Stop Cane Burning raises over $25,000 in less than a month for legal fees

Injunction to stop HC&S Cane Burns filed in Maui’s Environmental Court
For Immediate Release
August 5, 2015

Wailuku, Maui – On July 30th Stop Cane Burning filed for an immediate injunction in Maui’s Environmental Court to stay the agricultural burning activities of Alexander & Baldwin (HC&S). The motion, filed by their attorney Lance D. Collins, seeks a preliminary injunction of the permitting and operations of cane burning on the basis that the activity is illegal and is causing irreparable harm to the community. Both the Director of the Department of Health and Alexander & Baldwin, LLC are named as defendants in the filing.

The 912-page filing alleges that the Hawaii Department of Health, through their issuance of an open burn permit, violated the public trust doctrine by putting the public’s health at risk. Stop Cane Burning Maui Founder Karen Chun states that “we are all guaranteed the right to clean and healthful environment by the Hawaii Constitution and that includes the right to clean air. HC&S cane burns are a clear violation of Hawaii’s constitution and should have been stopped back in 1971 when we already had proof of lung damage. How is it that 44 years have gone by and HC&S is still allowed to make our kids sick?,” asks Chun.

Stop Cane Burning presents check for $25,000 to attorney Lance D. Collins. Photo by Hokuaoka'ale Gilma

Stop Cane Burning presents check for $25,000 to attorney Lance D. Collins. Photo by Hokuaoka’ale Gilma

Stop Cane Burning raised over $25,000 for legal fees in less than a month through a GoFundMe account. “This shows that the community is concerned about their health and the health of their keiki (children) and ‘ohana (family). They’re willing to k?ko’o (support) this effort with financial contributions to aloha ‘?ina,” stated plaintiff Trinette Furtado.

Cane burning came about in Hawaii during the territory period as an industry wide practice after indentured servitude was abolished. According to Stop Cane Burning founder Karen Chun, HC&S continues to burn their sugar cane fields in order to reduce the number of employees that they need to hire. “It really is an anti-jobs practice that also substantially puts the public’s health at risk.” The court filing asserts sugar companies in other countries such as Australia, have switched to green harvesting techniques without cutting into profits.

The court motion includes Alexander and Baldwin’s 2015 10-K financial statements where analysts state that any future restrictions on cane burning are “not expected to have a material effect on A&B’s financial position, cash flows or results of operations.”

According to plaintiff Brad Edwards, there is something even more concerning about how the sugar cane burns have changed over the past 20 years. “What people may not realize is that HC&S is now a major user of Glyphosate on Maui, which is listed as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization. How much of this chemical is ending up in the smoke?” asks Edwards.

“Burning cane is an environmentally destructive practice that illustrates how A&B management is willing to put the health of all Maui residents (including the health of their own employees) and our environment at risk for their own financial gain” says Edwards. “The highly publicized HC&S burn on May 27, 2015 where elementary school children in Kihei were seen holding their shirts over their mouths struggling to breath showed just how dangerous and reckless this practice is.”

“The sugar cane industry is not ‘a Hawaiian institution’ and it was not K?naka who industrialized it. HC&S has had many opportunities to make positive changes but has failed time and time again to take the issue seriously and to start protecting our health and the health of our keiki,” states Furtado.

In the July 30th filing, Plaintiffs request preliminary injunctive relief that would invalidate the 2015 HC&S Burn Permit and ban A&B itself (HC&S) from conducting agricultural burning operations here on Maui.

A hearing has been tentatively set for 9:30 am on September 16th, 2015 in the Honorable Judge Cardoza’s Courtroom in the Second Circuit Court, Wailuku Maui.

The plaintiffs are Stop Cane Burning, Trinette Furtado, Brad Edwards and Karen Chun.

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Links:
Photo of plaintiffs Furtado, Edwards, Chun presenting check to attorney Collins. Photo credit: Hokuaoka’ale Gilma http://stopcaneburning.org/images/CheckCreditToFurtado.JPG

Injunction filed on July 30, 2015: http://stopcaneburning.org/pdf/InjunctionFiled2015-07-30.pdf

Initial Filing (Revised): http://stopcaneburning.org/pdf/RevisedFirstFiling20150707.pdf