Gov. David Ige said Tuesday that the giant telescope-building project at the summit of Mauna Kea has the right to move ahead, nevertheless Hawaii has failed the mountain in many ways.
Amid protestations and arrests from opposing activist against the construction of the $1.4 billion giant telescope who had blocked workers from accessing the site, construction has halted since last month. Ige said it is the discretion of the nonprofit telescope firm when to resume construction. “And we will support and enforce their right to do so,” he stressed.
Kealoha Pisciotta, a Big Island critic of the Thirty Meter Telescope, said she is disillusioned in Ige’s comments, which she describes as lacking in substance. “It created this illusion that we’re going to do something without really doing much,” she said, adding that his statement does not weaken demonstrators resolve to stay on the mountain.
Telescope officials did not declare when construction will resume.
Ige also promised major changes of Mauna Kea stewardship, considered sacred by Native Hawaiians. The land leased by University of Hawaii, must make a better performance of its stewardship, he reiterated, listing 10 actions he’s asking the university to make.
Which includes decommissioning of as many as possible, the telescopes already set up on the mountain, with at least 25 % of the 13 telescopes gone by the time Thirty Meter Telescope is ready to operate, to commit legally that this be the last area on the mountain were a telescope will be constructed, re-start the environmental review process for the lease extension of the university, and limit non-cultural access to the mountain.
The university plans to issue a more extensive statement this week that will describe steps it is planning to take in comeback to the governor’s list.
Ige also announced for the creation of a Mauna Kea cultural council that will work hand in hand with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. He also urged telescope leaders to increase the support for Native Hawaiian students who are studying science and technology.