The Hawaii Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday that suspends a key permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope until Dec. 2, thwarting plans to resume construction on Mauna Kea this month.
The justices granted in part an emergency motion filed Monday by community groups who oppose the construction of the $1.4 billion observatory on the mountain in Hawaii County that many Native Hawaiians consider sacred.
“We respect the Court decision and we will stand down between now and December 2,” said TMT spokesman Scott Ishikawa on Tuesday night. “The Supreme Court’s decision will give all parties involved in the appeal sufficient time to respond to the motion.”
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in August on a lawsuit that highlights procedural problems with the state’s approval of the TMT. The project has been in the works for seven years, but protests in April resulted in dozens of arrests and brought construction to a standstill.
Earlier Tuesday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige had issued a statement saying that a plan for a TMT team to return to Mauna Kea on Wednesday involved work to “protect the environment and enhance public safety as we head into the winter season. This is not the start of construction of the telescope.”
“If this work is stopped, it is not a victory,” Ige said. “It will harm the environment. If there is violence, as some have suggested, that is not a victory. We are one community and we must continue to search for a resolution that will keep this community together.”
Ige said he was “committed to upholding the law and providing safe access for those who need to get to the summit of Mauna Kea, and that includes those involved with the TMT project. Our primary concern is for the safety of all.”