OK, so now it's clear the “biologists” and Koloa Nimbys were exaggerating and even flat-out lying in their hysterical, hyperbolic “urgent” plea to the county to intervene and halt the Hawaii Dairy Farms project.
They lied, and said HDF had never consulted with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). But County Engineer Larry Dill, in his detailed response to the fear-mongers, wrote:
I have contacted Mr. Ben Vinhateiro of the NRCS who informed me that HDF consulted with NRCS early on in the process to develop their Conservation Plan, and that HDF continues to consult with NRCS as new concerns are made known and new information becomes available.
They lied, and said the West Kauai Soil and Water Conservation District (WK SWCD) had “rubber-stamped” the dairy's conservation plan, which was not given a “thorough review.” But Dill notes:
I have also contacted Mr. Peter Tausend of theWK SWCD . The WK SWCD, with technical support from the County, reviewed and approved the Conservation Plan prepared by HDF with assistance from the NRCS. The WK SWCD continues to monitor the project.
They lied, and claimed “HDF has begun major construction (moving large amounts of soil), despite their failure to secure the required State permits for their proposed dairy.” Again, Dill noted that HDF had qualified for an ag exemption to the county's grading, grubbing and stockpiling ordinance:
Additionally, on April 3, 2014, without having received a complaint but because of concerns that had been raised by the community, the DPW [county Department of Public Works] inspected the site. DPW found that any grubbing or grading work that had been done by that time did not surpass the thresholds established by the Grading Ordinance. Also, significant clearing had been done, but clearing is not an activity that is regulated by the Grading Ordinance.
They lied, and claimed the New Zealand rotational pasture model that HDF is following “has had a devastating nationwide environmental impact” in that nation. Except a) that's a blatant overstatement; and b) it's more than a little skewed to compare one dairy on Kauai to the nationwide impacts in a country where dairy is the primary export industry.
They lied, and stated flat out: “Based on the nutrient load (waste) that the cows will deposit on the grazing acreage and which will remain there, pollution cannot be prevented.” But they don't actually know that for a fact. Even they had to admit the dairy's revised comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) is still being reviewed by the state Department of Health. As Dill wrote, after communicating with Sina Pruder, Chief of DOH Wastewater Branch:
I have contacted her and she confirms that the Wastewater Branch is reviewing all aspects of the proposal dealing with management of waste to ensure the protection of water quality. Hawaii Dairy Farms has been responsive to comments from the Wastewater Branch, and Ms. Pruder noted that Wastewater Branch's approval of their building permit applications is contingent upon approval of their livestock waste management plan in accordance with Chapter 11 -62, Hawaii Administrative Rules, "Wastewater Systems" and the Guidelines for Livestock Waste Management.
They lied in the letter and to the newspaper, which quoted Surfrider's Carl Berg as saying:
[T]those who signed the letter support having a dairy farm, but not in Mahaulepu.
“It’s just the location, really,” he said. “If we didn’t have to worry about everything running into the ocean, Surfrider wouldn’t care.”
Except that's not true. Surfriders Gordon LaBedz and Robert Zelkovsky have been quite vocal about the evils of milk-drinking, the unacceptable levels of greenhouses gases released by cows and the horrors of “industrial agriculture." The letter-writers also whine the dairy isn't completely "sustainable." Mmmm, like Zelkovsky's tourist-dependent wedding video business is?
And both Carl and Don Heacock have been complaining for years about Grove Farm's control of Waita reservoir. If the dairy, a big water-user, is destroyed, or at least driven out of Mahaulepu, it may help to loosen Grove Farm's lock on Waita — a lock that was tightened when GF was allowed to designate that acreage as Important Ag Land largely because it has abundant water.
Ironically, the letter-writers claim that HDF should be booted because it supposedly misrepresented the facts. By that same reasoning, we should also reject the letter-writers, because they're doing the exact same thing, while claiming everyone is lying but them.
There are legitimate questions and concerns about the dairy. For example, New Zealand dairy consultant Derek Fairweather is quoted in a 2011 Star-Advertiser article as saying a 1,000-cow pasture farm needs about 1,000 acres. HDF, however, is proposing to start with 880 cows on 582 acres, with plans to expand to 1,800 cows on the same acreage. Sounds like a disconnect.
So yes, we should be scrutinizing the dairy plan. But it serves no one well when concerns are inflated and distorted and fears are intentionally fanned.
The Garden Island, in a follow up with the facts that was given a smaller splash than the fibs, quotes lead letter-writer Bridget Hammerquist as saying Dill's response is “scary” and “sad.”
Actually, what's sad is seeing some of the names that were affixed to that letter of deliberate distortion. Because next time their expertise is needed in a legitimate environmental issue, they won't have any credibility.