Governor Ige imposed a week long moratorium on the Thirty Meter Telescope construction. This decision comes on the heels of OHA Trustee Peter Apo’s call for a 30-day construction moratorium.

I’m curious what is the endgame after the construction moratorium expires. The anti-astronomy groups don’t want the Thirty Meter Telescope built on Mauna Kea – even though University of Hawaii, Thirty Meter Telescope, and Department of Land and Natural Resources have bent over backwards to appease their concerns.

Thirty Meter Telescope Mauna Kea

An artist’s view of the Thirty Meter Telescope with laser at night.

Courtesy TMT International Observatory

The Thirty Meter Telescope project went through a seven-year public vetting process, which included a lengthy contested case hearing for the conservation district use permit. The hearing officer upheld the Board of Land Natural Resources’s findings, so the BLNR granted the permit and the site lease.

The University of Hawaii also implemented a comprehensive management plan for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. This was mandated after the Keck Outrigger decision.

The comprehensive management plan has imposed strict conditions on future telescope projects on Mauna Kea. The TMT will be the last new telescope constructed on Mauna Kea; future telescopes will recycle existing facilities and footprint.

In short, I strongly believe placing a temporary moratorium on the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope is pure and simple grandstanding.

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