Hawaii Supreme Court Affirms TMT Permit
From TMT.org, October 30th, 2018
The Hawaii Supreme Court, by majority decision, today issued its opinion affirming the Board of Land and Natural Resources' decision to issue a Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) for construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Maunakea.
Henry Yang, Chair, TMT International Observatory Board of Governors, issued the following statement in response to the news:
"On behalf of the TMT International Observatory, we are grateful for the Hawaii State Supreme Court's ruling that will allow TMT to be built on Maunakea. We thank all of the community members who contributed their thoughtful views during this entire process. We remain committed to being good stewards on the mountain and inclusive of the Hawaiian community. We honor the culture of the islands and its people and do our part to contribute to its future through our ongoing support of education and Hawaii Islands’ young people. We are excited to move forward in Hawaii and will continue to respect and follow state and county regulations, as we determine our next steps. We are deeply grateful to our many friends and supporters for their tremendous support over the years.”
Work on the telescope on Maunakea was halted in 2015 when the Hawaii Supreme Court invalidated the Conservation District Use Permit on procedural grounds. That permit had been issued by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) to the University of Hawaii Hilo to build TMT on Maunakea. The Supreme Court returned the case to the Hawaii Circuit Court and instructed that a new contested case hearing be conducted. The contested case got underway in October 2016.
Following 44 days of testimony by 71 witnesses over five months, the hearing concluded in early March 2017, and hearings officer Riki May Amano in July 2017 recommended that a state Conservation District Use Permit be re-issued to allow construction of the project on Maunakea. On Thursday, September 28, the State Land Board announced its decision to approve the Conservation District Use Permit to build TMT on Maunakea. Opponents challenged the new permit before the Hawaii State Supreme Court. Today’s ruling affirms BLNR’s decision to issue the CDUP.
In the majority opinion the Court noted:
“In this opinion, we address whether the BLNR properly applied the law in analyzing whether a permit should be issued for the TMT. Upon careful consideration of the written submissions, the applicable law, and the oral arguments, and for the reasons explained below, we now affirm the BLNR’s decision authorizing issuance of a Conservation District Use Permit (“CDUP”) for the Thirty Meter Telescope (“TMT”).”
As for next steps, TMT will move forward with fulfilling the numerous conditions and requirements of the state CDUP prior to the start of any construction.
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Telescope: Wilson Dissent Published, Protesters Given 10 More Days to File
UPDATE Nov 9, 2018
HNN: …The lone Supreme Court Justice opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope issued his dissent Friday, accusing the court of opening the door to more deterioration of Hawaii’s natural and cultural resources.
Justice Michael Wilson, a former chairman of the state Land Board, took issue with the majority’s finding that because prior telescopes had already substantially impacted the summit, the addition of TMT was not a “substantial and adverse impact” that would have violated conservation law.
Wilson said that essentially means Mauna Kea is no longer protected by the conservation law….
“Under this new principle of natural resource law,” Wilson wrote, “one of the most sacred resources of the Hawaiian culture loses its protection because it has previously undergone substantial adverse impact from prior development of telescopes.”
Wilson argued that the TMT project “eclipses all other telescopes in magnitude” and should not have been granted a permit.
Opponents have asked for more time to seek reconsideration of the Court’s 4-1 decision that upheld the permit, because they were waiting for Wilson to public his dissent….
read … State Supreme Court’s lone voice of dissent on TMT accuses colleagues of weakening state conservation laws
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From KAHEA, the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance – one of the participants in the contested case hearing:
We are disappointed by the state Supreme Court’s majority decision to affirm the Land Board’s approval of the University of Hawaii’s permit to allow the Thirty-Meter Telescope corporation’s project in a pristine area of Mauna Kea. The opinion wrongly relies on representations that there is “no evidence” of Hawaiian cultural practices on the specific acreage proposed for the TMT. Thousands of Hawaiian cultural practitioners have affirmed the sacredness of the entirety of Mauna Kea. Thousands more have supported the protection of Mauna Kea from the TMT project. The Court’s opinion has done nothing to change this. We call on the University, Governor Ige, and TMT officers to put the well being of the people of Hawai`i first and to relocate their project away from Mauna Kea.
