Tag Archives: Charles Hall

Declining Energy Continues, is Significant

Above all the local Hawaii issues, we still have the worldwide consequences of declining energy resources. The Bakken Field situation is nothing new — it’s something I’ve been well aware of over the years as I attended five Association for the Study of Peak Oil  conferences.

From Charles Hall, who is a world-renowned systems  ecologist:

The Death of the Bakken Field has Begun: Means Big Trouble For The U.S.

The Death of the Great Bakken Oil Field has begun and very few Americans understand the significance.  Just a few years ago, the U.S. Energy Industry and Mainstream media were gloating that the United States was on its way to “Energy Independence.”

Unfortunately for most Americans, they believed the hype and are now back to driving BIG SUV’s and trucks that get lousy fuel mileage.  And why not?  Americans now think the price of gasoline will continue to decline because the U.S. oil industry is able to produce its “supposed” massive shale oil reserves for a fraction of the cost, due to the new wonders of technological improvement.

I actually hear this all the time when I travel and talk to family, friends and strangers.  I gather they have no clue that the Great Bakken Oil Field is now down a stunning 25% from its peak in just a little more than a year and half ago:


The mighty Bakken oil field located in North Dakota reached peak production in December 2014 at 1.26 million barrels per day (mbd) and is now down to 942,000 bd.  This decline is no surprise to me or to my readers who have been following my work for the past several years.

I wrote about the upcoming crash of the Bakken oil field in my article (click on image to read article)– Published, NOV. 2013:


I ended the article with these sobering words:

There are only so many drilling locations available and once they run out, the Great Bakken Field will become a BUST as the high decline rates will push overall oil production down the very same way it came up.

Those who moved to the frigid state of North Dakota with Dollar signs in their eyes and images of sugar-plums dancing in their heads will realize firsthand the negative ramifications of all BOOM & BUST cycles.

Well, the Bust of North Dakota economy has arrived and according to the article, “The North Dakota Great Recession“:

Unfortunately by April 2015 it was clear that the oil markets were in a secular decline brought on by oversupply in the global energy markets fueled by a deep recession in China. As a result, companies started to lay off workers, and over the following months caused a massive exodus of people as jobs were eliminated. Nobody is exactly sure how many people have left the state, but some put estimates as high as 25,000.

The strongest real estate market continues to be Watford City with the weakest in Minot. However, even in Watford City the price of a three-bedroom rental home has come down from $2,500 in 2015 to a current price of $1,400. This represents a 44 percent decline of the rental price in the market.

Some folks believe the reason for the decline in oil production at the Bakken was due to low oil prices.  While this was part of the reason,the Bakken was going to peak and decline in 2016-2017 regardless of the price.  This was forecasted by peak oil analyst Jean Laherrere.  I wrote about this in my article below (click on image to read article)– Published, APRIL 2015:


I took Jean Laherrere’s chart and placed it next to the current actual Bakken oil field production:


As we can see in the chart above, the rise and fall of Bakken oil production is very close to what Jean Laherrere forecasted several years ago (shown by the red arrow).  According to Laherrere’s chart, the Bakken will be producing a lot less oil by 2020 and very little by 2025.  This would also be true for the Eagle Ford Field in Texas.

According to the most recent EIA Drilling Productivity Report, the Eagle Ford Shale Oil Field in Texas will be producing an estimated 1,026,000 barrels of oil per day in September, down from a peak of 1,708,000 barrels per day in May 2015.  Thus, Eagle Ford oil production is slated to be down a stunning 40% since its peak last year.


Do you folks see the writing on the wall here?  The Bakken down 25% and the Eagle Ford down 40%.  These are not subtle declines.  This is much quicker than the U.S. Oil Industry or the Mainstream Media realize.

And… it’s much worse than that.

The U.S. Oil Industry Hasn’t Made a RED CENT Producing Shale

Rune Likvern of Fractional Flow has done a wonderful job providing data on the Bakken Shale Oil Field.  Here is his excellent chart showing the cumulative FREE CASH FLOW from producing oil in the Bakken:


I will simply this chart by explaining that the BLACK BARS are estimates of the monthly Free Cash flow from producing oil in the Bakken since 2009, while the RED AREA is the cumulative negative free cash flow.  As we can see there are very few black bars that are positive.  Most are negative, heading lower.

Furthermore, the red area shows that the approximate negative free cash flow (deducting CAPEX- capital expenditures) is $32 billion.  So, with all the effort and high oil prices from 2011-2014 (first half of 2014), the energy companies producing shale oil in the Bakken are in the hole for $32 billion.  Well done…. hat’s off to the new wonderful fracking technology.

According to Rune Likvern in his article on the Bakken, he stated the following:

Just to retire estimated total debts (about $36 Billion, including costs for DUCs, SDWs, excluding hedges and income/loss of natural gas and NGLs) would require about 7 years with extraction and prices at Jun-16 levels.

Nominally to retire all debts (reach payout) would take an (average) future oil price close to $65/bo (WTI) for all the wells in operation as of end June – 16. This is without making any profit.

For the wells in production as per Jun-16, the total extraction of these will decline about 40% by Jun-17, and depletes their remaining reserves with about 20%. By assuming the operations remain cash flow neutral, total debt remains at $36 B in Jun-17.

As from Jul-17 this would now require an average oil price of about $73/bo (WTI) for these wells to nominally retire all debts (reach payout). Additional wells will add to what price is required to retire the total debt.

What Rune is stating here is that the $36 billion in total cumulative debt will occur by June 2017.  Thus, it would take an average $65 a barrel to just pay back  the debt in seven years.  With the way things are going in the U.S. and world economies, I doubt we are going to see much higher oil prices.

Furthermore, the work by Louis Arnoux and the Hills Group suggest the price of oil will fall, not rise due to a Thermodynamic Collapse.  More about this in an upcoming interview.

The United States Is In Big Trouble & Most Americans Have No Clue

As I have been documenting in previous articles (going back until 2013) the U.S. Shale Oil Industry was a house-of-cards.  Readers who have been following my work, based on intelligent work of others, understood that Shale Oil is just another Ponzi Scheme in a long list of Ponzi Schemes.

From time to time, I look around different websites that publish my work and read some of the comments.  I am surprised how many individuals still don’t believe in Peak Oil even though I explained the Falling EROI – Energy Returned On Investment quite clearly.

For some strange reason, some individuals cannot use deductive reasoning to destroy lousy conspiracy theories.  Moreover, if they do believe in Peak Oil, then they think there is a wonderful “Silver-Bullet Energy Technology” that will save us all.  I gather they believe this because the REALITY and IMPLICATIONS of Peak Oil are just too horrible, to say the least.  So, holding onto HOPE that something will save us, just in the nick of time, is better than accepting the awful reality heading our way.

