BLNR approves Thirty-Meter Telescope permit to build

MEDIA RELEASE

Illustration of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Illustration of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

HONOLULU – Recognizing its responsibility to strike a balance between native Hawaiian traditional and cultural practices and other stakeholders in the state, a 5-2 majority of the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources (the Board) adopted today the recommendation of retired judge Riki May Amano to approve the application for a Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) to build the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT).

Board and DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “This was one of the most difficult decisions this Board has ever made. The members greatly respected and considered the concerns raised by those opposed to the construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve.”

Supporters of the project testified during a contested case hearing and in oral arguments that Hawaiian culture and modern science can co-exist on the mountain. Construction of the TMT is expected to provide jobs for more than 100 people and at completion, permanent jobs for as many as 140 workers on the island of Hawai‘i. The consortium of research universities behind the TMT have provided $2.5 million for scholarships, classroom projects, and STEM grants every year since 2014. Under the CDUP, builders of the TMT must provide an additional one million dollars each year for college scholarships for native Hawaiians and other educational initiatives on Hawai‘i Island.

The Board adopted 43 conditions to the permit including Governor David Ige’s previously detailed “path forward” 10-point plan requiring the University of Hawai’i to decommission three existing telescopes, any future development to occur on existing sites, and the TMT site to be the last new site on Mauna Kea. Additional conditions include:

  • Design choices to mitigate visual and aesthetic effects
  • Waste minimization plan for hazardous & solid waste, including a zero discharge wastewater system
  • Cultural and natural resources training for workers
  • No impact to water resources under the public trust doctrine, Lake Waiau hydrology & water resources considerations
  • Educational exhibits, specific community outreach efforts and cultural observation days
  • Invasive species prevention and control
  • Continued public access and continuing consultations with cultural practitioners
  • Arthropod monitoring and Wekiu bug habitat restoration study

A copy of the preface to the Board’s Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision and Order can be seen here (PDF).

Statement by the University of Hawaiʻi on the Board of Land and Natural Resources decision to approve the application for a permit to build the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Maunakea.

“The University of Hawaiʻi thanks the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the hearing officer for all of their diligence and hard work on this second contested case. The university first applied for this permit seven years ago, and we believe this decision and the underlying vote represent a fitting and fair reflection of an issue that has divided many in the community who care deeply about Maunakea.

Maunakea is precious to all of Hawaiʻi, and we know that science and culture can synergistically coexist there, now and into the future. We have a solid foundation to build on with the plans that have been developed and the work that has been done thanks to the dedication of the Office of Maunakea Management and the volunteer community members who have served on the Mauanakea Management Board and the Kahu Kū Mauna council over the past 17 years.

We know we have more to do, and we stand firmly committed to collaboratively build a global model of harmonious and inspirational stewardship that is befitting of the amazing cultural, natural, educational and scientific traditions and resources of Maunakea.”

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