East Hawaii News

Governor Ige Remains Committed to TMT

January 25, 2016, 7:27 PM HST
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An artist's rendering of TMT with its vents open. TMT photo.

An artist’s rendering of TMT with its vents open. TMT photo.

Governor David Ige reconfirmed his stance on the currently stalled Thirty Meter Telescope project during his State of the State address on Monday morning.

The Hawai’i governor compared the project to  the failure of the SuperFerry, noting the state’s failure to justly following the rules.

“Its failure [the SuperFerry] has been attributed to environmental objections and a hostile court.  But that is not exactly what happened,” Governor Ige said.  “The fact is the state failed to follow the law.  When we tried a legal end run, it also failed.  The point is the state should have followed the law and done the right thing in the first place.”

Governor Ige noted that when he visited Mauna Kea in April 2015, he felt that something wasn’t right, and that it was clear that despite his belief that the telescope needs to be built, that things had gone wrong along the way.

TMT was delayed for months beginning in April 2015 as opponents of the project blocked the Mauna Kea Access Road. Dozens of arrests took place over the course of several attempts to ascend the mountain, but ultimately, and after several months, the Hawai’i Supreme Court invalidated the telescope builder’s construction permit.

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“In its recent ruling, the Supreme Court did not say don’t do this project,” Governor Ige said. “What it did say was that the state didn’t do the right things in the approval process.  It told us we needed to do a better job of listening to people and giving them a real opportunity to be heard.

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“I am committed to pursuing this project and I hope its sponsors will stay with us.  And this time, we will listen carefully to all, reflect seriously on what we have heard and, whatever we do in the end, we will do it the right way.”

TMT officials issued a statement late Monday afternoon, noting their appreciation for the governor’s continued support:

“We appreciate Governor Ige’s statement that he personally believes TMT needs to be built.

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“The governor noted that he has been ‘listening to a lot of people, their hopes as well as their concerns.’  TMT appreciates this approach.  Since 2008, TMT has listened to the environmental, cultural and economic concerns expressed by the many residents at numerous public meetings.  Its current design and construction and operational plan are the result of our hearing and responding to their concerns.

“TMT is waiting for the Board of Land and Natural Resources to advise all parties to the litigation on the process, procedures and scheduling for a new contested case.  In the meantime, TMT continues to assess our possible next steps.

“Governor Ige also stated that technology and the ‘innovation economy’ are important contributors to Hawai’i’s ability to compete in a global economy, and to higher-paying jobs in Hawaii.  Astronomy and TMT in particular are contributors in providing opportunity and financial support for both of those goals.”

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