The Hawaii state Supreme Court today invalidated the permit allowing construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea.
The court said the state Board of Land and Natural Resources erred when it issued the permit before a contested case hearing was held for the $1.4 billion project. The justices sent the case back to the board for a hearing.
“Quite simply, the board put the cart before the horse,” said the opinion written by Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.
The court on Nov. 17 granted a request for an emergency stay that blocked crews from working at the TMT site through today, averting a confrontation with protesters who had planned to stop crews from performing vehicle maintenance and repair at the work site.
Today’s order could set back the project months to years while it goes through permitting again.
TMT officials previously said they would forge ahead with construction of the cutting-edge telescope even if a major delay emerged from the court.