And the awful reality of Peak Oil will be felt more by Americans as their lifestyles have been highly elevated by the ability to extract wealth and resources from other countries through the issuing of massive amounts of paper Dollars and debt.  Basically, they work, and we eat.

Unfortunately, the propping up of the U.S. market by the Fed and the domestic shale energy Ponzi scheme is running out of time.  This is why it is imperative for investors to start moving out of Bonds, Stocks and Real Estate and into physical gold and silver to protect wealth.

For the wealthy investor or institution that believe a 5-10% allocation in physical gold is good insurance, you are sadly mistaken.  While Donald Trump is receiving more support from Americans in his Presidential race, his campaign motto that he will “Make American Strong Again”, will never happen.  The America we once knew is over.  There just isn’t the available High EROI – Energy Returned On Investment energy supplies to allow us to continue the same lifestyle we enjoyed in the past.

So, now we have to transition to a different more local or regional way of living.  This new living arrangement will be based on capital that is “STORED ECONOMIC ENERGY or WEALTH.”  This can only come via the best sources such as physical gold and silver.

If individuals and countries have been acquiring physical gold and silver, they will be in better shape and will be able to enjoy more options than those who have been selling their gold and accumulating lots of debt and derivatives.

Check back for new articles and updates at the SRSrocco Report.  You can also follow us at Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.


Charles Hall on Fossil Fuels & Economic Growth

Richard Ha writes:

This Scientific American article talks about fossil fuels, economic growth, and why I'm always talking about the importance of our (much cheaper) geothermal energy here.

It looks at the work of Charles Hall, who talks about how the energy it takes to obtain energy, minus the energy you use to get your food, equals your lifestyle. That formula – energy return on investment, or EROI – lets us compare how we live now with how Hawaiians lived in older times. It allows us to compare apples to apples.

I know Charlie Hall very well. I brought him to Hawai‘i to give talks about this at UH Hilo and Manoa, as well as to visit Puna Geothermal Venture and our farm.

From the Scientific American article Will Fossil Fuels Be Able to Maintain Economic Growth? A Q&A with Charles Hall:

Q. What happens when the EROI gets too low? What’s achievable at different EROIs?

A. If you've got an EROI of 1.1:1, you can pump the oil out of the ground and look at it. If you've got 1.2:1, you can refine it and look at it. At 1.3:1, you can move it to where you want it and look at it. We looked at the minimum EROI you need to drive a truck, and you need at least 3:1 at the wellhead. Now, if you want to put anything in the truck, like grain, you need to have an EROI of 5:1. And that includes the depreciation for the truck. But if you want to include the depreciation for the truck driver and the oil worker and the farmer, then you've got to support the families. And then you need an EROI of 7:1. And if you want education, you need 8:1 or 9:1. And if you want health care, you need 10:1 or 11:1.

Civilization requires a substantial energy return on investment. You can't do it on some kind of crummy fuel like corn-based ethanol [with an EROI of around 1:1].

A big problem we have facing the alternatives is they're all so low EROI. We'd all like to go toward renewable fuels, but it's not going to be easy at all. And it may be impossible. We may not be able to sustain our civilization on these alternative fuels. I hope we can, but we've got to deal with it realistically.

Do you think we're facing limits to growth now?

I think if you correct the U.S. GDP for debt—in other words, the debt is some kind of not-real growth—then I think the GDP hasn't grown at all since 2005. It's just grown through debt. I think clearly growth has declined; it's possible that growth has either stopped or may soon stop.

Read the rest of the article



Amazing Amount of Support!

Leslie Lang writes:

Hawaii News Now ran a story last night on Richard Ha's being up for renomination to the state Department of Agriculture board, and state Senator Russell Ruderman's email to other senators about being "revulsed" at the idea of Richard being reappointed to the board. 

Click here for Hawaii News Now video clip

People have submitted an overwhelming number of letters to the legislature supporting Richard's renomination. Here's a link to all of them. 

I'll post here just a few of them; they are the ones that people copied to Richard:

David Fuertes


To Whom It May Concern;
My name is Stuart Nakamoto.  I am an Extension Economist with the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, and am part of the Risk Management Hawaii/LIFE team.  The statements in this message are my own and do not represent the UH nor CTAHR.
I am writing in strong support of the nomination of Richard Ha to a second term on the Hawaii State Board of Agriculture.
Richard brings a practical, common sense perspective to the table, as is reflected in his saying "If the farmers make money, the farmers will farm."  He represents the silent majority among producers, and his credentials as a farmer are beyond question.  We need that kind of representation for agriculture to be a vibrant part of the state and especially if Hawaii is to be self sustainable.

I strongly recommend that Richard Ha be re-appointed.


Stuart T. Nakamoto

Stuart T. Nakamoto, Ph.D.                                
Professor and Extension Economist, Agricultural Economics and Marketing of Perishable Products

University of Hawaii at Manoa

College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources

Dept. of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Sciences
Agricultural Sciences Bldg 314B

mailing address:
1955 East-West Road, AgSci 314B
Honolulu, HI  96822


We are Hawaii’s farmers & ranchers and floral & nursery growers who collectively produce more than 80% of the agricultural products, including food, grown in Hawaii. Additionally we are supported by community groups, agricultural support groups and key individuals and individual farmers and ranchers, large and small.  Our alliance includes the commodity groups, individual farmers and ranchers, Ag land owners and support groups, and community groups listed on the attached roster.

Richard Ha is one of the most respected and innovative agricultural leaders in the state. He has been farming successfully for over 35 years.  He is a leading advocate for small farmers, and is widely respected by his fellow board members on the Hawaii Board of Ag, where he has served for the past 4 years.  His widely shared opinions on peak oil, alternative energy solutions and profitable, sustainable farming are above reproach. We need an army of Richard Ha’s.  He’s a smart, selfless, likeable guy who knows what he’s talking about, and is an innovative, progressive and experienced farmer.  And who doesn’t know Richard’s famous quote “If the famer makes money, the famer will farm”. 

Richard is a current and active Board member for the following Boards; The Hawaii Board of Agriculture, Kohala Center, Hawaii Island Economic Development Board (HIEDB), Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) steering committee, Chair- Big Island Community Coalition and a Founding member of Hawaii Farmers & Ranchers United (HFRU).

Please support Richard Ha’s Nomination to the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.

Farming & Ranching is not what we do ~ It’s Who We Are

For Questions or Comments Please Contact:

Chris Manfredi, President, Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation

Alex Franco, President, Hawaii Cattlemen's Council, Inc.


