East Hawaii News

UPDATE: Gov. Ige Orders One-Week TMT Halt

April 7, 2015, 2:56 PM HST
* Updated April 7, 8:54 PM
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***Updated at 8:50 p.m. to include a statement from the Mauna Kea Protectors in response to Governor David Ige’s announcement of a one-week halt in Thirty Meter Telescope construction.***

On Tuesday evening the Mauna Kea Protectors responded to Governor David Ige’s one-week halt on the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope planned to be constructed on Mauna Kea.

The statement reads:

“We applaud Governor Ige for stepping forward to take some kind of action in this crisis.

“His call for a one-week halt to TMT’s construction is a victory for the Mauna Kea Protectors, clear evidence that he recognizes the worldwide groundswell of public support we have for halting further desecration of our sacred mountain. Mahalo, Governor Ige.

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“However, it is not enough to pause for a week. We need a commitment from the Governor or TMT to stop the desecration until our legal appeals can work their way through the courts to the State Supreme Court.

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“We’re grateful for the Governor’s action, but this welcome pause does not mean we’re standing down from our vigil of protection, during which so many people have had an opportunity to experience first-hand and from afar the deepest meanings of aloha and the power of peaceful expressions of protest against injustice and environmental disregard.

“Many Hawaiians participating in the Merrie Monarch Festival are coming up the mountain with pain in their hearts, so our continued presence for them is essential.

“Until there is a commitment from TMT and its international partners to stop their desecration of Mauna Kea, we will stand strong on the mountain to defend it. We are discouraged by the Canadian Prime Minister’s action yesterday to commit his nation’s funds to this lawless project and the desecration of our sacred mountain, and only days after Native Hawaiians were arrested for protecting their mountain. Shame on him!

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“We also continue to hold our vigil for our brothers and sisters who were arrested last week and who face criminal prosecution unless the Governor or the County Prosecutor drop these unjust and legally dubious charges.

“Our Deepest Aloha and Mahalo again go out to all the people across the planet who have expressed their support for our mountain and our cause!”

*** Original story posted at 2:56 p.m. ***

Governor David Ige announced Tuesday that he is calling for a one week halt in the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The official statement was not readily available as of press time, but Gov. Ige’s press secretary, Jodi Leong, confirmed to Big Island Now Tuesday afternoon that the Governor had announced a week-long pause and an official statement was forthcoming.

In response to word of the governor’s announcement, TMT Project Manager Gary Sanders released the following statement:

“After a seven-year public process that included contested proceedings, the Board of Land and Natural Resources granted us the permit to build the Thirty Meter Telescope in the Maunakea Science Reserve’s Astronomy Precinct nearly two years ago.

“There has been an ongoing dialog and meaningful discussion about the TMT project since 2008, when the Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice was first filed and publicly noticed.  This dialog and discussion is well documented in the project’s environmental impact statement, the application for the conservation district use permit, the contested proceedings themselves, and the decisions granting and affirming the permit issuance.

“Following an appeal of the permit and further contested case proceedings, the TMT project has proceeded in full compliance with the law.

“The TMT site was selected with great care and respect. There are no archaeological shrines or burial sites within TMT’s project site. Comprehensive research by expert hydrologists confirm there is no threat to the aquifer.

“TMT agrees with Governor Ige’s request for a timeout this week and an ongoing dialogue on issues.”

No formal statement has been released from the Mauna Kea Ohana in regards to Gov. Ige’s request.

As part of a statement released earlier Tuesday morning by the Mauna Kea Ohana, Kahoʻokahi Kanuha, one of the protesters who was arrested on Thursday, said, “We canʻt thank everyone enough. The amount of support we have received over the past week is absolutely unbelievable and simply amazing. I am not quite sure our people have seen a movement like this in their lifetime and I think itʻs a testament to the fact that our people have been ignited and are ready to move forward and resolidify ourselves throughout the world as a people and a country.”

In the midst of all the conflict, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Monday that the Canadian Astronomical Society will be providing $243 million in funds for the Thirty Meter Telescope project to become part of the international partnership.

“The TMT is the top priority in Canada’s Long Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics, our roadmap to continued international leadership in this field. Canada’s astronomers will point to today’s announcement for decades to come as a critical moment in furthering our excellence in the field,” said Christine Wilson, President of CASCA and Co-Chair of the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy.

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