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Permit for telescope faces legal challenge


LAST UPDATED: 12:03 p.m. HST, Oct 07, 2013

Oral arguments are scheduled to begin Dec. 13 for a legal case challenging Hawaii's decision to grant a permit for the construction of the world's largest optical telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea.

Opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope appealed a state Board of Land and Natural Resources decision to the Circuit Court in Hilo in May.

The petitioners say they want to force the board to uphold its public trust duties to protect Hawaii's natural and cultural resources because traditional and customary Hawaiian practices depend on them.

Kealoha Pisciotta, president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, an organization of Native Hawaiian traditional and cultural practitioners of Mauna Kea, said the question is whether the rules allow more development that would have an adverse and significant impact on the mountain's land and waters. She said the "answer is no."

The board has a "duty to uphold the public trust and has clearly abused this trust," Pisciotta said in a statement.

The plaintiffs filed an opening brief for their appeal Sept. 26.

The project to build the telescope was started by the University of California, California Institute of Technology and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy. Observatories and institutions in China, India and Japan have since signed on as partners.

Thirty Meter Telescope Corp. hopes to begin construction in April and start operations in 2021.

The telescope's segmented primary mirror would be nearly 100 feet, or 30 meters, in diameter. TMT says this will give its telescope nine times the collecting area of the largest optical telescopes in use today: the twin W.M. Keck telescopes built on Mauna Kea in the 1990s.

The telescope would be able to observe planets that orbit stars other than the sun and enable astronomers to watch new planets and stars being formed. It would also help scientists see some 13 billion light-years away for a glimpse into the early years of the universe.