Honorable Chairman Nishihara,

My name is Robert Rapier. I am a chemical engineer by training, with a focus on energy issues and food security issues, both of which are intertwined. My work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Washington Post, and I have appeared on 60 Minutes, The History Channel, and PBS to discuss energy issues. I have lived and worked on the Big Island for the past 5 years, during which time I have become well acquainted with Richard Ha.
Richard Ha is one of the most honorable men I have ever met, and his interests are in helping the people of Hawaii. Richard has described his position as neither pro nor anti-GMO, but rather pro-science. We need more critical thinkers like Richard to counter some of those whose knee-jerk reactions often lead to unwanted consequences.
Senator Ruderman should be ashamed of his comment at being "revulsed" at the idea of Richard being reappointed to the to the state Board of Agriculture. That sort of language hints at opposition that is based on a personal vendetta rather than on Richard's qualifications. I can think of nobody more qualified for this appointment that Richard, and I write today in strong support of his reappointment.


Robert Rapier Chief Technology Officer, Merica International, Kamuela, Hawaii 


Aloha Senators and associates, 

I have known and worked with Richard Ha for a few years, and one thing I believe everyone can agree on is that he always looks out farms and farmers. He himself has been a farmer for decades and has been highly successful maintaining a productive and profitable farm even amid increases in costs and fluctuations in the market. 

I'm a young professional working with sustainability and rural communities. As is common among my generation, I myself have substantial quandaries with GMOs, in particular around the misuse of patent infringement laws intimidating and suing farmers over uncontrollable and unintentional cross pollination, among other things, as can be seen in the following report by the Center for Food Safety http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/reports/1780/monsanto-vs-us-farmers-2012-update#

Though I do not support many of the corporations and policies around GMO, I do support the farmers right to choose their own crops and pursue a variety of options for their business in balance with the community's well-being. Richard Ha takes a balanced approach to this issue, understanding both the farm and farm business side of the issue as well as the greater implications to our communities. Richard Ha cares deeply about his community and his workers as can be seen in the changes to his own practices and unique and direct support to his workers.

The question of his qualifications should not be if he is for or against GMOs, but does he approach this issue in a balanced and logical way. He does that far more than most. There is a myriad of information and misinformation around GMOs and it is crucial to have someone on the Board of Ag who is open to hearing all sides. 

The Board of Ag should be supportive of new advancements and technologies that support farmers and benefit our communities, but it should be rigorous in its unbiased assessment of these new opportunities for farms. Richard Ha has always and will continue to advocate for the well being of farmers and Hawaii, and will do so in an open minded manner. That is why I do, and you should, support his nomination to the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.

Mahalo for your time,

Katie Schwind


Aloha Senator Nishihara Agriculture Committee Chairman,

My name is Michael Tarring. I am President of Ohana Banana Farm Inc. I have been farming for thirty years and currently farm apple bananas on 120 acres of land in Keaau. Were we produce 2,500,000lbs. of high quality apple bananas sold through out the state of Hawaii. We also employ 27 workers on our farm full time. 

I have known Richard Ha for thirty years and I consider him to be a very good farmer as well as a very important member of our Hawaii Ag. community. I would like to see Richard Ha reappointed to our state Ag. Board. We farmers need expert farmers like him representing us in Hawaii. 
Please support his nomination. 

Michael Tarring
Ohana Banana Farm Inc.


To whom it may concern,

My name is Henk B. Rogers. I am writing with regards to the nomination of Richard Ha.

I believe Richard to be the right man for the job. He has all the necessary qualifications from extensive experience as a farmer to having the perfect character for the job. I read that Senator Ruderman has a  “revulsion” to Richard’s nomination because of his stance on GMOs and Geothermal. I strongly disagree with Senator Ruderman who seems to be acting out of uninformed emotion.

Geothermal is one of Hawaii’s greatest clean energy assets. It is base-load which makes it the easiest to implement clean energy. People who oppose geothermal do so in complete ignorance of the damage done by existing oil/diesel fired power plants and the great track record of geothermal.

People who oppose GMOs are not thinking about the rise in population in the world and what that will mean. Our population is slated to reach 10 billion by the end of the century. We either grow food more efficiently through GMOs or we cut down the last of the rain-forests to make room for more ag-land. I don’t support Monsanto’s predatory business practices, so fix the business model. We need GMOs. Richard is not afraid to take controversial positions on important issues. He is exactly the kind of man you need on the Board of Agriculture.


Henk B. Rogers


Dear Senator Kahele,

You may remember that I did a lot of writing some time ago on the subject of agriculture. Weekly columns for the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board were called "Focus on Agriculture" and concentrated on the successful economic impact of diversified agriculture.

During that time — and we are going back 20+ years here — I came to know and admire Richard Ha. He was always available to talk about bananas, tissue culture, mountain biking as eco-tourism, sustainable choices for small farmers, and many other topics. I remember covering an event when Richard and his wife June were recognized for their sustainable efforts at an international conference called Food Choices 2000. He has farming experience himself plus much broader interests for the betterment of our island.

He continues in his new location to promote the business of farming and he continues to adapt technologies — the hydroelectric generation of power for the farm is one example.

I support the reappointment of Richard Ha to the State Department of Agriculture board.

Thank you,

K.T. Cannon-Eger


Aloha Ag Committee Chair Senator Nishihara and Committee Members,

This letter is written on behalf of Governor Abercrombie’s nomination of Richard Ha to the State Board of Agriculture.

During my eight year tenure as the Hawaii County Director of Research and Development under Mayor Harry Kim (2000-2008), I found myself intrigued, interested, and impressed by the global yet locally grounded perspectives of Richard Ha as we served on various committees and met on a number of topical issues.  We may not have agreed on every specific point, but I never questioned his credibility, his wisdom, nor his integrity.  Richard Ha is a man of the highest moral character who is willing to stand for his truth while consistently encouraging opposing voices to come together for dialogue and compromise.

Part of our Department’s purview was Agriculture, a huge and complex arena. Highly regarded and respected within the movers and shakers of Hawaii Island’s agricultural community is Richard Ha. >/p>

Somewhat of a Renaissance man, he is willing to challenge the status quo or popular majority if he has determined through data and scientific analysis that such a challenge is warranted and for the greater good.  He does this knowing the cost to both his personal and professional reputation.  And he has done so on both sides of the normal divide in agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture will be well served with such an objective, experienced, committed, and intelligent member on its Board.  

Please support Richard Ha’s nomination to the Board of Agriculture.

Mahalo nui loa,

Jane Higa Testa


Dear Sen. Kahele,

As a small farmer in the Umauma area of Hakalau, I am endorsing Richard Ha for reappointment for the State AG board. I believe Mr. Ha's successful commercial experience for 35 years shows he understands the needs of Hawaii's agriculture.   We need to maintain a Ag Board that has a balance of all ideas.   
Your assistance is appreciated.

