Friday, April 15, 2016

A&B = Corporate PIG

The people of Hawai'i are troubled by water problems. Many areas are dry and in constant fire alert status, large segments of Maui are brown and suffer from desertification.

Some problem is sugar industry diversion of water to their extensive private plantations. Biggest user Alexander & Baldwin (A&B d.b.a. Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. and East Maui Irrigation Co.), has enjoyed favored access to public water supplies for over a century. Protected by political connections, and using their leverage on Maui as supplier of agricultural work for hundreds of people, they've diverted streams and tapped into aquifers. They reportedly (link) divert 160 million gallons of water from 100 streams every day.

This same local power allows them open burning of cane fields, a process that fills the air with smoke, ash, and unknown carcinogenic substances (pesticide residues & miles of plastic pvc pipe and black polyethylene are burned with the cane). Subsequent dust is a further problem - blowing offshore and fouling Hawaiian reefs. Their sloppy land stewardship led to generations of complaints, many claimed local health problems, and continuing scars on the beautiful Maui landscape & offshore.

Now A&B are cutting back. They'll soon stop growing sugar cane. But they still demand continuing priority supplies of fresh Maui water.

Hawai'i's State Legislature should no longer give this billion-dollar-plus corporation open-ended authority to divert an unlimited supply of needed public water for their private operations. 

mauitime magazine cover, 27 Sept 2012