HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor David Ige is laying out his plan for the stewardship of Mauna Kea, as it relates to TMT construction and beyond.
Governor Ige said, "My review found that the TMT project took the appropriate steps and received the approvals needed to move forward. The project has the right to proceed with construction, and the state will support and enforce its right to do so. We also acknowledge the right to protest this activity. We will protect the right to peaceful protest and will act to ensure the public safety and the right to use our roads for lawful purposes."
The governor noted that there is a court challenge to the project and he will abide by the decision of the court on this matter.
Governor Ige said his review also found that, "In many ways, we have failed the mountain. Whether you see it from a cultural perspective or from a natural resource perspective, we have not done right by a very special place and we must act immediately to change that."
The governor said the State of Hawaii must change the way it exercises responsibility for Mauna Kea and proposed to change the management of the entire summit, all of which is state land, to bring cultural voices into the leadership structure. He announced the formation of a Mauna Kea Cultural Council which will work with the Board and Department of Land and Natural Resources and the governor's office to ensure that all acts from here forward are sensitive to and observant of the host culture.
He also said that the state will increase its oversight of the activities currently taking place on the mountain under existing leases and sub-leases.
Governor Ige asked the University of Hawaii to take 10 significant actions related to enhanced stewardship in general and to the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), specifically.
1. Accept its responsibility to do a better job in the future.
2. Formally and legally bind itself to the commitment that this is the last area on the mountain where a telescope project will be contemplated or sought.
3. Decommission – beginning this year – as many telescopes as possible with at least 25 percent of all telescopes gone by the time TMT is ready for operation.
4. Restart the EIS process for the University's lease extension and conduct a full cultural impact assessment as part of that process.
5. Move access rules that significantly limit and put conditions on noncultural access to the mountain expeditiously through the process.
6. Require training in the cultural aspects of the mountain and how to be respectful to the cultural areas for anyone going on the mountain.
7. Substantially reduce the length of its request for a lease extension from the Board of Land and Natural Resources.
8. Voluntarily return to full DLNR jurisdiction all lands (over 10,000 acres) not specifically needed for astronomy.
9. Ensure full use of its scheduled telescope time.
10. Make a good faith effort to revisit the issue of payments by the existing telescope now as well as requiring it in the new lease.
Governor Ige asked the TMT team to increase its support for Native Hawaiian students interested in science and technology through admission to and scholarships at its own or partner institutions with first priority given to students on Hawaii Island and then to students statewide.
Ige concluded by committing to take a much longer view of our cultural and natural resources and to plan for them in 10 years, 40 years and even 100 years.