UPDATE:TMT Permit Approved by Hearing Officer

July 27, 2017, 8:20 AM HST
* Updated July 28, 2:43 PM
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A rendering of the Thirty Meter Telescope. Photo credit: Thirty Meter Telescope

UPDATE: July 27, 2017, 11 a.m.

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim told Big Island Now this morning that his views on the project have not wavered since he was first asked about the project decades ago, stressing that the community and court should “stop the confrontation of who wins and who loses and find other ways to settle our differences.”

He said the place and the project are “too special to be tied up in court” and should be pursued “as a people, not in court.”

He continues to believe that Maunakea can be and should be a world symbol: “a monument for us to be better people, a monument of a quest for knowledge to be better people and to make us better stewards of this land.”

“I still cling to that hope and still believe it can be done,” the mayor said in today’s interview.

In a March Big Island Now interview, Mayor Kim said, “I also believe that it can be a symbol to recognize the wrongs done to the people of the first Nation of Hawaiʻi—the Hawaiians. “I believe it can bring forth the very big mistakes that were made in respect to their culture and their people, and to go forward from that.”

ORIGINAL POST: July 27, 2017, 8:20 a.m.


Four months after the five-month contested case hearing process ended, former Circuit Court Judge Riki May Amano recommended that the Thirty Meter Telescope project be allowed to proceed atop Maunakea on the Big Island. Four months after the five-month contested case hearing process ended, former Circuit Court Judge Riki May Amano recommended that the Thirty Meter Telescope project be allowed to proceed atop Maunakea on the Big Island.


Judge Amano assessed hundreds of exhibits and hours of testimony during the contested case hearing regarding the Conservation District Use Application for the Thirty Meter Telescope at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, Ka‘ohe Mauka, Hamakua, Hawai‘i.

“TMT welcomes the recommendation that a state permit be issued and we respectfully look forward to the next steps,” said TMT Executive Director Ed Stone, following Judge Amano’s recommendation that the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approve a CDU permit for TMT construction.

“We appreciate that Judge Riki Amano worked carefully and tirelessly to ensure all voices were heard during the contested case hearing,” Stone said in an emailed press release. “We are grateful to all our supporters and friends who have been with us during the hearing process and over the past 10 years and we remain respectful of the process to ensure the proper stewardship of Maunakea.”


However, opponents of the project expressed disappointment, claiming the retired judge was not thorough and made the decision too quickly.

Judge Amano’s order includes 31 conditions, including requirements for “substantial rent” and $1 million a year for STEM education in the community.

The DLNR said its board is currently reviewing Judge Amano’s order and will set deadlines for filing exceptions to the decision and a date for oral arguments before the board makes its final written decision and order.

In Gov. David Ige’s statement, he thanked Amano for her work and said his office is reviewing the conditions included in her decision.

“I want to thank hearing officer and former Judge Riki May Amano for her diligent work in making a recommendation to the Board of Land and Natural Resources regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project at Mauna Kea,” Gov. David Ige said. “We are in the process of reviewing the conditions included in the decision. Regardless of the BLNR’s ultimate decision, I support the co-existence of astronomy and culture on Mauna Kea along with better management of the mountain.”

TMT officials have tentative plans to re-start construction in April 2108.

The judge’s complete Proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Decision and Order can be downloaded HERE.

Judge Amano’s proposed Decision and Order is included below:


Based on the foregoing findings of fact and conclusions of law, the CDUA and the TMT Management Plan is recommended for approval. A CDUP should be issued by the BLNR, subject to the following conditions:

(1) UH Hilo shall comply with all applicable statutes, ordinances, rules, regulations, and conditions of the Federal, State, and County governments, and applicable parts of the HAR § 13-5 et seq.;

(2) UH Hilo shall obtain appropriate authorization from the Department for the occupancy of state lands, if applicable;

(3) UH Hilo shall comply with all applicable Department of Health administrative rules;

