VIDEO: Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Issues Order on TMT
By Wendy Osher; Video edited by Marlo Antes
The state Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an order that effectively halts construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea while the court’s final decision on an appeal is under review.
The motion was filed on Monday by appellants involved in the Mauna Kea case who argued that the TMT was being disrespectful by planning equipment maintenance and site preparation despite ongoing review by the court.
The company had issued a notification indicating that a small crew would be conducting the maintenance work. It was later learned via media reports that the efforts were set to resume this Wednesday.
In the petition to the court, the group Mauna Kea Anaina Hou argued that a large number of protectors would undoubtedly respond to the TMT announcement in a potential faceoff on Wednesday, because of what they called a “blatant disregard for the legal process and the major decision that is still pending” before the court.
On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court granted a stay of both the permits and the state Land Board decision that allows construction to begin.
In what has become a routine, demonstrators returned to the mountain to conduct a morning ceremony that included chanting and the blowing of pu. The peaceful presence came in place of what some argue could have been chaos.
A statement from Scott Ishikawa on behalf of the TMT was issued following the order saying, “We respect the Court decision and we will stand down between now and December 2. The Supreme Court’s decision will give all parties involved in the appeal sufficient time to respond to the motion.”
Construction atop Mauna Kea has been at a virtual standstill since April amid protests from opponents who argue that the site is sacred to Native Hawaiians.
Those opposed to the project say construction activity will desecrate the site. Proponents meantime, say they are committed to a vision that integrates science and culture, and say the project will enrich both educational opportunities and the local economy. In August, both sides presented their arguments to justices.
Here on Maui, a similar battle is brewing over the construction of the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope atop Haleakalā.