Dear Speaker, Maui Representatives and Maui Senators,
In South Maui, we are repeatedly buried in cane ash. Besides worsening asthma, and being a nuisance to locals and tourists alike as ash coats cars, pools, houses and yards, it is also life threatening. This ash is known to contain high amounts of Benzo(a)pyrene--one of the most researched carcinogens and the same chemical in tobacco smoke that causes lung cancer.
But there is no way to even regulate the ash due to one paragraph in the state laws, HI Rev Stat 46-17:
"46-17 Regulation of certain public nuisances. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the council of any county may adopt and provide for the enforcement of ordinances regulating or prohibiting noise, smoke, dust, vibration, or odors which constitute a public nuisance with the exception that:
1) An ordinance shall not be effective to the extent that it is inconsistent with any permit for agricultural burning granted by the department of health under authority of chapter 342B, or to the extent that it prohibits, subjects to fine or injunction, or declares to be a public nuisance any agricultural burning conducted in accordance with such a permit; and"
We are not proposing to outlaw cane burning, but simply allowing the county to be able to do something about it by deleting the previous paragraph from state law.
There are ways of harvesting that do not require burning. Even if HC&S still "must" burn in certain areas due to steep cliffs, the vast majority should be harvested by other methods.
It will only damage their profits, but if profits can only be made at the price of Maui's citizens getting cancer, it is up to you, our representatives to decide if it's worth the cost.
The extra cane trash could be put to use as a power source, mulch, or any number of other uses that would cover the cost of hauling it in from the fields.
Please do not stand by as we continue to coat Maui in black ash and fill our cancer clinics and act as if nothing is happening.
By taking action, you will be supported by your constituents. We have already begun a grassroots movement. At www.facebook.com/HCSCutCaneCompromise, you can find more information about how we are affected by cane burning, including how air quality data is often missing on burn days, and that the meter run by the health department is clearly broken. The South Maui monitoring station often logs negative values, which are impossible and indicative of the meter being in need of replacing.
Please take the first step with us. We have already drafted legislation to remove the paragraph that ties the hands of government. Take action, and help stop this antiquated harvesting technique that endangers your citizens.
Kihei and Honolulu