Rodger Hansen

Hakalau HI 96710


Chairman Nishihara,

As the Chairman of the State Committee of Agriculture, I would like to address you to express my support.

I support Richard Ha’s candidacy to serve on the Hawai’i Board of Agriculture. Mr. Ha is a farmer with 35 years experience who has worked tirelessly for the agricultural communities of this State. He recognizes the importance of agricultural and has spent his life learning about and working on the land. He is unshakeable in his desire to lead our State toward sustainability.

He sees food security as a priority and understands the connection of agriculture and energy. Lowering food cost for both the farmer and the customer is most important.

Richard Ha supports all farmers including the conventional, permaculture and organic farmers. He works well with people from all backgrounds. He is very capable and humble…. giving of himself. The State is fortunate to have such a qualified person willing to give his time and talents to his fellow citizens.

Mr Richard Ha is an outstanding candidate to continue serving on the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.


Lynn Hamilton
Ka’u Hawai’i


Dear Hawaiian Senators,

I am a consultant in the area of energy/economy/environment. Formerly I worked as a Vice President at Lehman Brothers and Salomon Brothers and now sit on the Board of Directors of: Bottleneck Foundation, Post Carbon Institute, Institute for Study of Energy and Our Future, and Institute for Integrated Economic Research.  In the course my energy/economy work I have many colleagues on Oahu and the Big Island and have met and interacted with Richard Ha frequently over the past several years.

The world is headed for a transition – it may be smooth or it may be rough, but the primary drivers of economic growth – cheap energy and available credit, are waning.  Hawaii especially is vulnerable to high oil prices as you use oil directly for electricity and import oil indirectly in the transportation costs of most goods. Richard Ha is very knowledgeable about the energy foundation of our economies. He is a visionary on how to use local inputs in a sustainable way to produce basic needs (food, electricity).  He is selfless and cares deeply about Hawaii's future in an era of expensive oil, particularly as it pertains to food production and healthy, balanced diets.

I don't claim to know the future, but business as usual, in my opinion, will produce some unpleasant non-linear results.  Hawaii had a much larger population in the past so ambitious locally derived plans are definitely possible to succeed. Adaptive, flexible, ecologically informed thinking by pro-social, civically engaged leaders is what will make Hawaii a better place in the future. If I lived in Hawaii I would be going door to door in support of Richard Ha for Ag Board.  Your county/state needs more thinkers/doers like Richard, not fewer.  I hope you do some research on what he's accomplished and Hawaii's future doesn't become victim to politics as usual. Richard is a unique local resource you should take advantage of.

Nate Hagens

Nathan John Hagens

Director Institute for Integrated Economic Research

Bay City, WI 54723


Richard Ha has brought and will continue to bring, reasonable, balanced thought and determination to the State Board of Agriculture in the most pono manner for all. He doe NOT have blinders on and thinks "outside the box" – He is what we need – please, do what we know is good, re-appoint Richard Ha.

