Finally, a final EIS on the proposed dairy

Last week, Group 70 International, the company that developed an industrial dairy plan for Pierre Omidyar, billionaire owner of Ulupono Initiative and its Hawaii Dairy Farms, released their final Environmental Impact Statement.

Yes, the very same company that developed the plan also conducted the EIS. Friends of Maha‘ulepu welcomes the chance to finally expose the clearly flawed industrial dairy plan. The plan is not supported by any independent environmental review and still lacks the required state approval. The filing of a final EIS does not mean there is any approval to operate the industrial dairy.

The only environmental review, to suggest their plan is safe, is authored by the developer of the plan. FOM is confident that an objective and independent review will expose the serious environmental harms that are certain to occur should an industrial dairy operate at Maha‘ulepu, just six tenths of a mile upslope from a beautiful beach and coastline rich in historic, archaeological and cultural value.

When Ulupono/HDF and Group 70 filed their FEIS, that began the government’s review to accept or reject the EIS. Ulupono and HDF still must obtain the required state approval to operate a dairy at Maha‘ulepu, even assuming the EIS is somehow accepted despite its lack of sound scientific data.

Their conclusions and claims have yet to be tested by any independent source. Although they claim they will begin their proposed milking operation with 699 pregnant cows (aka mature and milking per the dairy’s press release), their FEIS clearly admits they plan to expand the herd to 2,000 milking cows in production. What happens after that? What becomes of the babies that have to be produced to keep the cows milking?

The dairy proposed describes an off-site herd to assure there are 2,000 cows in production at all times. Where will they be kept? What is the volume of manure they will create and how close will that herd be to drinking water wells, endangered plant and animal species and the ocean?

A recent release in New Zealand disclosed that 60 percent of New Zealand’s fresh water is no longer safe for human contact because of pollution from industrial dairy waste: https://act.greenpeace.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1939&ea.campaign.id= 49911. The New Zealand dairy industry challenged the release in court and lost because the court found the information reported was true.

The Waiopili Ditch/Stream at Maha‘ulepu remains outrageously polluted with fecal bacteria. No one knows where it is coming from. HDOH (state Department of Health) hired Berkeley Laboratories to conduct special DNA testing of the water in the Waiopili Ditch/Stream to determine the likely cause of fecal pollution in water currently draining from the dairy site.

The EPA insisted that HDOH warn the public of the confirmed and chronic pollution. The warning signs are now up at Maha‘ulepu, but so is the pollution. This month, the fecal bacteria found was over 10,000 in just three ounces of water.

The state safe limit is no more than 130 fecal bacteria in three ounces of water. People swim at Maha‘ulepu and children play in the waters of the Waiopili that drain from the site onto the beach and into the ocean.

FOM is committed to whatever administrative or legal action necessary to stop this truly harmful proposal. We must protect our drinking water wells, the exclusive source of potable water for all of Poipu and most of Koloa. We must not let our reefs or any precious species to be lost. To learn more about the FEIS and our work, visit friendsofmahaulepu.org.

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Bridget Hammerquist is president of Friends of Maha‘ulepu, Koloa.

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