(4) Any work done or construction to be done on the land shall be initiated within two (2) years of the approval of such use, in accordance with construction plans that have been signed by the Chairperson, and, unless otherwise authorized, shall be completed within twelve (12) years of the approval. The UH Hilo shall notify the Department in writing when construction activity is initiated and when it is completed;

(5) Before proceeding with any work authorized by the Board, UH Hilo shall submit four copies of the construction and grading plans and specifications to the Chairperson or his authorized representative for approval for consistency with the conditions of the permit and the declarations set forth in the permit application. Three of the copies will be returned to UH Hilo. Plan approval by the Chairperson does not constitute approval required from other agencies;

(6) All representations relative to mitigation set forth in the Environmental Impact Statement and Conservation District Use Application are incorporated and adopted as conditions of the permit;

(7) All mitigation measures and management actions contained in the Historic Preservation Mitigation Plan, Construction Plan, Historical & Archaeological Site Plan, Maintenance Plan, and Arthropod Monitoring Plan, are incorporated as conditions of this permit;

(8) The TMT Project will comply with any terms and conditions outlined in the Comprehensive Management Plan and associated sub-plans; and

(9) The TMT Management Plan is approved, including all specific management actions articulated in the TMT Management Plan including, Cultural Resources Management, Natural Resources Management, Education & Outreach, Astronomical Resources, Permitting and Enforcement, Infrastructure and Maintenance, Construction Guidelines, Site Recycling, Decommissioning, Demolition & Restoration, Future Land Uses, and Monitoring, Evaluation & Updates. These management actions and their associated mitigation measures are incorporated as conditions of this permit.

The following additional conditions shall be implemented by UHH, OMKM and TIO:

(1) Ensuring that employees attend mandatory cultural and natural resources training;

(2) Working with the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and OMKM to develop informational exhibits for visitors regarding the natural, cultural and archaeological resources of Mauna Kea;

(3) Funding the re-naturalization of the closed access road on Pu‘u Poli‘ahu, partial re-naturalization of the batch plant staging area after construction has been completed, and camouflaging of the utility pull boxes in certain locations to reduce the visual impact from the summit area;

(4) Implementing an invasive species control program;

(5) Working with OMKM to develop and implement a wēkiu bug habitat restoration study;

(6) Implementing the “Zero Waste Management” policy;

(7) Filling employment opportunities locally to the greatest extent possible;

(8) Mandating that employees traveling beyond Hale Pōhaku take part in a ride-sharing program using project vehicles;

(9) Using energy savings devices such as solar hot water systems, photovoltaic power systems, energy efficient light fixtures, and Energy Star rated appliances;

(10) Providing $1 million annually, adjusted for inflation, for “Community Benefits Package” which will commence with construction and continue through the term of the sublease. The package will be administered via The Hawai‘i Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund Board of Advisors;

(11) Partnering with other institutions to implement a Workforce Pipeline Program, headed by at least one full-time position through the Community Outreach office, to prepare local residents for jobs in science, engineering, and technical fields;

(12) The University will ensure that the survey of the power line corridor easement complies with DLNR standards and is in accordance with the conditions contained in the grant of easement (including the Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve) that was approved by the BLNR in August 1985. The University will provide copies of the survey to DOFAW;

(13) OMKM will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and experts who are advising OMKM, including representatives from the DLNR regarding surveys of the wēkiu bug and invertebrates along the utility corridor, including Pu‘u Hau Kea and the pu‘u west of the Parking Area 1;

(14) The construction contractor will be required to minimize the visual changes to land within the utility line right-of-way during utility upgrades. Any disturbance outside of the easement area of the construction corridor will be restored to the extent possible;

(15) UH Hilo will present a plan for handling recreational parking during construction to the OCCL for review and approval, at least one month prior to beginning construction;

(16) Following construction, TMT shall keep their area clean and free of trash or unattended tools and equipment, unless authorized in writing by OMKM and OCCL;