Most sincerely,
Penny Keli'i-Vredenburg
Hawai'i Island
 Aloha Nominating Committee and State Senators:
My name is Kelli Ragual.  I am a resident of Pepe'ekeo, Hawaii and am employed as an Accounts Payable Clerk.
As a community member of Pepe'ekeo, Hawaii, I support the views and visions of Mr. Richard Ha for a sustainable Hawai'i  and recommend that he be re-nominated as a member of the Board of Agriculture.
Kelli Ragual
Pepe'ekeo, HI  96783
Aloha Nominating Committee and State Senators:
My name is Alberdine Pascua, a native Hawaiian born, raised, living and working as a registered voter on the Big Island. I have worked in the tourist industry for 11 years, then 23 years for an aerial agricultural spraying company and since 2007, as an Office Clerk at Mauna Kea Banana Co., Inc.
My family's history is strongly affected by the presence of sugar plantation experiences and the traditions that were shaped within that culture. The sugar industry had a significant impact on our Hawaiian lifestyle and culture and its demise left a major portion of our labor force dependents struggling to survive.
Richard Ha not only understands that struggle, but he lives it everyday as a farmer and employer in the agricultural industry. His knowledge and experience has been an asset to the Department of Agriculture board in the past and if reappointed, he will continue to be the common sense voice for all the farmers needing our support to stimulate a sustainable economy. Hawai'i should not have to suffer through another agricultural breakdown at the hands of those that manipulate the system. Richard Ha can offer a balance to the discussion table and the board should be eager to have him present.
Alberdine Pascua
Hilo, Hawai'i 96720
I strongly support the reappointment of Mr. Richard Ha to the Board of Agriculture.
I have had the honor of knowing Richard for over 20 years. I have also worked closely with him in the partnership between Merriman's Restaurants and Hamakua Farms.
His 35 years in farming equips him with a wealth of knowledge and respect for the agriculture of Hawaii.
The fact that Richard is first banana farm in the world to be certified Eco OK demonstrates his concern for Hawaii's environment. Added to that is his top six in the country consideration for the Patrick Madden, Sustainable Ag Research and Education (SARE) award as further testimony to his ecological commitment.
He is one of the best farmers in the state of Hawaii. Hawaii is fortunate to have farmers of his caliber, and even more fortunate that they are willing to serve on a board that can help the entire state.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Please let me know if this letter can be considered testimony.
Peter Merriman
President of Merriman’s Restaurants
Chairman of Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman
One Bay Club Place
Lahaina, HI 96761
Peter Merriman
Merriman's Restaurants
-Do the Right Thing
808 446 8045
The Home of Hawaii Regional Cuisine
My name is Kim Kaaua-Bell, I reside in Hilo and currently employed as an Account Clerk. I am writing in support of Richard Ha's nomination to the Board Of Agriculture. Richard's extensive knowledge and insight has made him the right candidate for the Board. His ability to represent and support all sides of farming has gained him a huge following on the Big Island. His willingness to listen to others and look at facts is by far humbling.
Please elect him once again and he will prove to be a productive and successful member of the board.
Thank you for your time.
Dear Nominating committee and State Senators,
My name is Kailani Kala and I am a resident of Puna Hawaii for 28 years. I am a registered voter and an Accounts Receivable clerk at Panaewa Distribution Center. As a consumer, I am interested in local products and sustainability. I believe Richard Ha will support my views and I would like to support his re-nomination as a member for the Board of Agriculture.
Kailani Kala
Dear Senators,
This note is to re-affirm Governor Abercrombie's prudent nomination of Richard Ha to continue to serve on the State of Hawai'i Board of Agriculture.  While Richard has many positive attributes that make him an ideal candidate for the Board, the underlying  character aspect of Richard’s that I think is most important to focus on his integrity and intent to always "seek the truth" in order to find the best path for a community and society on whole to move forward in a complex global framework.  He clearly has the ability to think global and act local.
I met Richard a few years ago when he was trying to neutrally assess the potential impact of geothermal energy on the big island of Hawai'I and the entire state.  Richard flew to Iceland to meet with numerous experts in what is considered to be a global "center of excellence" for geothermal to understand IF what these experts were claiming would prove true in Hawai'i.  He spent the time to observe, listen and learn before drawing his own conclusions, which he continues to advocate and act upon today. 
Having interacted with him through the course of that visit and being familiar with the manner in which governing boards should act in seeking multiple perspectives to form informed policy, I think Richard Ha is the ideal person for the Board of Agriculture.  I would also suggest his resume of experience and years of successfully operating and evolving his farm on the big island makes him an obvious choice.
I would like to note that while I am a partner in a private equity group that invest globally in alternative energy/sustainability and which remains interested in the opportunity to develop a world class geothermal project on the big island, I have no historical or current business relationship with Richard Ha. I consider him to be a wonderful friend and an advocate of the democratic process of informed decision making. He's a role model to us all, including those who may not share his specific views on specific topics.
Governor Abercrombie should be commended for his nomination of Richard Ha to the Hawai'i State Board of Agriculture.
Christopher McCormick
Partner, Ambata Capital Partners
Director, Reykjavik Geothermal
I have known Richard Ha for about a decade through our mutual interest in energy issues as they relate to Hawaii. I have always found Richard thoughtful, eager to learn and level headed.   
He particularly cares about maintaining a viable economy in Hawaii in a future that is likely to be characterized by an ever increasing price of oil.   
I have visited Richard in Hawaii and like most of his ideas and practice a great deal.   
I also respect that he is not afraid to speak out about his position, taking the position he believes is best for Hawaii and not necessarily the politically correct  one.    
Anyone who knows Richard understands that he is open and gentle while defending his views.  
Finally he has a great deal  of practical experience with modern farming in Hawaii and is a great antidote to the increasing importation of food to the Islands.
 I support his reappointment  to the state Board of Agriculture very strongly.
Sincerely, Charles Hall
Professor Emeritus of Ecology College of Environmental Science and Forestry
State University of New York Syracuse, New York 
Aloha Senator Nishihara, I am Patrick L. Kahawaiolaa a native Hawaiian as defined under the HHCA, 1920 as amended July 9, 1921. I am sending this testimony to all of you for your favorable consideration of another native Hawaiian whose ohana began a career in farming on Hawaii island on some of the most inhospitable lands available for agriculture and 35 years later their humble beginning Mr. Richard Ha is a successful farmer and President of Hamakua Springs in Pepeekeo. I've known Mr. Ha as an honorable person who has the interest of the people who struggle to make ends meet whether it be trying to find alternative ways to be sustainable in food product and in ways to help those same people with finding ways to reduce the high cost of energy and finding alternative forms of producing a clean energy source on Hawaii island. His knowledge in the agriculture field is truly an asset for those who contemplate making a living as farmers and his strong support for Agriculture and food security for Hawaii island and the rest of the islands goes without question.
I realize this confirmation hearing is the process we need so take to have someone with his abilities and expertise confirmed to served the people of Hawaii. His reported stance on controversial subjects such as GMO, Geothermal power has always been to have all those issues truly vetted and that the public has the ability to be included in the process.
Some of his other attributes are he we both graduated from Big island public schools. He is a combat veteran, like myself serving in Vietnam. He attended the UH-Manoa and majored in Accounting. I am asking for a favorable vote on his confirmation to continue to serve the people of Hawaii island and the rest of the State.
'Owau Patrick L. Kahawaiolaa
Kapoho Land Partnership
A Hawaii Limited Partnership
Kapoho Management Company, Inc.
General Partner
Hilo, Hawaii 
March 25, 2015
Members of the Hawaii State Senate
Senator Clarence K. Nishihara, Chair
Senate Committee on Agriculture
Subject:   Governor’s Message 598, Gubernatorial Nominee Richard Ha, for confirmation to the Board of Agriculture for a term that expires June 30, 2018.
Aloha Honorable Senators:
I am Lono Lyman, and I manage the Lyman family land holdings in Kapoho, Puna District, Island of Hawaii.
My family has farmed in Puna since the late-1800s.  Today, we have about a dozen agricultural tenants who are hard working families, putting food on our tables. 
Richard Ha’s origin as a farmer began in Puna.  After serving in the Army as a Captain in Viet Nam, he got an accounting degree from the University of Hawaii.  Then he began farming.  Through hard work and perseverance, he has established himself as a successful farmer, now based on the Hamakua coast.   Five family members and 70 employees operate his 600-acre Hamakua Springs Country Farm.
He is a supporter of all farmers in Hawaii, and his continued service on the Board of Agriculture will significantly benefit not only Hawaii’s farmers, but also all residents of Hawaii.
I ask that you vote to confirm him, as a vote for Richard Ha’s confirmation is a vote to support all agriculture in Hawaii and a vote to support Hawaii’s hardworking farm families.
Mahalo a nui loa,
A Lono Lyman
Lono Lyman
President Kapoho Management Company, Inc.
Manager Kapoho Land Partnership
Dear Senators, 
I am writing to support the nomination of Richard Ha for another term as a member of the State's Board of Agriculture. 
As everyone who knows Richard will agree, he is a tireless advocate for the public interest in everything he does. He has dedicated his whole career to developing agricultural practices and other programs that better serve the environment and the people of Hawaii. What he has done on his own Hamakua Springs Country Farm is great testimony to that, in both farming practices and the use of renewable energy. 
In addition, he has demonstrated his strong commitment to Hawaii's sustainability through his many public roles, including his service on the Board of Agriculture, the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative steering committee, the Big Island Community Coalition, the State's Geothermal working group, and his informal community leadership in the thirty meter telescope process. Throughout all of his work, Richard has always been unquestionably honest, accessible, and straightforward with both the public and with elected leaders — and always focused on what is in the best interests of the people of Hawaii.
I offer these comments from the perspective of someone outside of Hawaii who has dealt with officials at the national level in Washington, DC, and in states and counties across the country. I served the country during the Clinton Administration for over five years at the White House as a Presidential appointee at the Office of Management and Budget (where, among other things, I worked closely with the Department of Agriculture), and for two years as the Senate-confirmed Deputy Secretary of Energy, the number two official at the DOE. I was also on President Obama's transition team and I continue to serve informally as an advisor. Currently, I am a member of a Congressional advisory panel reviewing the governance and structure of the nation's nuclear weapons programs. I also serve at the local level, where I am the president of the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District in California. 
Throughout my experience in government, I rank Richard Ha as one of the most dedicated, honest, knowledgeable and public-focused people I have ever had the pleasure to know. I admire him greatly and encourage you to confirm him in order to continue his good public service for the people of Hawaii.
TJ Glauthier
TJG Energy Associates, LLC
Moss Beach, CA 94038
Testimony in favor of GM598, Richard Ha reappointment to the State Department of Agriculture Board
My name is Dexter Keawe`ehu Vredenburg, President of Hui Kako`o, a non-profit organization formed to help grassroots groups with technical support. I live in Waimea in Hawai`i County, I am a small farmer. My wife Penny and I have known Richard Ha since long before his banana plantation days – at Hilo High.
The single measure of Richard Ha that distinguishes him from anti-GMO opponents is that Richard Ha runs a number of farms where the basic tenet is NOT pro-GMO or anti-GMO – if it helps Hawai`i’s farmers and their agricultural programs, if it’s provably healthy and safe, that’s what we need to support.
Richard Ha has worked his way through a number of crises, notably the bunchy top banana virus. Despite that huge agricultural loss, he nevertheless came back and earned honor as the first banana farm, in the world to be certified as Eco OK.  He was spared but was deeply hurt as anti-GMO supporters cut down acres of papaya trees whose national reach depended on a Federally approved GMO method for Rainbow papayas. Farmers understand farmers and having your crop of year or older trees cut down really ruins a farmer.
We need Richard Ha to represent the objective viewpoint of a farmer who must have successful agricultural methods to survive. And remember, if the farmer fails, we have no food.
Keawe Vredenburg
Kamuela HI