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eleu808 wrote:
This is an abuse of conservation land laws. To allow dynamite and bulldozers to destroy conservation land is now against Hawaii law. To exempt these laws will open the flood gates to bulldoze and dynamite other conservation lands in Hawaii. This proposed eysore the size of a football stadium is outdated technology. No land based telescope can compete with the Hubble telescope. This is just a moneymaking scheme to profit off the backs of Hawaii taxpayers. These telescopes charge thousands a night in usage and only pay the state a dollar a year. The million dollar a year in hush money propmised to Hawaii county is spit money for these international corporations. The state should be asking for a majority percentage of the profits since the state is providing the conservation land for pennies on the dollar. As the dollar crashes, this million dollar a year hush money is a joke.
on October 7,2013 | 04:05AM
Grimbold wrote:
Up there is a useless desert. These are frivolous lawsuits . I wonder if any of these complainers even pay taxes.
on October 7,2013 | 11:31PM
Reade1 wrote:
Why is it Mauna Kea the most popular choice for telescopes? Why is it foreign countries who understands cultural practices and respect are investors? The answer; Because it is not in their backyard. Mount Fuji in Japan is sacred, do you think Japan would allow to build anything on it? Mauna Kea is sacred for the Native Hawaiians as Mount Fuji is for the Japanese. Science has its good and bad points and the bad points has caused global warming, weapons of destruction in turn causing wars between countries, pollution, greed and the list goes on. What is the gain in outer space for the everyday person? Mother nature, medicine or good science health programs we understand for it keeps us alive longer and most times relieves pain. Don't we know enough of outer space? The earth will not be a better place to live because of a giant telescope. Hawaii has been abused, no respect for land, ocean and native people. Look around you, traffic is nuts, crime is up, illegal immigrants are up, cost of living is high, welfare is at max, price to live is in the red, need to attend a high tuition school to get a better education, economy is a roller coster, government shut down cost effective but the government rather allow investors to go out of space on sacred land to please a specialized group of nerds and it's followers. Unless some wild scientist has other plans for mass destruction weapons from deeper outer space stronger then nuclear weapons. Now day's you got to think out of the box or is it too much science fiction movies? Poor Hawaii will be continued to be abused and disrespected. Do you think this project is really necessary for us to live? Once you destroy mother nature the re-birth will take thousands of years but who cares we be dead unless scientist manufacture an everlasting life pill?
on October 7,2013 | 05:07AM
localguy wrote:
Reade1 - Really. Mount Fuji, while lower in height than Mauna Kea, does not have telescopes due to the severe winter weather and the fact it is still an active volcano. You did know this right? People do climb the mountain during the summer months, the rest of the year winter weather settles in, making observation impossible. Mauna Kea has far better weather for observing. And no, we do not know enough about the cosmos.Well, we do know the cosmos came in to being on its own. There is no supreme being or God. Just rules of science. So building the observatory is a great feat for the Nei. Good science, good jobs for those studying the cosmos. Can't we all just get along.
on October 7,2013 | 06:12AM
Makua wrote:
Reade1, I say, like localguy, the world would be a better place because of a giant telescope.......on Mauna Kea. The earth will not be a better place if we keep building more McDonalds. Why not think of this as a very special aina that Pele has provided for the good of man and his insatiable appetite to understand life beyond the mundane. I am Hawaiian and I am proud that Hawaii is uniquely able to provide a superior scientific location with a 968 zip code.
on October 7,2013 | 06:53AM
Reade1 wrote:
Makua - How much of the world will be a better place to live because of a giant telescope, on Mauna Kea? So you know Pele, do you understand her chants, do you practice as a Hawaiian the rituals of Pele? You asking me, why not think as a very special aina? It is a special Aina and always has been. We need to take care life first. If we can take care life first and respect for the aina then we do have a conversation on any issue. Don't you understand the History of the Hawaiians, they were almost wiped out, derailed and the true language of the aina was restricted. It took Hawaiians to bring back the language into the schools, it took Hawaiians to fight for their homestead land, it took Hawaiians to gain back the cultural believes and it will take Hawaiians to protect the Aina. I understand your thoughts and I respect your feelings but for me life and land first everything else is secondary.
on October 7,2013 | 07:52AM
Makua wrote:
Read1 - if you are Irish and don't spend much time in a bar are you still Irish? You and I hold different perspectives on the true Hawaiian. For you the past is your guide for the present. For me the future is more important than the past. I build on the past to live a more compleat and satisfying future. My focus is to learn and adapt to and be an integral part of the world around me. The Hawaiian Culture is absolutely beautiful, beyond measure, however is it not the only beautiful manifestation in our lives.
on October 7,2013 | 09:15AM
Reade1 wrote:
Makua - You are right ,me and the braddah's do go to the pub and have some poke, beer and if have awa we share and still braddah's even when we do not go to the pub. A real True Hawaiian come from the past ask the Kupuna. But we believe, respect and practice the past first to get to the future Thats the biggest problem in this world when you don't practice and respect the past first. The future is very much important to us too, You thinking Western, disrespected Western outlook destroyed our people, aina, natural resources and disrespected our culture and look now you how many Hawaiians are left to defend Hawaii!. Most of us are highly educated and hold PHD's in fields of knowledge in our little hui. I hold an engineering degree and understand the theory, mechanics and most important the advantages and disadvantages of science. The Hokule'a had go the past to gain the knowledge that scientist had to use instruments. With respect to the past of the ancestors has guided Hokule'a and many more na wa'a to support the education programs. Manifestation in our life starts with knowledge of respect. The western thinking shows no respect only take over what is available and by taking without respect to benefit their pockets and power. You really think the telescope will help mankind. Will this project put food on the table for the world? Will this project return our natural resources! Will this project reduce crime, pollution and homeless? When respect is not respected the outcome is always negative.
on October 7,2013 | 10:30AM
Makua wrote:
Read1- I totally respect and admire what it took to: Build the Model T in 1908, Test the Wright Flight in 1903 and create the first telescope in 1608. Each of these inventions have matured over the years to the benefit of mankind today. I no longer drive a car with a six volt battery. I do not dwell or live in the past, if I can help it. I respect my Hawaiian culture but truthfully am annoyed when the "sacred" word is used to stop progress.
on October 7,2013 | 12:03PM
allie wrote:
Pele does not exist hon. Stone gods were rejected by Hawaiians 200 years ago. Take your romancing the stone elsewhere.
on October 7,2013 | 02:20PM
holokanaka wrote:
"Pele does not exist" ...neither does the christian god.
on October 7,2013 | 08:45PM
BluesBreaker wrote:
Okay, now that we have superstition out of the way, let's build the telescope!
on October 7,2013 | 09:22PM
wiliki wrote:
Just as this peak is an altar for Pele... it is an altar for science. Man has tried to understand the great mysteries of life through science just as he has done through faith in religion.

