Maui Business

TMT Files for Permit at La Palma, Maunakea Remains “Preferred” Site

August 5, 2019, 1:04 PM HST
* Updated August 6, 12:29 PM
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A building permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope has been filed at an alternate site in the Canary Islands, but project executives say Maunakea remains their “preferred” site.

TMT executive director Ed Stone issued a statement this morning saying, “We continue to follow the process to allow for TMT to be constructed at the ‘plan B’ site in La Palma should it not be possible to build in Hawaiʻi. This process has been ongoing since 2016. Maunakea remains the preferred site for TMT.”

The news comes as a demonstration enters week four at the base of Maunakea Access Road where groups identifying themselves as protectors say they believe construction would result in further desecration of a mountain they consider to be sacred.

The demonstration started as plans were announced that construction would begin in mid-July.  State officials say a total of 38 individuals were arrested “after refusing to comply with a lawful order to clear the road,” on Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

Crowds at the site grew from hundreds in the initial days to thousands during the initial weekend. The site has also served as a cultural and spiritual gathering place for supporters of the movement.

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Leaders at the site spoke with media last week, expressing a desire for the TMT to go to their “Plan B” and build the project in the Canary Islands instead.

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Backers of the telescope meantime, say they believe in the co-existence of culture and science atop the mountain.  Governor David Ige last week said, “We continue to seek and find a peaceful solution to move this project forward.”

Last week Tuesday, the governor rescinded an emergency proclamation at Maunakea and the state issued a two-year extension to Sept. 26, 2021 on the deadline to initiate construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope project atop the mountain.  He also handed off leadership to Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim to “peacefully attempt to reach common ground with the protectors of Maunakea and the broader community.”

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