Economy

TMT permit approved by land board

TMT permit approved by land board”

Update, 28 September, 4:40 p.m.: Hawaii's Board of Land and Natural Resources today voted 5-2 to approve a permit to build the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

Protests disrupted a groundbreaking and Hawaiian blessing ceremony in 2014. In 2015, hundreds gathered on Mauna Kea to block TMT construction crews from making their way to the summit, and construction was eventually halted.

Some say fighting the telescope has awakened a new generation of Hawaiian activism, with Kanuha, the protest leader, telling the board that Native Hawaiians "will determine what places are sacred and how they should be protected".

"This was one of the most hard decisions this Board has ever made", said Board and DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. In 2015, the Hawaii Supreme Court voided that decision, saying officials did not follow the proper procedures for a "contested case hearing".

Among TMT's official partners are the California Institute of Technology, the Department of Science and Technology of India, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, National Research Council Canada and the University of California.

Island News was told opponents will go forward with the appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court. Compared with the largest existing visible-light telescope in the world, it would be three times as wide, with nine times more area. They include requiring TMT employees to attend cultural and natural resources training, implementing an invasive species control program on the telescope site, and providing $1 million a year for a "community benefits package", including local science education and workforce development programs.

"I think that's premature to answer right now", said Ishikawa.

Astronomers consider the summit one of the world's best places to view the cosmos, while Native Hawaiians say the project would disturb holy ground crucial to their connection with ancestors and the heavens.

"Some native Hawaiians expressed that Mauna Kea is so sacred that the very idea of a large structure is offensive", reads a portion of the summary.

"We are not anti-science or astronomy", Manguil said of the activists opposing the telescope.

He added, "If you're moving and bulldozing, that is damage". They selected an alternate site in Spain's Canary Islands if the telescope couldn't be built in Hawaii.

"For years, I carried grief and pain ... until I went to the mauna", she said, using the Hawaiian word for mountain.

Measured from its base to its summit, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world at roughly 32,000 feet.

Pisciotta's group has already filed a motion in a state court asking that work on the telescope not be allowed to proceed while the case was on appeal. Native Hawaiians have also been known to bury their umbilical cords on the mountain as a way of connecting themselves back to the sacred land.

"It's extremely frustrating. You really get that sense of that institutionalized racism".

"When indigenous people are no longer a part of their natural environment, or are taken out of that equation, the natural environment suffers".

But for Kanuha and other Native Hawaiians, the fight isn't over.

Controversy surrounding the telescope began several years ago. "We're waiting to see if they issue the stay", she said.



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