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Board defers Big Isle telescope decision

By Associated Press


The Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday deferred a key decision for a $1.3 billion telescope proj­ect, saying the state needs more time to explore legal issues.

Board members voted to defer a decision on the sublease for the Thirty Meter Telescope, which scientists want to build on the state's highest peak.

The sublease is the last major bureaucratic hurdle for scientists hoping to start operations in 2021. The proj­ect also faces paperwork and the threat of court action by opponents.

Organizers plan to build the telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea on Hawaii island.

The project was initiated by the University of Cali­for­nia, California Institute of Technology and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy. Universities and institutions in China, India and Japan later signed on as partners.

The decision was deferred after board members heard several hours of public testimony.

If built, the Thirty Meter Telescope could be the largest optical telescope in the world, sporting a primary mirror that would be nearly 100 feet, or 30 meters, in diameter.

But that title could be usurped by a group of European scientists who are working on the European Extremely Large Telescope. They plan to have a mirror that is 138 feet, or 42 meters, in diameter.

The University of Hawaii leases from the state the land where the telescope would be built.

The Thirty Meter Telescope group would sublease the land from UH starting at $300,000 for the first year, rising gradually to about $1 million a year after a decade. The UH Board of Regents unanimously voted to support the proj­ect about four years ago.

Some Native Hawaiians oppose the proj­ect because they believe it would defile a summit they consider sacred. Some environmentalists also oppose the telescope because they believe it could harm the rare wekiu bug.

Cathy Bussewitz, Associated Press

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harley1 wrote:
yes, no, maybe, try wait, I tink, well ok, no-yes-no-ok, oh wait till another meeting in a year, I need a beer to think about it some more.
on June 14,2014 | 06:01AM
eleu808 wrote:
Bulldoze and dynamite Conservation Zoned Land. With enough hush money, Zoning Land laws need not apply. The offer of hush money is an insult to the people of Hawaii. These land based telescope eyesores will never take pictures of the deep space as the Hubble Telescope.
on June 14,2014 | 06:18AM
locksims wrote:
Why can a few hold up progress? Enough is enough -- build it already.
on June 14,2014 | 07:52AM
Slow wrote:
Perhaps your assumption of progress is wrong.
on June 14,2014 | 08:39AM
false wrote:
Don't care about the wekui bug or about a sacred mountain by some. But I do care about our tax money being spent for what? Let the Europeans build their own 42 meter telescope which would eclipse our 30 meters and would probably produce greater results.
on June 14,2014 | 11:11AM
BlasterMaster wrote:
Once again, the Board of Land and Natural Resources announces to the world that Hawai'i remains a backwater to advancing astronomy on the world stage. The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) claim to fame is not that it will be largest optical telescope in the world (there will ALWAYS be another telescope built that will be larger) but that it is sited in the best PLACE in the world to make new discoveries about the nature of the universe. It could be argued that any man made structures, including Native Hawaiian constructs "defile[d] a summit that they consider sacred". Astronomers consider it sacred as well, housing "shrines" in which to explore and marvel at the universe.
on June 14,2014 | 03:15PM
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