East Hawaii News

TMT Assessing Future Options for Telescope

February 11, 2016, 2:59 PM HST
* Updated March 22, 3:44 PM
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June 24, 2015 file image by Ronette Obrey.

June 24, 2015 file image by Ronette Obrey.

Thirty Meter Telescope officials want the construction of the controversial $1.8 billion project underway by April 2018.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that TMT Executive Director Ed Stone said the project’s board of directors decided last week that they would identify other sites in case the telescope is unable to be built in Hawai’i.

University of Hawai’i officials released a statement regarding the board’s potential decision to opt for a “Plan B,” noting their continued support for the project.

“The University of Hawaiʻi remains steadfast in our support for locating the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawai‘i.  The project is a tremendous scientific and economic opportunity for Hawaiʻi Island and the state,” the statement read. “It will be a cornerstone of the next generation of astronomy in Hawaiʻi, one of the anchors of our research and innovation enterprise.

“TMT is also providing educational, scholarship and STEM support for Hawai’i Island schools and substantial resources for improved stewardship of Maunakea.  UH was the original permit applicant for the project and will be deeply involved in the upcoming Land Board proceedings, as we have been throughout the process to date.”

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Work on the project was stalled numerous times last year by self-proclaimed “protectors of the mauna,” who believe construction of the $1.8 billion project would be a desecration to the mountain held sacred to the Hawaiian culture.

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The State Supreme Court in December invalidated TMT’s permit to construct on conservation land. Fate of the project must go through a new court hearing.

Comment from TMT officials was not immediately available.

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