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Hawaii Pulls the Plug on Thirty Meter Telescope Project

posted: 12/04/15
by: Danny Clemens
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In a much-anticipated Wednesday ruling, the Supreme Court of Hawaii rescinded the building permit for the hotly contested Thirty Meter Telescope project.

In a 58-page written opinion, the court ruled that the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources erred in issuing a building permit for the project "before the request for a contested case hearing was resolved and the hearing was held."

Before the permit can be re-issued, the Board must now conduct a contested case hearing.

Thirty Meter Telescope rendering
Thirty Meter Telescope

"We thank the Hawaii Supreme Court for the timely ruling and we respect their decision. TMT will follow the process set forth by the state, as we always have," Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory Board of Directors Chairman Henry Yang said in a statement.

"We are assessing our next steps on the way forward. We appreciate and thank the people of Hawaii and our supporters from these last eight-plus years."

Related: Hackers Crash Website of Controversial Telescope Project

The proposed telescope would sit atop Mauna Kea, the highest point in the state of Hawaii, which is an important resource to both astronomers and Native Hawaiians.

According to Native Hawaiian beliefs, the mountain is the sacred home of several deities; as such, they claim it should only be used for religious ceremonies.

Since the 1960s, however, the University of Hawaii has managed the land as an astronomical reserve. The university has already built 13 telescopes on the reserve, all of which pale in comparison to the proposed 18-story Thirty Meter Telescope.

Environmental activists have also expressed concern regarding the ecological impacts of the 18-story facility, which would be the highest and second largest Extremely Large Telescope on the planet.

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