Published : Saturday, September 30, 2017 | 7:37 PM
Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources has approved a Conservation District Use Permit to allow construction of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea Mountain on Hawaii Island last week. The project is headquartered in Pasadena.
The Board voted 5-2 in favor of granting the permit following almost five months of hearings that started back in October 2016. After the hearings terminated in March, contested case Hearings Officer and former Judge Riki May Amano released a 305-page report recommending issuance of the permit.
Since March, groups opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope project have held at least two large protests in Pasadena, coinciding with protests in Hawaii.
Henry Yang, Chairman of the Pasadena-based Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory Board, thanked the Hawaii Land and Natural Resources Board and other officials involved in the process that started after the Hawaii Supreme Court invalidated the Telescope’s first construction permit in December 2015.
“We thank all community members who contributed their thoughtful views during the hearing process and we are deeply grateful to our many friends and supporters for standing with us over the years,” Yang said. “Following this approval, TIO will continue to respect state procedures and to comply fully with applicable legislation and regulation. In moving forward, we will listen respectfully to the community in order to realize the shared vision of Mauna Kea as a world center for Hawaiian culture, education, and science.”
The Board said the Thirty Meter Telescope “will not pollute groundwater, will not damage any historic sites, will not harm rare plants or animals, will not release toxic materials, and will not otherwise harm the environment.” The Board added the project will not significantly change the appearance of the summit of Mauna Kea from populated areas on Hawaii Island.
The project, estimated to cost about $1.4 billion, is the result of partnerships among Caltech in Pasadena, India’s Department of Science and Technology, China’s National Astronomical Observatories, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Canada’s National Research Council and the University of California.
Once completed, the Thirty Meter Telescope would to provide vivid and cutting-edge images of everything from exo-planets to distant galaxies.
When construction started in 2014, Native Hawaiians and other opponents of the project blocked the road to the project site and filed a case with Hawaii’s court system in an effort to stop construction.
Thirty Meter Telescope officials have earlier stated they were looking for alternative sites for the giant telescope, just in case the Hawaii board and the Hawaii Supreme Court decide against the project.
They hope to be able to restart construction by April, 2018.