A group of Maui residents called Stop Cane Burning has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health seeking an injunction to prevent Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company from burning sugar cane.

The lawsuit is the first on Maui to be filed in Hawaii’s new Environmental Court, according to a press release.

The complaint alleges that burning sugar cane violates the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act (HRS Ch. 344) and several provisions of the state constitution.

The plaintiffs include Karen Chun, Trinette Furtado, and Brad Edwards. They are represented by attorney Lance Collins.

Sugar cane has been a mainstay of Maui agriculture since the late 1800s. From March to November, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. burns about 400 acres of sugar cane weekly, on average torching fields four days per week.

The group Stop Cane Burning formed in 2011 in response to residents’ concerns about the impact of cane burning on their health. But Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. officials have said that the jobs of its 800 employees would be at risk if cane burning were disallowed.

For more information, read Civil Beat’s prior coverage of the Maui sugar cane burning issue.

Civil Beat intern Marina Riker contributed to this post.

Sugar cane burn

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. burns cane in Haliimaile, Maui.

Courtesy of Maui Tomorrow Foundation

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