Supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope waved signs and flags Sunday outside of the Hawai‘i Convention Center while a major astronomy conference
was being held inside.
The convention, which runs through Wednesday,
is the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical
Society. More than 3,400 astronomers, educators and students were attending the convention.
Construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island has been stalled since July when protesters blocked construction equipment and parts from being transported up Mauna Kea Access Road. The $1.4 billion project, which involves building one of the world’s most powerful telescopes, had won all the necessary permits to begin construction.
Last week Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim gave his personal guarantee there would be no attempt to move TMT equipment up the mountain to start construction in January or February, and the anti-TMT demonstrators agreed to move their tent to the side of the road. With that, Mauna Kea Access Road was open to the public.
Kim said he will meet with Gov. David Ige today to discuss the next step in the standoff, according to West Hawaii Today.
The American Astronomical Society was to discuss the TMT controversy during a series of panels and presentations.
In a news release, society President Megan Donahue of Michigan State University said the controversy is about much more than the construction of a new telescope on a mountain many Hawaiians consider sacred.
“It’s also about the
of indigenous people, the islands’ economy and many other complex and interrelated issues,” she said.