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UPDATE: Notice to Proceed Granted for Thirty Meter Telescope

June 20, 2019, 8:50 AM HST
* Updated June 21, 8:44 AM
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https://www.facebook.com/GovernorDavidIge/videos/1039976716188587/?t=101

At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 20, 2019, Gov. David Ige, Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case, Attorney General Clare Connors and University of Hawai‘i President David Lassner issued an announcement on state permitting regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea on Hawai‘i Island.

The announcement came from the Hawai‘i State Capitol and was streamed live through Facebook Live.

Gov. Ige announced that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources issued a notice to proceed to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo for the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project on Maunakea on Hawaiʻi Island.

The permit was issued after DLNR confirmed the completion of the pre-construction conditions and mitigation measures required of the project in the Conservation District Use Permit.

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The notice to proceed is a formal communication indicating that all pre-construction conditions and mitigation measures specifically required as a condition of the Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) have been met. With the NTP, TMT can proceed with construction.

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The appropriate agencies will work with the TMT representatives to determine the start date.

The next generation telescope will be constructed on UH-managed lands located in the conservation district regulated by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR). The university granted TMT a sublease and the BLNR issued a CDUP to construct and operate the telescope. The CDUP was upheld by the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court in an October 2018 ruling.

So that construction of the telescope can begin safely, four unauthorized structures were removed from Mauna Kea earlier this morning by multiple state agencies. The structures were on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property on Maunakea Access Road near the Daniel K. Inouye Highway intersection, on Department of Land and Natural Resources property near the mid-level facilities on Maunakea Access Road at the 9,000-foot elevation and on the TMT site on the summit of the mountain.

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The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court ruled that the two ahu on the TMT site did not constitute a traditional or customary right or practice, and they were removed with guidance from Native Hawaiian cultural advisors.

“We will proceed in a way that respects the people, place and culture that make Hawaiʻi unique. I will continue to work with the University of Hawaiʻi and all our partners to make meaningful changes that further contribute to the co-existence of culture and science on Mauna Kea,” said Gov. Ige

“My staff and I have carefully reviewed the TMT project plans to ensure they are aligned with the permit approved by the board and upheld by the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court,” BLNR Chair Case said. “The project has met all pre-construction requirements under the Conservation District Use Permit. As this project moves forward, I ask everyone who goes to Mauna Kea to respect this unique place and its fragile natural and cultural resources.”

“The notice to proceed with construction gives project managers, workers and others from our community authorization to begin work on the telescope,” Attorney General Connors said. “They will need safe access to the work site and safe conditions under which to work. The state will work to ensure their safety as well as the right of individuals to engage in speech about the project.”

“This notice to proceed is an important milestone in what has been a decade-long public and consultative process through which every requirement in statute, policy and procedure has now been met,” UH President Lassner said. “We firmly believe in the benefits of the most advanced telescope in the world on the most magnificent and awe-inspiring mountain in the world. We also accept the increased responsibilities for the stewardship of Maunakea, including the requirement that as this very last site is developed for astronomy on the mauna, five current telescopes will be decommissioned and their sites restored.”

“TMT is pleased and grateful that the notice to proceed has been issued by the Department of Land and Natural Resources to the University of Hawai‘i,” TMT International Observatory Board of Governors Chair Henry Yang said. “We remain committed to being good stewards of Maunakea, and to honoring and respecting the culture and traditions of Hawai‘i. It has been a long process to get to this point. We are deeply grateful to our many friends and community supporters for their advice and for their encouragement and support of the TMT project over the years.”

The Hawai`i County Council sent a press release at 11:30 a.m., stating that they requested a report form county administration regarding the extent of county agency activity on Maunakea.

“Due to the tremendous amount of calls and contacts made to our office by the community regarding today’s activities on Mauna Kea, we are requesting a report from County Administration regarding the extent of County Agency activity on Mauna Kea, the press release said. “Request for report to include the extent of involvement by County Police Department, Corp Counsel and County Administration. We are requesting for this report to be reviewed at the upcoming committee meeting on July 8, 2019.”

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