Government agencies have spent nearly $10M so far on their response to TMT protest

Gov. Ige defends rising costs

Government agencies have spent nearly $10M so far on their response to TMT protest
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The cost to state and county government agencies to respond to the ongoing Thirty Meter Telescope protest at Mauna Kea now tops $9.9 million, new figures show.

The Attorney General’s Office said Friday that its office, Hawaii National Guard, Department of Public Safety and state Department of Land and Natural Resources have now spent a combined $5.3 million.

Those costs went to personnel at the site of the protest and equipment.

“I’m committed to enforcing the law and finding a peaceful way forward. A lot of those preparations I think allowed us to be thoughtful in our approach, of the difference of opinion and I will continue to authorize the expenditure of resources that I believe can help us arrive at a peaceful resolution,” said Gov. David Ige in an interview Monday with Hawaii News Now.

Earlier this month, Hawaii County had put the cost of its response to the protest at $4.4 million.

The Maui Police Department has said the cost of overtime for its officers was $68,000, while the Honolulu Police Department said it cost $162,000 to send officers to the Big Island.

The protest at the base of Mauna Kea is now in its 89th day, and a resolution is nowhere in sight.

Those who call themselves protectors of Mauna Kea say they’ll stand their ground for as long as it takes and say Hawaii taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for TMT and security.

Supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope, meanwhile, say the $1.4 billion project has gotten all the necessary approvals and construction should be allowed to proceed.

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