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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 83° Today's Paper

No, the state should not allow TMT on Mauna Kea

Since Sept. 1, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been holding its 2016 World Conservation Congress in Honolulu.

Committed to conservation and sustainable development, the congress, which ends Saturday, has brought together world leaders, nongovernmental organizations, businesses and indigenous and grassroots organizations to act on the challenges to the environment we all face.

While Hawaii’s leaders see this gathering as an opportunity to showcase Hawaii’s conservation efforts, our accomplishments cannot hide the elephant in the room: the state-supported proposal for a massive Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) proposed for a designated conservation district near the summit of Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea dwells in the heavenly realm of po, out of which is born the potential for all things. Because of this, Mauna Kea is the equivalent of Papahanaumokua- kea: They are the two sacred places in Hawaii that make complete our creation stories, one in the highest heavens, the other in the darkest depths of the oceans.

Mauna Kea is the firstborn of Papahanaumoku, Earth Mother, and Wakea, Sky Father, and is the elder sibling of kalo and the Hawaiian people.

Culturally significant places such as the “Ring of Shrines” are concentrated on the northern plateau. The many water deities who reside on Mauna Kea are a constant reminder that the mountain sits atop five aquifer systems that provide water for the entire island.

Laws protect the conservation district, and TMT cannot comply with these laws. The proposed TMT would be 18 stories tall on 5 acres on the pristine northern plateau. Construction would excavate 20 feet into the mountain, relocating 64,000 cubic yards of earth. A commercial dump truck can hold 10-14 cubic yards of dirt. It would take over 4,700 dump trucks to remove the earth at the TMT’s construction site.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) is responsible for protecting the fragile ecosystems in conservation districts through a permitting process. In 2011, however, it approved the TMT’s application, which the Hawaii Supreme Court later vacated based on BLNR’s error of approving the application before the contested case hearing.

Today, 24 organizations and individuals are preparing for the second contested case hearing against the TMT.

Development projects being considered for permitting must be consistent with the purpose of the conservation district, which is “to conserve, protect, and preserve the important natural and cultural resources of the State.”

Furthermore, the state Constitution protects rights customarily and traditionally exercised by Native Hawaiians.

The permit application asks whether the TMT would have a “substantial adverse impact.” NASA’s 2005 environmental impact statement on the Outrigger Telescopes concluded that the 13 telescopes on Mauna Kea have had a cumulative impact that is “substantial, adverse and significant.”

The mountain is overbuilt, and the TMT would only add to adverse impacts.

Yet the TMT is touted as a model of “sustainable astronomy” because it will be “zero waste,” use solar panels, truck wastewater down the mountain, and be painted an aluminum color to reduce visibility.

These are short-sighted, manini concessions to “sustainability.”

The 10,400 gallons of liquid waste generated by the TMT would require two trips by a large-sized tanker truck each week. The TMT will also generate 120 cubic feet of trash per week. Operation of the TMT will increase the use and underground storage of chemicals that will need to be transported by truck. All of these hazardous activities threaten both sacred ground and the waters of the aquifer.

We ask World Conservation Congress participants to address indigenous concerns over the “World Heritage” designation, to bring critical attention to Mauna Kea, and to pass a resolution urging the state of Hawaii to reconsider its support for construction of the TMT.

11 responses to “No, the state should not allow TMT on Mauna Kea”

  1. Mythman says:

    It would be a miracle for the conservation congress to pass a resolution against TMT’s wasteful destruction of pristine conditions when it can easily be built elsewhere, if at all. These folks are in the habit of playing footsie with the governmental powers they feed on to sustain their own existence.

  2. justmyview371 says:

    It initially sounded like you were saying that ICUN opposed the TMT, but they haven’t taken action to do that.

  3. Ken_Conklin says:

    The main thrust of this commentary is that Mauna Kea is a “sacred place” because the mountain was born from the mating of gods and because numerous gods live there.

