Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Thirty Meter Telescope Inching Towards Final Approval

by Salman Hameed

I have provided updates here on the controversy over the proposed constriction of a thirty-meter telescope on top of Mauna Kea (for a background, please see here and the links there in that post). I'm
torn on this issue as the possibility of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is amazingly exciting for astronomy. However, I also have tremendous sympathy for the arguments made by the native Hawaiian groups for the preservation of their sacred mountain and of environmental groups. Astronomy here finds itself in an odd role of being the Goliath. Nevertheless, at the heart if all this lies a fascinating question of who owns a mountain and how do prioritize competing interests of very different nature.

All that said, it looks like the TMT is getting close to its final approval. The telescope consortium, actually, has been quite good in getting things done by the book. Therefore, they haven't started any construction work until all of the appeals are over. Just last week, the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) gave a tentative approval to the sublease to the TMT. However, the board will still consider a contested hearing case, but it looks like we are seeing the end of the road for the opponents of the construction of the new telescope. From Hawai'i Tribune:
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday approved granting the $1.3 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project a sublease for land on Mauna Kea.
In concept anyway.
While the board voted in favor of the agreement, it won’t go into effect until several contested case hearing requests are resolved. That process could take from a month to as much as a year to complete, board Chairman William Aila said at the meeting in Honolulu.
TMT spokeswoman Sandra Dawson said she isn’t expecting a lengthy delay.
“I am very hopeful we will move forward at this point,” she said.
Construction of the large telescope won’t occur unless the sublease is officially granted, Dawson said.
The situation isn’t unfamiliar for the project’s proponents.
A contested case hearing was held following the board’s approval of a conservation district use permit in 2011.
A hearings officer upheld the permit, a decision the board accepted in April 2013.
Critics of the project, who note the cultural importance of the mountain to Native Hawaiians, say it’s wise for the state not to rush, particularly since the mountain is already home to several other telescopes.
Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the contested case hearing petitioners, said there are still important issues that need to be resolved.
“These (hearings) don’t stop projects,” she said. “It’s a method of informing decision makers what the impact will be.   
Read the full article here. Here are links to earlier posts that might be helpful to get a background on the controversy:
Thirty Meter Telescope Approved on top of Mauna Kea

 Also, here is the location of TMT with respect to the existing observatories on Mauna Kea:


Oh, and if you are interested in checking out an amazing documentary about the intersection of astronomy, culture and politics, check out Nostalgia for the Light. It deals with telescopes in Chile, and is spectacular. See my review of the movie in the journal Science.
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday approved granting the $1.3 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project a sublease for land on Mauna Kea.
In concept anyway.
While the board voted in favor of the agreement, it won’t go into effect until several contested case hearing requests are resolved. That process could take from a month to as much as a year to complete, board Chairman William Aila said at the meeting in Honolulu.
TMT spokeswoman Sandra Dawson said she isn’t expecting a lengthy delay.
“I am very hopeful we will move forward at this point,” she said.
Construction of the large telescope won’t occur unless the sublease is officially granted, Dawson said.
The situation isn’t unfamiliar for the project’s proponents.
A contested case hearing was held following the board’s approval of a conservation district use permit in 2011.
A hearings officer upheld the permit, a decision the board accepted in April 2013.
Critics of the project, who note the cultural importance of the mountain to Native Hawaiians, say it’s wise for the state not to rush, particularly since the mountain is already home to several other telescopes.
Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the contested case hearing petitioners, said there are still important issues that need to be resolved.
“These (hearings) don’t stop projects,” she said. “It’s a method of informing decision makers what the impact will be.”
- See more at: http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/tmt-sublease-approved-0#sthash.7zxBO4Ps.dpuf
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday approved granting the $1.3 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project a sublease for land on Mauna Kea.
In concept anyway.
While the board voted in favor of the agreement, it won’t go into effect until several contested case hearing requests are resolved. That process could take from a month to as much as a year to complete, board Chairman William Aila said at the meeting in Honolulu.
TMT spokeswoman Sandra Dawson said she isn’t expecting a lengthy delay.
“I am very hopeful we will move forward at this point,” she said.
Construction of the large telescope won’t occur unless the sublease is officially granted, Dawson said.
The situation isn’t unfamiliar for the project’s proponents.
A contested case hearing was held following the board’s approval of a conservation district use permit in 2011.
A hearings officer upheld the permit, a decision the board accepted in April 2013.
Critics of the project, who note the cultural importance of the mountain to Native Hawaiians, say it’s wise for the state not to rush, particularly since the mountain is already home to several other telescopes.
Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the contested case hearing petitioners, said there are still important issues that need to be resolved.
“These (hearings) don’t stop projects,” she said. “It’s a method of informing decision makers what the impact will be.”
- See more at: http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/tmt-sublease-approved-0#sthash.7zxBO4Ps.dpuf
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday approved granting the $1.3 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project a sublease for land on Mauna Kea.
In concept anyway.
While the board voted in favor of the agreement, it won’t go into effect until several contested case hearing requests are resolved. That process could take from a month to as much as a year to complete, board Chairman William Aila said at the meeting in Honolulu.
TMT spokeswoman Sandra Dawson said she isn’t expecting a lengthy delay.
“I am very hopeful we will move forward at this point,” she said.
Construction of the large telescope won’t occur unless the sublease is officially granted, Dawson said.
The situation isn’t unfamiliar for the project’s proponents.
A contested case hearing was held following the board’s approval of a conservation district use permit in 2011.
A hearings officer upheld the permit, a decision the board accepted in April 2013.
Critics of the project, who note the cultural importance of the mountain to Native Hawaiians, say it’s wise for the state not to rush, particularly since the mountain is already home to several other telescopes.
Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the contested case hearing petitioners, said there are still important issues that need to be resolved.
“These (hearings) don’t stop projects,” she said. “It’s a method of informing decision makers what the impact will be.”
- See more at: http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/tmt-sublease-approved-0#sthash.7zxBO4Ps.dpuf

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