HAWAII LABORERS-EMPLOYERS COOPERATION AND EDUCATION TRUST 1617 Palama Street · Honolulu, HI 96817 · Phone: 808-845-3238 · Fax: 808-845-8300 · URL: hilecet.org

Dear Chair Nishihara, Vice-Chair Kouchi and members of the Committee:

My name is Clyde T. Hayashi and I am the Director of Hawaii LECET. Hawaii LECET is a labor- management partnership between the Hawaii Laborers Union Local 368, its 5,000+ members, and 250+ unionized contractors.

We support GM 598, submitting for consideration and confirmation to the Board of Agriculture, Gubernatorial Nominee Richard Ha. We believe Mr. Ha is more than qualified to be part of the Hawaii State Board of Agriculture. During his first term on the Board of Agriculture, Mr. Ha has proven to be a staunch advocate for agriculture and food security and a great friend of local farmers.

Mr. Ha and his family run a 600 acre farm in Pepeekeo on the Big Island, which I have visited several times. Their Hamakua Springs Country Farms grow bananas which feed many local families. In keeping with his strong beliefs on sustainability, Mr. Ha added a hydroelectric plant on his property which will help him avoid the high electric prices on the Big Island and allow his farm to become much more sustainable.

Mr. Ha has been a leader in the fight to have science lead our agricultural policies. He has been recommending the formulation of a task force or working group to facilitate objective discussion on the issue of GMOs. Mr. Ha believes having a taskforce where people from all sides of this issue can present their view with supporting evidence in an atmosphere conducive for open discussion will be beneficial for the industry and for the community. Anti-GMO groups and individuals have chosen to push for passage of laws without having this discussion. Mr. Ha has been unafraid to stand-up to those who have instead chosen to use scare tactics, aggressiveness and personal attacks to promote their message. It is unfortunate that there are people with differing viewpoints who are opposing his nomination.

I consider the local papaya industry to be the best example of how the discussion on GMOs has become much too subjective and emotional. The ringspot virus nearly destroyed the entire papaya industry. In response, local scientists developed the Rainbow papaya, a GMO papaya, which saved the industry. Most local people know that papayas are a GMO product, yet many continue to buy and consume them. We all probably know people who eat papayas every day or nearly every day. There are those who say that GMO products hurt or kill people and want to ban GMO papayas entirely. If what they are saying is true, then why does Hawaii, with so many of our local residents consuming GMO papaya, have the highest life expectancy of any State?


We need a shift in our discussion and focus to "How do we feed our people?" Mr. Ha has been a leader in raising this topic to the forefront of public discussion. How does our state become food secure and how do we achieve food sustainability? With our huge dependence on imported food, how do we grow more of the food we consume? Mr. Ha will be a leader in this critical discussion and help to develop policies which will move us closer to our goals.

In addition to his support of the local agriculture industry, Mr. Ha is also a staunch advocate of geothermal energy. He believes geothermal energy is the best way to stabilize electric costs, a huge factor and expense in agriculture. Affordable electricity is needed for our local farmers to have a better chance to survive and prosper.

Mr. Ha is a life-long farmer who understands the challenges that local farmers face. He is a staunch advocate for agriculture and food security. He is a leader in the development of geothermal energy which will provide stable, affordable electricity and he is a community leader who is a strong advocate for the Thirty Meter Telescope and for the Big Island Science and Technology industry. Mr. Ha is exactly the kind of leader we need on the Board of Agriculture.

Mahalo for the opportunity to express our strong support for Mr. Richard Ha. 


Lee West


Aloha Senator-

I would like to offer my support for Mr. Richard Ha to be appointed as a member of Agriculture Committee.  I have known Mr. Ha from a number of years now.  We occasionally meet at community meetings as well as public forums.  I found him being a good listener and supportive of a project I am interested in.

You see, I am a founding member as well as an officer for the Piihonua Hawaiian Homestead Community Association in Hilo, Hawaii.  We have been blessed with having a year round stream in the back of our DHHL homestead.  I found out that he was also interested and working on installing a hydroelectric at his farm, so I would always ask him on the process and issues he needed to address obstacles to overcome.

I had previously gone to the Department of Land and Natural Resources here in Hilo to find out how we can generate electricity from our stream.  They basically tried to talk me out of it because they informed me that I needed to go to various other state and county regulatory agencies and they were not sure which ones and what department I had to go to.  Needless to say, I was disillusioned to learn that our Association has access to a natural resource we can easily harvest, but not able to tap into this energy source.

In any event, upon talking with Mr. Ha, he informed me that he took years to go through the “red tape” but finally was able to get the proper permits from the various regulating state and county departments.  However, he has it up and running at his farm.  He offered his help and when I am ready, he would advise me of the process.  He invited me to visit his farm and view his hydroelectric system which he has installed and currently in use on his farm.

When I fly along the Hamakua Coast on Hawaiian Airlines, I see many rivers and streams that run from Mauka to Makai, I can just imagine the farms and homes which can benefit from a simple hydroelectric system to power their homes and farm enterprises.  His knowledge, experience and skill level would go greatly forward to help his neighbors and friends lucky enough to have flowing water next to their lots.

