Friday marked another important step forward for the future of astronomical discovery and economic opportunity on Hawaii Island. The Hawaiian Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) announced that it has granted a permit to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project to build and operate the next-generation observatory near the summit of Mauna Kea.
With this approval, the BLNR has recognized TMT’s goal of responsible development and environmental stewardship of Mauna Kea in close partnership with local interests. The carefully considered conditions in the permit help ensure the protection of sensitive environments in Hawaii.
“Over the last several years, the TMT project has welcomed the support it has received from all sectors of the Hawaiian community, from education to cultural to business to labor,” said Sandra Dawson, TMT’s Manager of Hawaii Community Affairs. “We look forward to beginning construction and becoming a neighbor of the outstanding observatories on Mauna Kea.”
By now you should have heard… The approval made national and international news. The Hawai’i state Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) has granted final approval to the Conservation District Use Permit. This marks the end of the contested case hearing, essentially the final legal hurdle for construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
This occurs after years of moving through the approval process including dozens of hearings, public meetings, lawsuits, and more. This should be the last major legal challenge that the project will face. If everything goes to plan construction should break ground about this time next year. In the meantime a number of other processes may start, including geotechnical work and local staffing.
It is in reading the decision that you can learn much about the process. The news articles rarely cover anything beyond superficial details. The legal documents cover the arguments against building TMT atop Mauna Kea in great detail. The decision just published includes a legal response to all of the issues raised including references to each applicable statute and precedents.