There are a number of discoveries found at Mauna Kea that otherwise would not have been seen. Isn't the means for that discovery just as holy as Hawaiian Gods.

on October 7,2013 | 03:52PM
Reade1 wrote:
Localguy-Really if you are true local you would understand the spiritual value and respect of both. Yes I know Mount Fuji is alive and I also know the respect of both dead or alive is the same. "RESPECT" is the key word and I am sure your kupuna has educated you on respect or you must have missed the boat on respect.. No, we cannot get along because again this project does not justifies everyday living needs and respect. Does the rule of science allows the destruction of live and land. Jobs? for who the local janitor and the highly educated out of town scientist and their crew who believe in the cosmos, not in the uhane of our ancestors, and have minimum concern on the everyday life of man. I enjoy and believe in science but when science has no respect then we need to step up to the plate and challenge. Don't say we know cosmos came in being on its own, you not us have that believe. For you to bring God into the picture? WOW! For those studying cosmos, what about those who believe in protecting Hawaii from overdevelopment for money. Mauna Kea is ceded land and the state has illegally allowed many land usage breaking the true law of the land. You do know the Hawaiians own the ceded land? Also you do know the USA illegally occupies Hawaii and there is a law suit filed with the International Court of Law and has been accepted by countries who have treaties with the Hawaii Kingdom. i would hold my horses until the outcome of the law suit.
on October 7,2013 | 07:16AM
allie wrote:
Close them all down seems the best way. Hawaii deserves what it gets frankly.
on October 7,2013 | 02:19PM
star08 wrote:
Mean, Allie. Just plain mean.
on October 7,2013 | 09:46PM
Eradication wrote:
Have you walked up Mt. Fuji lately? You might want to before using it as an example for your argument. After you are finished with your ranting you might want to realize that while Mauna O Wakea is indeed Wahi Pana it is also a useful tool to connect all people, especially native ones, to the universe beyond these islands. Connecting the stars that our ancestors used to navigate the largest ocean in the world with our youth will only strengthen their ties to the aumakua that have gone before us. All lands on Moku O Keawe are sacred yet no one says much about the trash left on the side of saddle road leading up to the mountain. I drive it often and see four-wheel truck tire trails leading across the rainforest, garbage bags strewn into the forest, Heineken bottles all over the place, and cigarette butts everywhere. Go down to Hilo bay and see the same thing. How about going out to Ophikao and look at all the shacks pouring sewage directly into the ponds and ocean. Go out to Puna and see how many abandoned cars, leaking fuels and oils into the ground there are. I look at Mauna O Wakea as a sacred gift given to the people (all people) to cherish and honor. All users, native and non-native have a responsibility to care for it. The astronomy community has much to learn about all of this but they are doing a good job improving and reducing the footprint that they are leaving. How many telescopes are closing down as a result of the 30m telescope? o.k., I'm done ranting now.
on October 8,2013 | 01:11AM
yhls wrote:
Kudos to Mauna Kea Ainana Hou for bringing attention to this matte. The project is a political boondoggle and must be stopped.
on October 7,2013 | 06:12AM
LizKauai wrote:
Nature is our environment spiritual qualities are eternal and sacred. The earth is home to every generation and is where we learn how to evolve from material beings to spiritual beings. Science and religion are part of the same Truth and one without the other does not serve humanity beneficially. It is our challenge to seek Truth and live Pono in the present.
on October 7,2013 | 07:15AM
Mythman wrote:
In law, can't be stopped. I would like to see Hawaii's two best elements work together for the future: the Hawaiian and Science. The old and the new. Now that would work. I think what is pizzing off Hawaiians is they are being ignored and instead the state and county is muscling them out of the picture as usual. The science guys ought to be honoring and respecting the Hawaiian instead of paying Stevie Wonder to give a concert, Larry should be paying Willie K or some other Hawaiian performer. The courts belong to the local government, not the Hawaiians.
