cane burning maui lawsuit

Today Tuesday May 17th the Stop Cane Burning’s lawsuit against the Director of the Department of Health and Alexander & Baldwin, seeking to stop cane burning activities on Maui, has been settled!

Under the direction of Judge Peter Cahill as settlement conference judge, the parties agreed to the following limitations on Alexander & Baldwin’s remaining planned cane burning activities:

– No cane planted on leased public lands or old government roads will be burned after June 30th. (This comprises approximately 20% of the land currently permitted for burning).

– Any other cane burning activities permitted must occur by December 25, 2016. No cane burning will occur after that date.

– Fields may not be burned less than eight weeks after herbicide has been applied nor may fields be burned less than four weeks after “ripener” has been applied.

– Other than the limited use of herbicides, no fields will be burned where pesticides have been applied.

– Fields burned within half a mile of any school, public or private, must be completely and entirely extinguished at least two hours before that school starts.

– Because DOH’s inspector finishes work at 3:30 pm and never works on Sundays, no cane burning will occur after 3:30 pm or on Sundays.

– The Department of Health has committed to following state law and will require future burning activities on public lands to assess the environmental impacts according to law.

Karen Chun agreed to waive her right to sue A&B for over-spraying her house and exposing her and her family to restricted-use type and other herbicides. The other individual plaintiffs also agreed to not sue A&B for health damages suffered as a result of cane smoke inhalation or exposure to pesticides.

“The more we investigated A&B’s operations, the more we realized that in addition to smoke, their pesticide application processes posed a huge risk to public health,” said Brad Edwards, one of the three plaintiffs. “We are glad that this agreement addresses these issues somewhat but urge that the public to contact A&B and the helicopter company to ask them to stop spraying glyphosate immediately.” He added that glyphosate was recently listed as a probable human carcinogen by the State of California.

“A&B is able to bend the entire political system to its will whether its stealing water, exposing the community to pesticides or choking us with smoke. It was clear that A&B and DOH were likely to use procedural delays to avoid any limitations to this harvest season, pushing off any resolution of the case by the court into 2017. And even at that, A&B has demonstrated recently with HB 2501 that an unfavorable court ruling will not stop them. Getting enforceable limitations on the current season and an agreement to end cane burning forever seemed to be a better option than a favorable decision on the legal principles after potentially years of appeals,” said Plaintiff Trinette Furtado.

“The over 2,000 members of Stop Cane Burning had the courage to stand up to one of the Big Five companies. And we are thankful that we finally have a definite end date to burning and additional restrictions on the burns. While A&B has spent millions of dollars fighting this lawsuit, our members raised, on average, $20 per member to cover court costs and expenses. We would also like to thank our attorney Lance Collins who agreed to take the case without compensation. It is only when we work together that the community can protect our health and welfare against the greed and big money influence of corporations like A&B, ”  said Karen Chun.

Karen also later added, “Our effort was a 3-pronged one:
1. Raising community awareness and making it safe for people to voice their objections to having the air polluted and their health impacted.
2. Suing DoH (and later A&B) to invalidate the burn permit.
3. Stopping their cash cow which was burning coal in their mill and selling it as renewable bagasse (fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane stalks are crushed) electricity at a greatly inflated price.
#3 was the linchpin that when we pulled it, brought the whole operation down.”

This is a momentous day for Maui, the people of Maui and the brave souls that spoke up against the pollution created by a large corporation and government agency that did not fulfill their job to protect the Maui citizens.

Photo Left to right: Lance Collins (attorney), Trinette Furtado, Karen Chun, Brad Edwards (Plaintiffs).


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  1. If the plaintiffs are satisfied with outcome of settled agreements, I am glad for their efforts to address infractions. I comment their representing attorney for his contributing legal counsel to the people of Maui.

  2. If plaintiffs are satisfied with settled on agreements, I’m glad for the outcome. Great example of collective efforts that benefit the entire community. I commend their representing attorney for his contributing legal counsel


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