My main two points about cane burning are: 1) the ash from the burning of the plant material produces benzo(alpha)pyrene, one of the most dangerous carcinogens studied.
Trees, wood and cigarettes all produce this ash when burned.
Cigarette producers denied they were responsible for lung cancer for years. They were wrong, and millions of folks have died needlessly. (For more information, see www.facebook.com/HCSCutCaneCompromise.)
2) HC&S can still make a profit without having to use open-field burning. According to one of their employees, unburnt cane has been harvested in the same manner as burnt cane. Three times as many truckloads were needed to accomplish this, proving it can be done without burning.
Granted, a new problem developed at the mill--the excess green matter fouled their choppers--the step just before crushing to make sugar juice and bagasse.
Engineers of 2013 can certainly fix this!
The following letter was written in November by Adrienne Kleid and delivered to all of Maui's state representative and senators along with the bill that hopes to allow Maui County to adopt needed cane burning regulations. At this point, state law 46-17 specifically prohibits Maui County from doing anything at all about ag burning.
Adrienne is a graduate student a Hawai'i Pacific University and will follow up on this project.