This afternoon, Hawaii Governor David Ige announced at a news conference his “way forward” for the University of Hawaii’s proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island.
“My review found that the TMT project took the appropriate steps and received the approvals needed to move forward,” Ige said on May 26, according to a news release his office sent out on this afternoon. “The project has the right to proceed with construction, and the state will support and enforce its right to do so. We also acknowledge the right to protest this activity. We will protect the right to a peaceful protest and will act to ensure public safety and the right to use our roads for lawful purposes.”
While Ige expressed support for the TMT, he also pointed out where he felt the University of Hawaii had gone wrong.
“The University of Hawaii must do a better job in its stewardship of the mountain,” he said at today’s news conference, according to this Civil Beat article. “From my own personal experience on the mountain, with all the noise and crowding, I could not feel the same feeling that I felt on the summit 20 years ago.”
Ige’s statement on TMT construction also laid out 10 actions he wanted the University of Hawaii to do in regards to the telescope:
1. Accept its responsibility to do a better job in the future.
2. Formally and legally bind itself to the commitment that this is the last area on the mountain where a telescope project will be contemplated or sought.
3. Decommission – beginning this year – as many telescopes as possible with at least 25 percent of all telescopes gone by the time TMT is ready for operation.
4. Restart the EIS process for the university’s lease extension and conduct a full cultural impact assessment as part of that process.
5. Move expeditiously the access rules that significantly limit and put conditions on noncultural access to the mountain.
6. Require training in the cultural aspects of the mountain and how to be respectful to the cultural areas for anyone going on the mountain.
7. Substantially reduce the length of its request for a lease extension from the Board of Land and Natural Resources.
8. Voluntarily return to full DLNR jurisdiction all lands (over 10,000 acres) not specifically needed for astronomy.
9. Ensure full use of its scheduled telescope time.
10. Make a good faith effort to revisit the issue of payments by the existing telescope now as well as requiring it in the new lease.
When construction would resume isn’t known, as the projet has also been challenged in the courts. Ige said he’d abide by the ruling, according to the news release from his office.
You can read the full text of Ige’s comments on the TMT at Governor.hawaii.gov.