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LETTER: The Thirty Meter Telescope

August 1, 2015, 8:19 AM HST
* Updated November 13, 8:53 AM
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The debate over the Thirty Meter Telescope has become extremely divisive for our community. I’ve lost several long time friends because I support this telescope project.  This has spread to the community at large. These ongoing protests segued from protecting Mauna Kea to a debate over the restoration of the Hawaiian Kingdom and questioning the legitimacy of the State of Hawaii. The lack of enforcement by Hawaii County and the State of Hawaii isn’t helping matters. Governor Ige’s administration is the prime culprit for the latter. His administration is afraid taking on the protesters head on and waiting for the courts to do the dirty work for them it seems like.

The Hawaii Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments on August 27th, 2015 for one of these lawsuits. It’s questioning the legality of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s conservation district use permit. In addition, the Hawaii Supreme Court has a pending decision involving the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, which may have legal ramifications for the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The problem with this course of action is two-fold. The TMT has legally binding permits to start construction now. The lack of enforcement on the part of the State of Hawaii shows they’re catering to the whims of the protesters. This has given Hawaii huge black eye on the world stage. Why would anyone want to invest in Hawaii? The State of Hawaii has shown its content with siting on their hands instead of enforcing the law.

This doesn’t bode well for Hawaii’s future. We need to diversify our economy away from unsustainable industries, such as tourism, real estate/construction, and the military. I strongly believe we all need to take a long hard look at what Hawaii’s future should look like. The latter is being completely ignored by the anti-TMT protesters. They’re hell-bent on stopping this telescope project, but haven’t stated any economic alternatives to improve the future of Hawaii.

Aaron Stene, Kailua-Kona

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