The Hamakua Coast was the bedrock for agricultural lands that was used to grow sugar in its heydays.  I feel that with Hawaii’s effort to become self-sufficient in food, the Big Island could and should be the breadbasket of Oahu and Maui who are converting prime agriculture lands into housing.  Here on the Island of Hawaii, we are blessed to have good soil and ample rain to grow anything we wish to harvest. Richard would be a tremendous asset to have on the Ag Committee since he has the vision and attitude to overcome obstacles and challenges.

I found out from a technicial at CHTAR that the Island of Hawaii has 11 of the 13 types of growing climates. Therefore, we should be able to sustain our population with locally grown produce such as vegetables, fruits, and livestock.  This has Mr. Ha’s career choice.  Hawaii would be better served by a person of his knowledge, skills, and experiences in agriculture and related fields.  In this manner, Hawaii is able to import less and less of what we consume and create jobs and careers for future farmers and ranchers.  I should know, I was a Sales Manager for a Big Island Supermarket Chain for over 20 years. We bought our goods via Matson and Air Cargo.  Many of the products “locally grown” would benefit our State of Hawaii residents if grown here.  And this is what I feel Mr. Ha brings to the table as a member of the Agriculture Department and I wholehearted support his continued presence on the Agricultural Board.


Ronald T. Kodani

Vice President, Piihonua Hawaiian Homestead Community Association




Chairperson Nishihara and Members of the Committee,

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on Governor’s Message 598 for the consideration and confirmation of Richard Ha to the Board of Agriculture.  The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) strongly supports Mr. Ha’s nomination and reconfirmation to the Board of Agriculture.

Richard comes from three generations of farmers and has ***an extensive local agricultural background.  Richard is the founder and president of Hamakua Springs Country Farms, a 35 year old diversified agriculture operation consisting of 600 acres and employing 70 workers.  As president of Hamakua Farms, Richard has a wealth of knowledge about the agriculture industry in Hawaii and the challenges and opportunities the industry faces. 

Richard is also an active participant in the local community. He is the founding member and president of the Big Island Community Coalition, member of the Hawaii Clean Energy Steering Committee, board member of the Kohala Center and co-chair of the geothermal working group.  As a current member of the Board of Agriculture, Richard is a vital contributor to Board deliberations, bringing a farmer’s perspective to all discussions.

Based on Richard’s extensive local agricultural experience, community involvement, and solid track record as a current Board member, the HDOA strongly supports the consideration and reconfirmation of Richard to the Board of Agriculture.       

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.


SUBJECT:  Governor’s Message 598 Reappointing Richard Ha to the Board of Agriculture,

State of Hawaii

Aloha Chair Nishihara, Vice Chair Kouchi and members of the Senate Agriculture Committee,

Richard Ha is a hard working and successful farmer who has served Hawaii extremely well as a member  of the Board of Agriculture (BOA) for the past four years.  He should be confirmed to a second term on the BOA where he can continue to be a thoughtful advocate for agriculture in Hawaii.  His family farm, Hamakua Springs, is at the forefront in terms of demonstrating the practical application of 21st century cultivation practices such as greenhouse and hydroponic techniques, aquaponic technology, food safety practices and alternative energy utilization.  Similarly, the innovative marketing of his farm’s products has opened the door for many other farmers to realize its significance to the success of an agricultural enterprise.  Essentially, Hamakua Springs is a working model for successful agriculture and Richard has always demonstrated his willingness to share his experience and knowledge with anyone who wishes to engage.  Having known Richard for over 30 years and having served with him on the BOA, I can say unequivocally that he is an honorable person who has a deep commitment to Hawaii which is reflected in his dedication to the agricultural industry in our state.  I have also observed that he works extremely well with the other members of the BOA to develop solid solutions for, at times, complex issues that demand extensive research and collaboration. His encouragement to new farmers who appear before the BOA for leases or loans is heartfelt and inspiring to them.  The agricultural industry in all its aspects will continue to grow and thrive with Richard’s leadership.

Please consider my strong support for Richard Ha in your deliberations.  You can be confident that he will serve all of Hawaii well as a member of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.

Mahalo for the opportunity to share my view.

Russell S. Kokubun


Aloha Senators,

I am writing this letter in support of the reappointment of Richard Ha to the State Board of Agriculture.

My name is Petra Wiesenbauer and I have been a Big Island resident for over 15 years. I live in Leilani Estates by Pahoa and am the owner of Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast. I have known about Richard Ha for many years, but met him personally in May of 2012, when the Hawaii Island County Council tried to pass a bill to establish a one-mile buffer zone around the Puna Geothermal Venture, in which properties could have been bought out by the County and then were to be kept uninhabited. It would have been a disaster for the residents of this area. At the time we had formed a residents group opposing the bill and in support of constructive collaboration with PGV. We had asked Richard Ha to join our group and support us in our venture. With the help of Richard Ha we were able to make our voices heard and in the end the bill did not get signed into law. Instead a process began together with a consultant (Peter Adler) to support safety and health in this area and make future decisions based on facts and not fears or assumptions.

It was at that time that a continued relationship developed with Richard Ha and I have since been able to witness many of his concepts, approaches and innovative projects.

Richard Ha is a remarkable person and some of the most outstanding characteristics about him include the following: 

  • He has decades of successful farming experience in a wide range of soil conditions and environments.
  • He is a visionary and oftentimes far ahead of the mainstream operations: he continuously seeks innovative ways to reach sustainability, efficiency and integration into the local culture and economy. Examples are (1) his focus on sustainable energies and the implementation of a hydro-power system on his Hamakua farm, (2) the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to study the lay-out of his land, determine the best use and monitor the farm’s crops, (3) implementation of new methods of farming responsibly in terms of the use of chemicals;
  • He is a community integrator and not polarizer. His interest is to bring people together to facilitate dialog and communication between different groups and opinions. He is solution oriented.
  • He has a social conscience and always looks out for the little people here on this island, the rubbah slippa folks. As soon as you talk to him you will notice this and it is documented over and over again in so many of his actions: the way he believes in the strength of a united community, the way he takes care of his family and employees at the farm and the respect he has here in this business community, on a State level and beyond the State of Hawaii.
  • He is a solid, down-to-earth person who will always take responsibility with a bigger picture  and long term vision in mind. It is never about personal agenda for him. It is always about “what is good for this community”.

Re-appointing him to the Board of Agriculture will be a benefit to the Ag community and the State of Hawaii. His visions can help the farming community to adopt strategic and all-encompassing solutions.  With his strong focus on food and energy sustainability for this great State of Hawaii and his connectedness with many other strategic thinkers and innovators all across the country, it would be a great loss for us, if his nomination was not approved.

