Yes, yes, we all know (because Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar never misses an opportunity to remind us) that the burning of sugar cane in the fields of Central Maui from March to November every year is an old practice that has been on the island a long time and employs 800 people. That it causes some people irritation around eyes, nose and throat areas is a small price to pay for the fact that it employs 800 people.
Nonetheless, should HC&S cane smoke bother you filing complaints about excessive ash, dust and ground-level smoke with federal, state and local officials is now easier then ever thanks to a new free smartphone app just launched by Maui Tomorrow, which has been running a program called Clean Air For Keiki that collected cane burning complaints. Called CleanAirMaui, the new app allows residents to photograph excessive dust, ash and smoke, then tag it with time and location data as well as any explanatory comments the resident wishes to make (photos need to be taken through the app itself).
When filed, the CleanAirMaui “report” is then sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Health’s Clean Air Branch and the Maui Mayor’s office. The app allows people to post reports anonymously, should they wish. Users can also use the app to look at similar reports filed around the island.
“To make complaints about violations, the department says they need complete information–time, location, photos,” said Irene Bowie, Maui Tomorrow executive director, in a Sept. 27 press release. “This app empowers the community with accurate reporting to push for better air quality.”
To download the CleanAirMaui app, visit your smartphone’s app store. You can get additional information by visiting Cleanairforkeiki.org or calling Maui Tomorrow at 808-244-7570.
Photo of 2005 Maui cane fire: Forest & Kim Starr/Wikimedia Commons
About Anthony Pignataro
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He started work as MauiTime's Editor in 2003, took a couple years off starting in 2008, then returned to the staff in 2011. He's the author of "Stealing Cars With The Pros," a 2013 collection of his journalism and the Maui novels "Small Island" (2011) and "The Dead Season" (2012)–all of which were published by Event Horizon Press. In 2014, his one-act play "War Stories" won second place in the Maui Fringe Festival.