Cane Burning Opponents and HC&S “Agree to Disagree”

September 26, 2012, 3:13 PM HST · Updated September 26, 5:15 PM
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Event organizer, Karen Chun in front of the HC&S mill in Pu’unene where she delivered a petition seeking to end cane burning on Maui. Photo courtesy Jackie Peterson.

By Wendy Osher

A day after delivering a petition to the state Department of Health, a group opposed to cane burning on Maui delivered a second petition, this time to officials at the Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company.

“Stop Cane Burning” organizer Karen Chun issued a press statement this afternoon saying she had met with HC&S General Manager Rick Volner Jr. today, during which she asked the company to switch to no-burn harvesting.

Chun called the encounter a “cordial meeting” saying the two sides “agreed to disagree” on cane burning. She said the focus instead was on what could be done together in moving to harvest methods and crops that would end burning.

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“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,” said Chun.

Backers of HC&S have argued in support of the hundreds of jobs the company provides that keep residents employed, and the thousands of acres that keep Maui in cultivation.

Chun, however, continued to express concerns over health issues such as asthma.

“We were disappointed that plans were not farther along to replace cane burning with biofuels or another technology, so we have to count on the Department of Health to start actually protecting our health and deny any further cane burning permits,” said Chun.

An email request for comment from company officials has since been released and is now available at the following direct LINK.

Chun said that the parties agreed that “threats” did more harm than good to both sides, and vowed to ensure the controversy stayed “civil and nonviolent.”

More meetings may be scheduled between Stop Cane Burning and HC&S, according to group organizers.

The same group has also planned a sign waving demonstration on Saturday, September 29 to spread the same message. The event will run from 10 to 11 a.m. at the corner of Mokulele and Dairy Road in Kahului.

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