East Hawaii News

TMT Opponents Gather as Project Halts

November 18, 2015, 9:14 AM HST
* Updated November 18, 11:33 AM
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A large group of opponents of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project gathered early Wednesday morning for a ceremony on the slopes of Mauna Kea.

The gathering came on a day that was anticipated to result in conflict between TMT crew members and opponents of the project.

Rumors began early this week that a TMT crew would make its way up the mountain on Wednesday.

The rumors followed an announcement by TMT International Observatory Board of Governors Chair Henry Yang, who said in statement just over a week ago that a “small crew of local workers” would ascend the mountain to conduct site preparation activities at some point in November.

TMT and state officials were tight lipped regarding when the work would be conducted.

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On Tuesday, the Hawai’i State Supreme Court issued a temporary stay of TMT’s Conservation District Use Permit through Dec. 2.

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Under the stay, TMT crews are prohibited from conducting construction activities on Mauna Kea as its permit is frozen.

Photo credit: Darde Gamayo.

Photo credit: Darde Gamayo.

Late Tuesday, law enforcement officials preparing for Wednesday’s potential meeting between parties on the mountain were told to stand down in light of the Supreme Court’s emergency stay.

TMT spokesperson Scott Ishikawa issued a statement regarding TMT’s decision to delay vehicle maintenance and site preparation via e-mail Wednesday morning.

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“We respect the Court decision and we will stand down between now and December 2,” said Ishikawa. “The Supreme Court’s decision will give all parties involved in the appeal sufficient time to respond to the motion.”

Ku’uipo Freitas told Big Island Now that the Supreme Court’s ruling was an unexpected surprise but that it came in good timing.

Governor David Ige said earlier in the day that the nature of the work was not construction, but rather maintenance and equipment repair.

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