Dairy owners blame closures on tough Hawaii Environmental Regulations

By Rick Daysog
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The owners of two Hawaii dairies now facing closure are blaming Hawaii’s environmental laws.

But critics say state regulations should not be relaxed to protect the dairy industry.

“I definitely don’t think they should be loosened,” said former Kauai lawmaker Gary Hooser, who is also the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.

“I do believe the dairy made a bad decision from the beginning … I do believe it was a bad choice of location from the beginning.”

On Thursday, the Hawaii Dairy Farms said it was discontinuing operations, saying “there was no clear regulatory path” for its business.

“(Rather) than incentivizing local food production to meet our state’s food goals, Hawaii’s environmental regulations seem to unfairly place dairies and other similar animal agriculture operations in the same category as wastewater treatment plants,” said Amy Hennessey, spokeswoman for billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative, the Kauai dairy’s financial backer.

The shutdown of the Kauai dairy comes after Big Island Dairy in Ookala announced in November that it will stop operating and will seek a buyer. The Ookala dairy has suffered multiple spills and was fined several times by the state.

But Hooser said the problem is not Hawaii’s environmental laws. He said the dairies are too big and too close to communities.

“It’s just way too much for pristine areas,” he said.

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