A group called Friends of Mahaulepu plans to file a lawsuit against Hawaii Dairy Farms for violating the Clean Water Act on Kauai through its preliminary construction activities for a new 578-acre dairy on the island’s south shore.
The notice of intent to sue was also sent to the social investment firm Ulupono Initiative, which funds Hawaii Dairy Farms, and the firm’s financial backer, eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar, among others.
The lawsuit would be the second challenging the planned dairy. Kawailoa Development, which owns a nearby resort and golf course, previously sued to have the dairy declared a nuisance.
Friends of Mahaulepu has hired Oregon attorney Charlie Tebutt to bring the case and contends that the dairy “threatens the survival of the precious and ecologically rich home of many threatened and endangered species.”
“This is the last place on Earth that should have an industrial dairy,” said Jay Kechloian of Friends of Mahaulepu in a press release. “The Garden Island does not want to become known as the Manure Island.”
Dairy cows graze in a field.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Kauai County approved Hawaii Dairy Farms’ $7.339 million building permit last November.
But Kyle Datta from Ulupono Initiative said that the company will not proceed with construction of the dairy buildings, utilities or effluent ponds before voluntarily completing an environmental impact statement.
In response to community concerns, Hawaii Dairy Farms cut back the dairy’s size by more than half to no more than 699 cows.
Amy Hennessey, spokeswoman for Hawaii Dairy Farms, said in an emailed statement that the Friends of Mahaulepu’s suit is “completely without merit and serves only to feed the inflammatory rhetoric of the Friends of Mahaulepu.”
She said that the only construction activity ongoing is the installation of water quality monitoring wells, fencing and the growing and mowing of grass.
The environmental impact statement is expected to be completed by the end of the year and will also explore the possibility of expanding the dairy to 2,000 cows.