I have been visiting the island since 1981 when I assisted in setting up a laser-ranging system on Haleakala. In those 30-plus years I have never experienced (endured is more accurate) more choking pollution than on Nov. 26.
My wife and I were bicycling (as we always do) along South Kihei Road when we were appalled at the sight of cigarette-sized chunks of ash falling all around us. The air was so bad that before we reached Wailea, we were both choking and fighting tears. I am mildly asthmatic and, for me, wheezing also became an issue.
It is a travesty that the state of Hawaii and Maui County actually permit the rampant burning of sugar cane. One can only assume that it will take a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Maui's citizenry to bring an end to this outrage.
For those who decry overregulation by the government, think again and look at how Alexander & Baldwin is able to legally poison an environment once so pristine and so special.