Retired Hawaii Island Circuit Court Judge Riki May Amano has been chosen as the hearings officer to conduct a new contested case hearing regarding the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope project atop Mauna Kea, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Friday.

Last December, the state Supreme Court vacated the permit allowing the TMT project, concluding the DLNR violated due process when it approved a permit for the $1.4 billion project in 2011 prior to holding the first contested case hearing.

That decision was a victory for many Native Hawaiian activists and their supporters who successfully prevented the beginning of telescope construction last year through protests and vigils on Mauna Kea. Dozens were arrested for blocking construction on the mountain, where 13 observatories have already been built.

Artist's rendering of the Thirty Meter Telescope with all vents open. The vents are designed to optimize air flow over the primary mirror so as to reduce mirror seeing effects.
An artist’s rendering of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope. Thirty Meter Telescope

Faced with the considerable delay resulting from the Supreme Court ruling, TMT officials have begun considering other potential sites for the telescope, including Chile, the Canary Islands and India.

In a press release issued Friday, the DLNR said Amano was the first choice of a selection committee that included James Duffy, a retired Supreme Court justice; Deputy Attorney General Stella Kam; and Christopher Yuen, a member of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

“Any comments on and objections to this appointment shall be filed no later than April 15,” the release stated. They should be sent to the DLNR Administrative Proceedings Office, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 130, Honolulu, HI 96813.

“Judge Amano will determine the schedule for the contested case hearing,” the release stated.

Amano served as a judge in state district and circuit courts from February 1992 until her retirement in April 2003. She now resides in Honolulu.

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