TMT permit approved by land board

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Posted: Sep 28, 2017 10:25 AM HST
Updated: Sep 28, 2017 6:19 PM HST
By Brenton Awa

A major decision on the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope, the State Land Board says "build it".

TMT has its permit to build a-top Mauna Kea but it's not that simple.

That permit is one of the final obstacles the project needed to get by.

However, that doesn't mean construction on Mauna Kea will be restart anytime soon.

TMT opponents have thirty days to appeal the State Land Board's decision.

Island News was told opponents will go forward with the appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court. We also asked if there's a potential for more protests on the mountain.

"I think BLNR is setting up a situation where that might be possible," Kealoha Pisciotta, a TMT opponent said.

Pisciotta says TMT opponents should stay calm, for now.

"Until the court says it's a good decision or a bad decision, no one should be moving anything," Pisciotta said.

Meanwhile, a TMT spokesperson told Island News the company is pleased with the BLNR's decision but couldn't say if or when construction on Mauna Kea would resume.

"I think we're going to go back and look at our next steps first. I think it's kind of premature at this point to say whether we're going to move forward at this point," Scott Ishikawa, TMT Spokesperson said.

It took seven years for the University of Hawaii to get this permit and released the following statement:

The University of Hawaii 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 Hawaii, 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 Ku 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.
The BLNR chairperson, governor and attorney general also weighed in.

"This was one of the most difficult decisions the board has ever made," Suzanne Case, the BLNR Chairperson said.

"I feel like the process was fair, it was conducted in the open, I'm proud of the board conducting it in such a way and look forward to the next steps," Gov. Ige said.

"It seems like what you can see in the 343 pages is a lot of balance," Doug Chin, the state attorney general said.

The seven member board voted 5-to-2 in favor of approving the permit.

Their votes and reasoning can be found on the DLNR's website starting on page 271 of the 343 page document the Attorney General referred to.