on October 7,2013 | 08:06AM
Manawai wrote:
Distance is the issue here. The plaintiffs don't want to see beyond the ends of their noses.
on October 7,2013 | 09:31AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Oh, I'd say they are more focused on the bottom of their wallets.
on October 7,2013 | 10:34AM
Reade1 wrote:
The plaintiffs already saw beyond their nose and the distance is not far. Po is right around the corner of your eyes.
on October 7,2013 | 10:38AM
kaiakea wrote:
Mauna Kea is sacred, yes, to Wakea. But EVERYTHING was sacred to the people of old. EVERY PLACE was either the realm of the gods, or was visited by them or by honored ancestors. And being a sacred place did not stop the ancients from going up to Mauna Kea to gather adze stones to make their lives easier. I think that if the construction is done with appropriate safeguards, and if the children and people of Hawaii will benefit, then build it.
on October 7,2013 | 12:30PM
Venus1 wrote:
on October 7,2013 | 01:06PM
allie wrote:
yup but count on "Hawaiian groups" to demand $$$ for their approval.
on October 7,2013 | 02:21PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Mauna Kea is sacred" .........In Hawaiian oli, Mauna Kea (White Mountain), along with Mauna Loa (Long Mountain), were the first sight the first Hawaiians from Nukuhiwa saw. According to the oli (chant), both mountains, sacred to Hawaiians, "as if calling them to their home".
on October 7,2013 | 04:40PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Sorry ....."calling them to their NEW home".
on October 7,2013 | 04:45PM
StalaDruggesh wrote:
This telescope will put our community at the center of scientific breakthroughs in the field of astronomy. All of mankind will benefit from what is learned from this telescope atop this sacred mountain. Can respect of the culture and traditions of native Hawaiians coexist with modern scientific and academic pursuits? I believe it is possible if all involved are willing to listen and find a mutual agreement. Lawsuits and "all or nothing" rhetoric don't persuade me and I find this negativity and complaining to be more sour grapes from a vocal minority that seeks to divide the community and perpetuate a false narrative of victimhood.
on October 7,2013 | 04:12PM
9ronboz wrote:
This is like the inter island ferry
on October 7,2013 | 07:59PM
Anonymous wrote:
Mauna Kea is a source of understanding for ignorant humans. The idea that Mauna Kea would be violated or, perhaps more perjoriatively raped, by the proposed building of a new information center for the universe, based on the implementation of new telescope, is worth considering and necessary for any resolution. Based on the value of increased scientific information, the proposed telescope is a very logical and valuable component for human understanding of the solar system, the cosmos, and beyond. Best place in the USA and elsewhere! Based on the cultural significance, it is clear that there is opposition to additional physical structures on Mauna Kea. This is understandable from a direct physical impact situation. But from a practical point of view, what exactly are the cultural practices that are impacted? The entire mountain of Mauna Kea could be claimed as a culturally important and relevant area. But if there are no cultural activities occurring there now, then what is the point of the claim of cultural significance? Is it that at some point in the future, such activities could occur? This emphasis on potential future use is non-relevant for current use, and does not account for the ease of changing use patterns in the future as needed. Again, hard for this observer to see any losses if the new Mauna Kea telescopes are built. Also, it is difficult to support the push against having Mauna Kea be an information source for the world, I would perhaps expect that Hawaiian persons associated with the big-island system would be thrilled to have another solid scientific monitoring system online and showing accurately what's going on in the great beyond, for ourselves and our children, in a changing world.
on October 8,2013 | 12:13AM
Anonymous wrote:
Censored IDEAS! Thanks staradvertiser!
on October 8,2013 | 12:43AM