A group of Maui residents called Stop Cane Burning has raised more than $25,000 for legal costs in an attempt to stop Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. from burning sugar cane.

About a month ago, the group filed a lawsuit against the Hawaii Department of Health alleging that the rules that allow open air agricultural burning are unconstitutional. It was the first claim to be filed in Hawaii’s new Environmental Court, according to a press release.

The lawsuit, which was filed by the group’s attorney, seeks a preliminary injunction to stop cane burning operations on the basis that the activity is illegal and is putting the public’s health at risk.

Both the director of the Department of Health and Alexander & Baldwin, LLC are named as defendants in the filing.

Sugar cane burn

Smoke from sugar cane burning looms over King Kekaulike High School in Pukalani, Maui.

Courtesy of Maui Tomorrow Foundation

In the last month, Stop Cane Burning said it has raised more than $25,985 through a GoFundMe account.

“This shows that the community is concerned about their health and the health of their keiki (children) and ‘ohana (family),” said plaintiff Trinette Furtado in a press release.

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

Since the late-1800s, sugar cane has been one of the largest agricultural industries on the island. From March to November, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. torches 400 acres of sugar cane on an average of four days a week.

A hearing has been tentatively set for 9:30 a.m. Sept. 16 in the Second Circuit Court on Maui.

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

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