    But we live in a multiracial society, under a Constitution which demands that there shall be no “establishment of religion” by the government. A small minority among the minority of ethnic Hawaiians seeks to impose upon us all the ancient Hawaiian religion as a basis for decision-making by the government. That is both immoral and illegal. This effort to force a religion upon government decision-making is an example of what I call “Hawaiian religious fascism”, and it is very dangerous. It must be rejected loud and clear. See my detailed analysis in webpage “Hawaiian religious fascism. A twisted version of a beautiful creation legend provides the theological basis for a claim that ethnic Hawaiians are entitled to racial supremacy in the governance and cultural life of the Hawaiian islands.” at

    Furthermore, the acknowledged leaders of the native Hawaiians themselves exercised self-determination for native Hawaiians as a group in 1819 (the year before the missionaries came) when they freely, of their own free will, abolished the old religion and ordered the destruction of the heiaus and burning of idols. That decision was made in a public display of breaking the ‘aikapu at a mass gathering and luau, by the four undisputed leaders of the natives: the new King Liholiho Kamehameha II, his birth-mother who had the highest mana in the land Keopuolani and had been the sacred wife of Kamehameha The Great, the co-ruler regent Ka’ahumanu who had been Kamehameha’s favorite and politically powerful wife, and high priest Hewahewa. They personally killed the old religion and the old gods. There was then a civil war in which Chief Kekuaokalani tried to defend the old religion; but he and his wife and their soldiers were soundly defeated in the Battle of Kuamo’o. Today we have a few pipsqueaks disrespecting the irrevocable decision of their kupunas and trying to revive the old religion for the political purpose of establishing a religious fascist dictatorship. Reject them!

    • Mythman says:

      Fascism is a global trend, that part of it is accurate. As usual, Dr C’s uncanny recital of long ago Hawaiian history resonates. What I am not so certain about is how accurate his commentary is in connecting dots of the past using sticky glue of today, esp when the glue is personalized, and as such, arbitrary. I prefer to let the federal constitution work out the fine details, as those researchers and scholars are more objective and less capricious, not that Dr C is capricious. Hawaiian nationalism is a media driven phenom, or trend, of the web. KSBE is doing fine without TMT.

  4. Masami says:

    Part of the argument against involves “Construction would excavate 20 feet into the mountain, relocating 64,000 cubic yards of earth. A commercial dump truck can hold 10-14 cubic yards of dirt. It would take over 4,700 dump trucks to remove the earth at the TMT’s construction site.” I thought that Mauna Kea was used by the ancient Hawaiians as an adze quarry which basically did the same thing?

  5. from_da_cheapseats says:

    Your mythology is suspect, unprovable as there is no ‘bible’ or document to point to. Please be honest and admit as much. In the end, it’s making it up to serve your own purpose. And yours is a purpose not for Hawaiians, or hawaiians or americans or mankind. It’s your personal purpose, mouthing off on what’s the myth here. And with the TMT, it’s here grown into a ‘look at me moment’ and a moment that is telling about you. And your lack of integrity. Or a concern for the tribe, the community, the region, the globe. You claim to speak for all Hawaiians, but that is pretentious and wrong. Your alliance to American jurisprudence is touching, if it serves your own purpose, as opposed to overturning the illegal annexation into America. Your lawyers also are self-interested, intent on making their mark on using the details of the law to overturn something that has been in process for many many years. They will raise their legal fees to others after this, using legal mythogy, something that is at least codified in books, and continue to game the political and legal system for their own pocketbook. Sad to see your alliance to them, rather than serving the needs of our people, all our peoples, with this most human need – knowledge, exploration being a big part of this, and a huge part of our Hawaiian tribe. If Kamehameha was alive, and in power, he would support this whole heartedly, as he himself believed in and benefited mightly from technology. He would probably kill all the lawyers, too. The 24 organizations you name are but infants – one such names himself as the Temple of Lono (herisy? or just idiocy?)- wailing at this, having their own look at me moment, and attmpting to take control of the leadership of the Hawaiian movement by claiming to be a priest. Claiming without any legitamacy. Like I said, your mythology is suspect, which is something Kamehameha would punish you for, probably terminally.

    • Mythman says:

      Resorting to kill someone, even in a second handed way, is not reasonable debate and indicates a lack of tolerance for any pathway other than the axiomatic path, which is going to, like communism, fail of its own inherent inner contradictions. But, it makes a good story, even though a fable. Now if the Hawaiians of today were identical to the Hawaiians of 1778, there might be possible a different outcome – one more like the ideal vision dreamed of as relief.

  6. st1d says:

    frightening to see narcissistic ignorance in action.

  7. hailama says:

    Man lots of ingorant people commenting on here must be foreigners..shut up go home donkeys..and um reply if u want it doesn’t matter hahahahaha..

  8. shee26 says:

    Kealoha Pisciotta is making some $$ from corporate funded environmentalism. Forget corporations, go non-profit where you’ll never be able to have the public see the real money trail changing policy in Hawaii.

    Her boss at Pew, Rebecca Rimmel, breaks the bank with her $4M salary.

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