Hawaii Gov: Controversial Telescope “Has the Right to Proceed”, Others Must Be Decommissioned

posted: 05/27/15
by: Danny Clemens
Keck Observatories
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The W. M. Keck Observatory sits atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea, near the site of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
Stephan Hoerold/iStock

Hawaii Governor David Ige announced in a news conference Tuesday that construction on the hotly contested Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) atop Mauna Kea can continue, declaring that the government "will support and enforce" the project's right to proceed.

The project was halted in early April admits protests from the Native Hawaiian community. According to Native Hawaiian beliefs, Mauna Kea is the sacred home of several deities; as such, they claim it should only be used for religious ceremonies. Environmental activists also expressed concern at the ecological impacts of the 18-story telescope, the highest and second largest Extremely Large Telescope on the planet.

However, Ige also announced several changes intended to establish common ground between the scientific community and Native Hawaiians:

Ige requested that the University of Hawaii, which officially manages the mountain, must not commission any more telescopes on the mountain following the completion of the TMT project. Furthermore, 25% of the existing telescopes on the mountain must be decommissioned by the time construction on the TMT is completed.

The newly established Mauna Kea Cultural Council will also bring "bring cultural voices into the leadership structure", and will be comprised of both supporters and opponents of the telescope project.

"As in many areas of Hawaii's life, we need to take a much longer view of our resources and to plan for them in ten years, forty and even a hundred years," he added.

Click here to read Ige's full statement

Learn more about telescopes:

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The Discovery Channel Telescope: Watchdog Telescope

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