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Thursday, September 28, 2017
BLNR Approves Telescope 5-2
By News Release @ 3:09 PM :: 7989 Views :: Environment, Greenmail, Higher Education, OHA


5-2 Majority Adopts Hearing Officer’s Findings

News Release from BLNR, September 28, 2017

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 is attached.

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RESOURCES (video courtesy: Hawai‘i DLNR)

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Statement by UH on Board of Land and Natural Resources decision

From UH News, September 28, 2017

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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News Release from Office of the Governor, Sep 28, 2017

The Board’s decision today is the latest milestone in what has been a complex journey. I believe Hawai‘i can host a new telescope in the right way, with respect for the values, traditions and culture of the first Hawaiians, and that our island state can be Earth’s eyes into the universe to prepare for a brighter future. — Governor David Ige  

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Statement By Representative Tupola on BLNR’s TMT Decision

News Release from Office of Rep Andria Tupola, September 28, 2017

HONOLULU, HAWAIʻI –  Representative Andria Tupola (R-43 - ʻEwa Villages, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Nanakai Gardens, Ko Olina, Kahe Point, Nānākuli, Lualualei, Māʻili) issued the following statement on BLNR’s TMT decision:

“I oppose the BLNR’s approval of the Conservation District Use Permit to build TMT. In short, UH has not fulfilled its duty to adopt administrative rules in order to ‘protect Mauna Kea’s cultural, natural and scientific resources and ensure public health and safety on the mountain,’ as written in the State Auditor’s 2014 Follow-Up Audit of the Management of Mauna Kea and the Mauna Kea Science Reserve.

“The University of Hawaii was given the authority to adopt administrative rules in 2009. Eight years later, such rules have still not been established and, per the 2017 Auditor’s Report, an estimated time of its completion cannot be determined.

“Further, without the authority to protect the land on Mauna Kea, the Department will be unable to follow its own administrative rules that evaluate the merits of the proposal. In §13-5-30, criteria number six states that ‘[t]he existing physical and environmental aspects of the land, such as natural beauty and open space characteristics, will be preserved or improved upon, whichever is applicable.’ It is evident that UH will be unable to do so until its administrative rules are adopted.

“I would urge the BLNR to reconsider its decision. Allowing a state organization to go forward with such a controversial project without any sort of authority to protect the land it governs sets a dangerous precedent for any project moving forward.”

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KAHEA’s statement about the Land Board’s approval of the TMT permit

From KAHEA, September 28, 2017

Mauna Kea is the anchor for kānaka maoli, it is our collective mana, which is being stripped and disrespected. Our deities exist in the rain and mist and dew and snow. The elemental nature of the Mauna reaffirms from where we come and where we now stand.

This is not the first time that the state Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) has failed to enforce constitutional and legal protections for conservation district lands, native Hawaiian cultural practices and the environmental resources upon which those practices depend. Since at least 2009, a hui of Hawaiian cultural practitioners and environmental justice advocates have worked tirelessly to bring attention to these issues and to be voices of reason against unfettered development of our sacred sites. In 2015, the Hawai`i Supreme Court invalidated BLNR’s approval of the TMT permit. BLNR has missed another opportunity to do the right thing and KAHEA and other community petitioners are faced with the burden of fixing those failures, yet again.

The next step will be the court appeal. Both the Hearing Officer and the BLNR have committed some of the same procedural violations that the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court cautioned against. Both those for and against the TMT earlier sought to disqualify the Hearing Officer, and similarly, objected to participation by board members with conflicts of interest. We emphasize also that the TMT International Observatory Corporation does not have a sublease for its use of Mauna Kea lands. Construction should not begin before all legal processes have run their course. We've been here before and we are committed to seeing this process through.


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