only members.
Located on both sides of Akoni Pule Highway, the contiguous parcels extend from Mahukona Beach Park north nearly to Puakea Bay Ranch. They range in size from less than an acre to a 1,681-acre parcel.
Tremendous secrecy has surrounded both the sale and Saalfeld, who owns other large tracts of land and Big Island companies.
Rather than offering its property on the open market, Parker Ranch in August 2009 sent a “confidential information memorandum” to a small group of prospective buyers. Each recipient “will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement,” according to the document from then-CEO William “Bill” Maris. He was let go last month after less than a year in that position.
In August, Parker Ranch issued a one-page letter to employees, retirees and ohana confirming the sale of roughly 3 percent of its 128,000-acre holdings.
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
First it was heat and drought in Russia. Then it was heat and too much rain in parts of the American Corn Belt. Extreme weather this year has sent grain prices soaring, jolting commodities markets and setting off fears of tight supplies that could eventually hit consumers’ wallets.
In the latest market lurch, corn prices dropped in early October, then soared anew, in response to changing assessments by the federal government of grain supplies and coming harvests.
The sudden movements in commodities markets are expected to have little immediate effect on the prices of corn flakes and bread in the grocery store, although American consumers are likely to see some modest price increases for meat, poultry and dairy products.
But experts warn that the impact could be much greater if next year’s harvest disappoints and if 2011 grain harvests in the Southern Hemisphere also fall short of the current robust expectations.
“We can live with high commodity prices for a period without seeing much impact at the retail level, but if that persists for several months or a couple of years, then it eventually has to get passed on” to consumers, said Darrel Good, an emeritus professor of agricultural economics at the University of Illinois.
An energy company on the Big Island will receive a $5 million loan guarantee from the federal government to help finish construction of a manufacturing plant in Kawaihae.
The announcement was made Thursday in a Washington news release by Hawaii’s Democratic U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka.
Big Island Carbon’s $25 million plant will convert discarded macadamia nut shells into a product that can generate power, filter air and purify water.
Plans call for the company to buy about 10,000 tons of more than 20,000 tons of shells produced annually on the Big Island to convert into 1,000 tons of granular activated carbon.
Big Island Carbon will power its own operations. Any excess biofuel or gas will be sold on the island.
SAN DIEGO — In a laboratory where almost all the test tubes look green, the tools of modern biotechnology are being applied to lowly pond scum.
Foreign genes are being spliced into algae and native genes are being tweaked.
Different strains of algae are pitted against one another in survival-of-the-fittest contests in an effort to accelerate the evolution of fast-growing, hardy strains.
The goal is nothing less than to create superalgae, highly efficient at converting sunlight and carbon dioxide into lipids and oils that can be sent to a refinery and made into diesel or jet fuel.
“We’ve probably engineered over 4,000 strains,” said Mike Mendez, a co-founder and vice president for technology at Sapphire Energy, the owner of the laboratory. “My whole goal here at Sapphire is to domesticate algae, to make it a crop.”