Critics call for extension of EIS process for Kauai Dairy

Published: Jul. 4, 2016 at 2:22 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 4, 2016 at 9:49 AM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KOLOA, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Billionaire Pierre Omidyar's plans for Kauai dairy is facing new criticisms over its waste management plan.

The dairy's original Environmental Impact Statement called for nearly 700 cows and the same amount of calves.  But behind the scenes, Omidyar's Hawaii Dairy Farms has told the state that it will only have 150 calves and will produce about 40 percent less waste.

Critics say that the dairy is downplaying its impact on the environment to get wastewater permit approvals.

"It surely seems like bait-and-switch to us," said Bridget Hammerquist of the Friends of Mahaulepu, which is suing to stop the dairy.  "I really believe they're saying whatever it takes to try to get approval to run something they've never run before."

Hammerquist said the state shouldn't issue a wastewater permit because runoff from the dairy could contaminate the area's drinking water and harm nearby beaches, where bacterial levels have soared.

"The issue here is we have all of our drinking wells in Poipu and Koloa are out there at Mahaulepu and the ground water that charges those wells are right under this diary," Hammerquist said.

In all, Hawaii Dairy Farms and Omidyar's Ulupono Initiates have made 27 revisions to their EIS.

Kauai Councilwoman Joann Yukimura worries that the public has not been able to comment on all of these changes.

"It does concern me if it's a moving target because people deserve to have a stable document to respond to," she said.  Yukimura says she likes the idea of a dairy that would help Kauai become more food self-sufficient but not at all expense of the environment.

"To supply food in a way that damages the environment is not going to be a good thing," she said.

The 45-day public review period for the EIS ends July 25.

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