From the Office of Hawaiian Affairs:
Despite four state audits and generations of Native Hawaiians expressing concern about the threats to Maunakea, the state and the University of Hawaiʻi have continuously neglected their legal duties to adequately manage the mountain. Instead, they have consistently prioritized astronomical development at the expense of properly caring for Maunakea’s natural and cultural resources.
The Supreme Court’s ruling today demonstrates an urgent need for the state to create mechanisms to ensure that constitutionally protected traditional and customary practices and cultural resources are not sacrificed or abridged.
In November 2017, OHA sued to hold the state and UH accountable for its longstanding and well-documented mismanagement of Maunakea. For years, OHA held good faith discussions with the state to stop the state’s failed stewardship. Despite OHA’s best efforts, these discussions broke down several weeks ago. As a result, OHA is moving forward with its lawsuit.
After 50 years of empty promises to the mauna and our community, the state needs to be held accountable. Maunakea deserves better.
Nature: The battle over how Mauna Kea is used may soon shift from the TMT to the University of Hawaii's master lease
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STATE LEADERS APPLAUD SUPREME COURT DECISION ON THIRTY METER TELESCOPE WW
News Release from Office of the Governor, Oct 30, 2018
HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige and leaders of the University of Hawai‘i (UH), the Dept. of the Attorney General (AG) and the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) thanked the Hawai‘i Supreme Court for its thorough review of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea, and the decision that was handed down today.
“The high court reviewed thousands of pages of documents and testimony over many years, so it’s difficult to imagine the monumental task the justices had in reaching this decision,” said Gov. Ige. “We’re pleased the court carefully considered and weighed all the varied and passionate testimony about TMT. We believe this decision is fair and right and will continue to keep Hawai‘i at the forefront of astronomy.”
“The University of Hawaiʻi is pleased with the state Supreme Court’s decision to approve the conservation district use permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project,” said University of Hawai‘i President David Lassner. “We will ensure that this project is accomplished appropriately and with deepest respect for the awesomeness of Maunakea. TMT will not only represent a major advance in humankind’s knowledge of the universe, it will have tremendously positive educational and economic impacts for the people of Hawaiʻi Island and the entire state. UH stands fully committed to collaborative stewardship that demonstrates Maunakea as an inspiring and harmonious global model for culture, education, the environment and groundbreaking scientific discovery.”
“We are gratified that the Supreme Court affirmed the Board of Land and Natural Resources’ decision on the Thirty Meter Telescope conservation district use permit,” said DNLR Chair Suzanne Case. “This has been a very long process, and I want to thank Judge Amano and the Land Board members for their careful diligence in ensuring all voices were heard and considered, the law was applied correctly, and the process was followed fairly. DLNR, as the landowners and conservation district regulators on Mauna Kea, will continue to work closely with UH on next steps to move this project forward.”
“The TMT case has wound its way through a drawn out legal process for many years and it’s good to see it come to a successful resolution. The state has a responsibility to follow and apply the appropriate laws and the justices clearly agreed that this is precisely what happened in this case,” said Attorney General Russell Suzuki.
TMT must now submit construction plans to the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands for review and approval. The decision also requires the state to follow the Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan which includes attention to cultural protocols and training.
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PDF: Hawaii Supreme Court Opinion on TMT
SA: Hawaii Supreme Court rules in favor of building Thirty Meter Telescope
NYT: Hawaii Supreme Court Approves Giant Telescope on Mauna Kea
AP: Legal actions possible after telescope ruling
AP: Hawaii Supreme Court upholds permit for giant telescope
1PM: Ige News Conference