(17) The Archaeological Monitoring Plan will be submitted to the State Historic Preservation Division for review and approval prior to the onset of construction;

(18) TIO will pay a “substantial” amount for sublease rent. The rent would be deposited into the Manna Kea Land Fund, and only used for management of Mauna Kea;

(19) UH Hilo will notify OCCL of the date of the twice-annual inspections of the project site and allow Department staff to attend if available;

(20) UH Hilo will provide OCCL and BLNR a copy of their annual report to OMKM;

(21) UH Hilo will allow BLNR to name a DLNR representative to participate in the CMP five-year management review process;

(22) When provided or required, potable water supply and sanitation facilities shall have the approval of the Department of Health and the county Board of Water Supply;

(23) UH Hilo understands and agrees that this permit does not convey any vested rights or exclusive privilege;

(24) In issuing this permit, the Department and Board have relied on the information and data that UH Hilo has provided in connection with this permit application. If, subsequent to the issuance of this permit, such information and data prove to be false, incomplete or inaccurate, this permit may be modified, suspended or revoked, in whole or in part, and/or the Department may, in addition, institute appropriate legal proceedings;

(25) Where any interference, nuisance, or harm may be caused, or hazard established by the use, UH Hilo shall be required to take the measures to minimize or eliminate the interference, nuisance, harm, or hazard;

(26) Should historic remains such as artifacts, burials or concentration of charcoal be encountered during construction activities, work shall cease immediately in the vicinity of the find, and the find shall be protected from further damage. The contractor shall immediately contact the State Historic Preservation Division (692-8015), which will assess the significance of the find and recommend an appropriate mitigation measure, if necessary; the Applicant will also notify the Office of Hawaiian Affairs at the same time;

(27) During construction, appropriate mitigation measures shall be implemented to minimize impacts to off-site roadways, utilities, and public facilities;

(28) No construction work shall be initiated until the Applicant demonstrates compliance with all pre-construction conditions and mitigation measures outlined in this report. Once this condition has been satisfied, the Department will issue notice to proceed with construction;

(29) TIO shall set aside funds annually in a sufficient amount to allow for site observatory and access way site restoration;

(30) Daytime activities at TMT will be minimized on up to four days per year, as identified by Kahu Kū Mauna; and

(31) Other terms and conditions as may be prescribed by the Chairperson.
Failure to comply with any of these conditions shall render this Conservation District Use Permit null and void.

DATED: Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, July 26, 2017.
Judge Riki May Amano (ret.)
Hearing Officer

TMT Hearing: Minute Order Sets Filing Deadlines
TMT Hearing: Petitioners File Motions
TMT Hearing: Contested Case Hearing Concludes
TMT Hearing: Cultural Impact Assessment ‘Falsified’
TMT Hearing: Native Hawaiian PUEO President Supports TMT Project
TMT Hearing: DLNR Administrator Subpoenaed to Testify
TMT Hearing: Does the Project Meet the Eight Criteria?
TMT Hearing: Can Hawaiian Culture & Science Co-Exist?
TMT Hearing: Petitioners’ Witnesses Take the Stand
TMT Hearing: Last TIO Witnesses Testify
TMT Hearing: Cross-Examinations Continue
TMT Hearing ContinuesTMT Hearing: University of Hawai‘i Rests It’s Case
TMT Hearing: Emotions Continue to Run High
TMT Hearing: Tension High as OMKM Director Testifies
TMT Hearing: UH Calls Archeologist to the Stand
TMT Hearing: Hawaiian Language Ruling Clarified
TMT Hearing: Hawaiian Language Restricted
TMT Hearing: Native Hawaiian Practitioner Testifies
TMT Petitioners File Hawai‘i Supreme Court Appeal
TMT Hearing: Native Hawaiian Navigator Testifies
Judge Puts Time Limit on TMT Cross-Examinations
TMT Hearing: UH-Hilo Witnesses Testify
TMT Contested Case Hearing Gets Underway

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