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Environmentalists against oil-derived biodiesel

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WAILUKU, Maui — Environmentalists have come out against a plan to use palm oil-derived biodiesel from Malaysia for a demonstration project on Maui.

In June, Hawaiian Electric Co. received state permission to buy 1 million gallons of the biodiesel from Sime Darby of Malaysia. The fuel is to be used by HECO subsidiary Maui Electric Co. at the Maalaea Power Plant.

The Maui News reports environmentalists complain that plantations of the African oil palm replace rain forests in places like Malaysia, Indonesia and Borneo.

The director of Life of the Land, Henry Curtis, calls palm oil production "a human rights issue, a cultural issue and a justice issue."

In response, HECO said Tuesday that it shares a concern for the environment and human rights.

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