LETTER: Reflections on the Mauna

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How did we get to a place where hundreds of Hawai‘i police officers dressed in full riot gear are arresting kupuna and carting them off in paddy wagons?

More importantly, how do we get out of this very dangerous situation before it blows up further?

The roots of the conflict on the Mauna are complex, but not really.

Our state government has mismanaged the telescope issue since inception, just as it continues to mismanage public trust natural resources in general – on all islands.

Too many promises have been broken and too many concessions already have been made.

Now the people have risen to say “enough already”.


There are at least 13 other telescopes already on Mauna Kea. The TMT will be 18 stories tall, encompassing an area equivalent to 4 football fields. The cumulative impact of the new proposal and the existing development equates to a massive industrial complex – all situated on conservation land and a site most sacred to Hawaiians.

Being against the TMT does not translate to being “anti-science” or “anti astronomy”. Similarly, being against a hotel development on the beach that will generate jobs, does not equate to being “against jobs”.

Denying the TMT development will not stop the astronomy. The developers have already indicated publicly they can build the project in Chile or in the Canary Islands where they have already secured permits.

This is public land, so it’s not a question of denying someone their private property rights. The state can choose to allow the development, or not.

In addition to the poor stewardship and broken promises directly associated with Mauna Kea…there is a vast litany of negligence, ongoing mismanagement of public resources, and an abuse of the public trust – on all islands.


A recent audit of the DLNR Land Management Division concluded there was “no strategic plan for its public lands”.

On Kaua‘i, the state is knowingly and consciously dumping millions of gallons of pesticide-contaminated water into nearshore waters on Kauai’s west side, where families recreate, fish and pick limu. The state knows these waters contain a wide array of pesticides and heavy metals, they know they are breaking federal law – yet they continue the daily dumping.

On Maui, for decades the state has transferred the rights of public trust stream waters to major corporations, effectively killing countless mountain streams and denying downstream users the benefit of the water – also without the constitutionally and legally required permits and without adequate compensation or public protections.

On O‘ahu, massive underground military fuel tanks situated directly over major drinking water aquifers have been leaking fuel for years and it took the release of 27,000 gallons to prod the state into action.

Who are the primary beneficiaries of this de facto desecration and defilement of our public trust resources? The answer, of course, is multinational chemical companies, real estate investment trusts (REIT’s), Canadian pension funds, a global university conglomerate and ultimately the U.S. military.


And all of this takes place against a backdrop of statewide political and governmental corruption that is in the news every day.

It is not surprising that people across the island chain, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian alike, have had enough and consequently have drawn the proverbial line in the sand…on the Mauna.

The governor and his security force must stand down. Bringing in more armed police and making more arrests will escalate the passion and increase the likelihood of physical harm coming to those now on the mountain.

The only winning path for the people of Hawai‘i is for the state to immediately announce their intent to cancel the TMT project. Yes, there will be a price to pay for this action, but it will be far less of a price than that which will be incurred by pressing forward with troops and batons.

This is about much more than a single telescope being built on this particular mountain.

Please reach out today and ask Governor Ige, do what is pono.

Ask him to not use force to achieve his goals on Mauna Kea. Ask him instead to lead with aloha, statesmanship, and restraint.

Please call his office at 808-586-0034 and leave a message with his office staff, or on his voice mail. While it may be difficult for some, please state your message with courtesy and politeness. The person who answers the phone is not responsible for the Governors decision.

With respect and solidarity,

Gary Hooser
Board President – Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA)
Hawai’i State Senator (2002 – 2010)
Director Office of Environmental Quality Control (2011 – 2012)
Kauai County Council (1998 -2002, 2012 -2016)

Note1: If you agree, I ask that you also consider supporting the protectors on the Mauna by making a contribution of any amount ASAP to the Aloha Aina Support Fund.

Note2: I want to thank everyone who was able to make a contribution to HAPA in support of economic justice issues. Of the $8,500 goal, we received just over $5,000! If you can help close that final gap please visit HAPA online if possible by July 24th, to make a secure and tax-exempt donation.

Note3: Please take moment if you can to read my latest blog piece that better explains the ADC issue of polluting Kauai’s west side waters with pesticides and heavy metals.

“Every single day of the week, the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) dumps millions of gallons of water polluted with pesticides and heavy metals into the ocean in areas where Kauai’s west side residents fish, surf and recreate with their families.

“This is not wild speculation, exaggeration or hysterical hyperbole.” READ MORE HERE.

Letters, commentaries and opinion pieces are not edited by Big Island Now.

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