Protesters have increased their efforts as they hope to stop the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
The TMT Observatory Corporation nonprofit picked Mauna Kea as the telescope’s site back in 2009. Since then, a long process to obtain approval from Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources is underway.
The summit of Mauna Kea is regarded as a protected conservation zone, and anything built atop the inactive volcano has to comply with certain criteria, among which is not causing “substantial adverse impact to existing natural resources” within the region.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources gave the project the green light in 2011, but the informal consortium Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, and other groups, like the Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, had filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block construction, arguing for protecting the tradition involving the volcano.
In July 2014, construction of the Thirty Meter Telescopewas officially approved, while in October, construction started in spite of peaceful protests. Some protesters had even temporarily shut down TMT’s website on April 26.
Recent reports said that a few protesters were arrested after they blocked the road to the Mauna Kea summit. Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs voted to overturn their original vote of support for the Thirty Meter Telescope, which was made back in 2009. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is “noncommittal” on the matter of if construction on the telescope should continue. It’s not certain when work on TMT will resume, following Hawaii Governor David Ige’s moratorium on the project.
According to the New York TImes, Ige has to “step up” and assume a firmer stance on the matter, as well as do more than publishing “mild news releases” that appeal for further dialogue.
“If he thinks the telescope is an important asset that promises great benefits to Hawaii’s residents and economy, not to mention to science and humanity at large, he should say so. If he thinks more needs to be done to protect the environment and native interests, he should say what that is and make it happen,” the publication wrote.
The company in charge with the Thirty Meter Telescope insists its paperwork is in order. The group also says it will donate about $2 million a year to local issues like job training, business incubation, technology, scholarships in science, math and engineering.
Image Source: Hawaii Magazine