This broke too late for us to include it in our cover story this week. On Wednesday, Sept. 26, Karen Chun delivered a petition containing 8,730 signatures to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar asking them to please stop burning sugar cane during harvest. Chun then met with HC&S GM Rick Volner and had what she described as a “cordial” meeting.
“I believe Mr. Volner when he says HC&S is trying to find a cost effective way to transition away from burning but I fear they see this as taking longer than residents are willing to wait,” Chun said in press release about the petition and meeting that she sent out yesterday. “Bottom line: How many more cases of asthma and hospitalizations are we willing to accept in order to keep cane jobs?”
This morning, Maui Now posted Volner’s official response to the petition (click here to read it). He didn’t say much that’s new, but this paragraph is worth keeping in mind for the future:
All of HC&S’ 800 employees are Maui residents—we live here too and care greatly about our community’s health. We have taken additional steps to mitigate the impacts of cane burning, such as more notification tools for people to find out, in advance, where and when we will be burning; improved weather collection data and analysis; and changes to burning practices. And we will continuously look for ways to improve our operations, while reducing our impacts to our neighbors.
While it’s not true to say that only transplants oppose cane burning (our cover story this week shows that), it is true that as more people move here, opposition to the burns will get hotter.