Letter From Maui County Environmental Coordinator

Aloha kakou,

I am writing to you as one of more than 100 e-mail complaints I have received over the past week. I am encouraged to see that you have directed your concerns to the appropriate regulatory and enforcement agencies (EPA, and Dept. of Health–Clean Air Branch), as well as the plantation themselves. I noticed that Kerry Drake of EPA Region 9 has responded to many or most of you. His general response is that he is asking DOH-CAB to follow up and determine whether the burn days, times and locations are within the conditions of the HC&S Agricultural Burning Permit.

I understand EPA’s regulatory limitations and believe that from the messages I am receiving, that the conditions of the permit are insufficient in protecting the community-at-large from the sorts of negative health impacts many of you are reporting. This merits our attention as a serious environmental health issue.

Anthony Pignataro, editor of Maui Time Weekly heard of the large number of complaints being heard on cane burning and is considering compiling a number of them in an article to highlight the community’s interest in addressing this topic. Many of the messages I received posed some sort of solution….green harvest instead of burning, using different equipment…..grow food instead of sugar to feed us, not just make a profit on an export crop….switch to a renewable energy crop or technology on some of the acreage…..and other ideas.

If any of you are interested in sharing your original messages with Anthony, I am cc-ing him here. It would be your choice whether to do so anonymously, or include your name. Some of you may have compelling stories, and photos to share.

As I work through the large number of messages I have received, I will do my best to respond to those that have specific questions or concerns. Thanks for your patience, as I have a number of issues I am addressing at any given time. Please feel free to contact me directly if you feel I may be of help in addressing your areas of concern.

Best, ROB

Rob Parsons
Executive Assistant for Environmental Concerns
Office of the Mayor