County urged to drop appeal of Lahaina wastewater case

A Maui County win in the U.S. Supreme Court appeal of the Lahaina wastewater case will have long-lasting, devastating effects on environmental health nationwide. By persisting in this appeal, the county is leading the charge to undo over 40 years of work protecting public waters.

The county has spent $4.3 million tax dollars paying lawyers to claim that polluting groundwater doesn’t count as pollution. Science and common sense say otherwise: Anyone who has visited Kahekili Beach consistently over the last two decades has seen the result of wastewater from the Lahaina plant flowing into the ocean and ruining the reef. The council and its lawyers can’t even deny it, the facts are so clear.

Now the issue is much bigger than one beach, island, or state. If the county prevails, polluters can avoid accountability by dumping chemical and biological waste into our oceans and lakes using below-ground flow as their pipeline. Active polluters across the country eagerly anticipate the legal loophole the county is pushing. And taking this case to the Supreme Court, the Maui County Council collaborated directly with an administration hellbent on rolling back environmental protections nationwide. This is not what Maui should be known for.

It’s time for the Maui mayor and council to think about the lasting effects its court battle could have, not only on their own constituents, but nationally as well. Please do the right thing for the people of Maui, and for all Americans: Drop this appeal!

Joseph Stern

Makawao