I sincerely ask you to support the re-appointment of Richard Ha to the Board of Agriculture.

With warm Alohas,

Petra Wiesenbauer
Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast
Pahoa, HI 96778



Can Geothermal Exist In Harmony With the Hawaiian World View?

Richard Ha writes:

On Thursday, Kalei Nu‘uhiwa and I spoke on a geothermal panel at the UH Manoa’s Richardson School of Law.

Kalei talked about Papakū Makawalu, a Hawaiian deconstruction of the universe into its basic component parts. Here is an interesting talk she gave on this topic about a year ago. (It’s about 13 minutes; well worth a watch.)

From the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation:

Papakū Makawalu is the ability of our kupuna to categorize and organize our natural world and all systems of existence within the universe. Papakū Makawalu is the foundation to understanding, knowing, acknowledging, becoming involved with, but most importantly, becoming the experts of the systems of this natural world.

At our panel discussion, the essential question was: “Can geothermal exist in harmony with the Hawaiian world view?”

Kalei’s answer, as I understood it, was, “Yes – If we have a full discussion ahead of time to assure that all concerns are adequately addressed. We need to understand and be comfortable in knowing what its effect on the Hawaiiian environment would be.”

I agree with this point of view. When we were asked what would we do if one of the geothermal developers did not agree to abide by this I said, “Then they need to get out of here!”

Hawaiians in pre-contact time were very successful. Here in Hawai‘i today, we are less successful.

This is why I really like Charles Hall’s EROI concept, which measures net energy. It provides empirical data that compares use of energy from ancient times to the present. It’s a way of comparing apples and apples across time.


EROI is our Common Energy Language

We need a common frame of reference, and I think Energy Return on Investment (EROI) might be it.

It’s a simple concept: The energy you use to get energy, minus the energy it takes to get your food, gives you your lifestyle.

A mama cheetah needs to get enough energy from a rabbit to feed the kids, miss catching a few more rabbits and still have enough energy to catch another one, or else the species goes extinct.

All organisms, organizations and civilizations need surplus energy or they go extinct.

Professor Charlie Hall is the father of the EROI concept, and he has influenced me a lot. This is the Charles Hall paper that got my attention.

Professor Hall and his colleagues have been calculating the EROI of many energy sources. They’ve found that in the 1930s, you could use the energy in one barrel of oil to get you 100 more barrels of oil. By the 1970s it became 30-1. Now it is around 10-15 to 1. It is taking more energy to get energy.

The tar sands in Canada have an EROI of around 6-8 to 1. Shale oil, an incompletely cooked oil, is around 2.5 to 1. Biofuel is less than 2-1.

The EROI for geothermal is about 10-1, and because the Big Island will be over the geothermal “hot spot” for 500,000 to a million years, geothermal costs will remain stable.

Professor Hall estimates that it will take an EROI of 3-1 to maintain our present infrastructure – and that’s not counting the food we eat.

The significance of EROI analysis is that it applies to all of us, from ancient times to now. It’s the common thread that runs through the gift economy – such as the type the ancient Hawaiians had – as well as today’s market economy. It is about surplus energy. This is the common language we all can speak.

Some who are off the grid already have surplus energy, and others are on the grid and need time to transition. What energy source, under what conditions, can we use to help ourselves – and future generations of us?

This is the common language we need to be speaking, combined with Patrick Kahawaiola‘a wisdom: “It’s about the process.” He’s saying that if we follow the process, then everyone who contributes to the process makes for a better end result. Therefore, we must aloha everyone, no matter on what side of the issue they are on.

We must also incorporate Kumu Lehua Veincent’s wisdom: “What about the rest?” This is about all of us, not just a few.


This is why I am so encouraged by the meetings that have been taking place. We are moving toward common ground.


2011 Peak Oil Conference, Part 3: Energy Return on Energy Invested

I was Hawai‘i County’s representative to the 2011 Association for the Study of Peak Oil conference in Washington, D.C., which just concluded.

This was the fourth time I’ve attended the conference. After my first ASPO conference it hit me: I learned too much! It became my kuleana.

This is the third in a series of posts about information gleaned from this year’s conference. Note that everything I’m writing about is based on numbers, not my opinions. I am relaying information from very credible people who have gone through the peer review process and been vetted.

Energy Return on Energy invested (EROI or EROEI)

In a sentence, the definition of EROI: “The energy it takes to get energy – minus the energy it takes to get food – equals our lifestyle.”

Charles Hall, David Murphy and others, who have done peer-reviewed analyses of the concept of EROI, argue that organisms, organizations and civilizations must generate surplus energy in order to survive. A mother cheetah must be able to chase down rabbits and gazelles, miss a few, feed the kids and still have enough energy to run down more or else the species goes extinct. Ancient civilizations followed this principle.

This is Charley Hall, the father of EROI, on the left.


Awhile ago, I read through his paper “What is the Minimum EROI that a Sustainable Society Must Have?, which he authored with Stephen Balogh and David Murphy, and I immediately got it. At the conference, I asked Charley to autograph a copy of it for me.

I was sitting right next to him and asked him how come there are no analyses for “hot” geothermal, like we have in Hawai‘i and Iceland. His answer was that we are a tiny part of the world solution. I guess so – we are only 2 million out of 7 billion people that are so lucky.

If it takes more energy to get the energy (as in some biofuels), then someone needs to explain to regular folks why we would do that. Otherwise, we start thinking about Easter Island.

Can we pay back our debts if the economy cannot grow? It is clear that the economy cannot stand a triple digit oil price. We have been using twice as much oil as we have been finding for more than 20 years now.


And it is becoming more difficult and, consequently, more expensive to develop new sources. It seems reasonable to assume that oil prices will rise and fall with demand. But the prices will tend to keep rising as the population’s demand rises and as old fields naturally decline.

And doesn’t modern economic theory assume continuous growth? But growth stops when oil reaches triple digits per barrel. Are we facing the end of growth? It is prudent that we plan for the worse and hope for the best.

Both Gail Tverberg and Jeff Rubin write blogs about this (both their blogs are always available by clicking in the side bar at right).

Here I am with Gail. I cannot refute her arguments, so I spend all my time figuring out workarounds. That’s why I push geothermal so hard. It’s the bridge that will enables other renewables to cross.


Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) in Honolulu is sponsoring a talk about the end of growth by Richard Heinberg on November  9th. Heinberg is a Senior Fellow-in-Residence at Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “building more resilient, sustainable, and equitable communities.”

This is Richard Heinberg on the left.


This series of posts about my trip to the 2011 Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) continues. Read Part 4 here.

Go back to Part 1 and Part 2.