LOS ANGELES — The Hawaii Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a proposal to issue $50 million in special purpose revenue bonds to support plans by Florida-based BioTork Hawaii LLC to turn agricultural waste into biofuel and animal feed.
The legislation already passed through three Senate committees. If the Senate approves the measure, it will go to the House.
Legislators face a packed agenda of final votes as the House and Senate must pass most bills by March 4 to send them to the other chamber. Legislation not approved before the crossover deadline will not become law this session.
The House is scheduled to take up nearly 200 bills, while the Senate is scheduled to consider more than 300.
Among this flurry of bills, is Senate Bill 2970, which would authorize the issuance of bonds to plan, construct and operate a biofuels facility. The bonds would be repaid using operations revenues.
BioTork began working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in 2011 to create a system using algae to find new applications for agricultural byproducts and wasted crops.
The state's Department of Agriculture granted BioTork and the PBARC $200,000 in April 2013 to move the project to pilot scale.
"It is a zero-waste concept that takes agricultural waste and converts it into biofuel," said James Nakatani, executive director of Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corp. "It creates an algae that breaks down to a protein."
It uses waste from papaya and other crops, as opposed to other biofuel processes in which corn is grown to produce the fuel, Nakatani said. The protein created through the process could also be used to feed livestock, he said.
Sen. Gil Kahele, a Democrat, and Sen. Malama Solomon, a Democrat, introduced the legislation.
To issue such bonds, the project must create a public benefit.
The public benefit is using agricultural waste to help Hawaii be more self-sufficient and less dependent on the mainland for fuel, Nakatani said.
If the legislation passes, BioFuel's business plan would still have to be approved by the state's finance department before bonds could be issued.