Construction is about to resume on Mauna Kea. TMT partners announced they plan to resume building the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope starting Wednesday.
Michael Bolte is a TMT board member and an astronomy professor at UC Santa Cruz. He says Governor Ige's recent support of the project and his management plan for the mountain prompted the decision to restart construction. "We felt it was a nice vindication of our approach," said Bolte. "We're ready to get started again."
Construction of the $1.4 billion telescope has been on hold since April 2, when dozens of protesters were arrested for blocking vehicles from reaching the construction site. Longtime Hawai‘i Island telescope opponent Paul Neves says he expects the protests will continue and likely grow by Wednesday. "We're not walking away," said Neves. "I can't see us not taking care of the land and exercising our rights to protect it."
The announcement comes on the heels of the state Supreme Court’s decision to hear oral arguments on a case challenging the telescope’s permit.
Read the full statement from Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board:
“After more than two months of consultation, education, and dialogue with many stakeholders, we humbly announce that the TMT International Observatory Board has decided to move ahead to restart the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the morning of Wednesday, June 24. Our period of inactivity has made us a better organization in the long run. We are now comfortable that we can be better stewards and better neighbors during our temporary and limited use of this precious land, which will allow us to explore the heavens and broaden the boundaries of science in the interest of humanity.
“We look forward to a positive relationship with all Hawaiians, while we understand that the majority of Hawaii’s people are supporting the TMT project. We deeply respect and are mindful of those who have concerns, and yet, we hope they will permit us to proceed with this important task while reserving their right to peaceful protest.
“As done at any construction site, we plan to first investigate and assess any possible oil leakage and ensure we can provide proper maintenance of machines and equipment so they operate safely and correctly – in order to protect Maunakea and preserve the sensitive environment. We will then begin to repair and install fencing in the interest of public safety.
“As we proceed, TMT is open and willing to allow cultural practitioners in the area of the construction site to continue customary and traditional practices. Allowing this practice to continue to occur will require further dialogue and mutual agreement to work out the details in order to establish a cooperative and harmonious environment for all parties.
“In an effort to be sensitive to and observant of the Native Hawaiian host culture, we will deepen our knowledge of the cultural, ecological, and spiritual aspects of the mountain and continue to learn how to better respect and appreciate Maunakea’s important cultural areas.
“On behalf of TMT, I want to express our sincere appreciation to the people in Hawaii for their understanding and support.”