Amid protests and petitions concerning the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), the University of Hawai‘i will decommission as many telescopes as possible beginning this year, Gov. David Ige said during a press conference today.
“UH must do a better job of its stewardship of the mountain,” he said during the conference.
The next steps for Mauna Kea include changing the management of the summit by bringing cultural voices into the leadership structure.
In addition to decommissioning telescopes, Ige also requested that UH restart its environmental impact statement process and formally commit that the area where the TMT will be built is the last area where a telescope will be sought.
The university was also asked to reduce the length of its lease extension request and return all lands not specifically needed for astronomy to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) – which is about 10,000 acres.
Ige said the university will next set a schedule for completing his requests, an action that should be done as soon as possible.
In a press conference earlier today, UH President David Lassner said the university agrees that it can do better and the governor’s requested actions are consistent with what the university has heard from the public.
The university expects to issue a more comprehensive statement later this week.
Failing the mountain
“We have not done right by a very special place, and we must act immediately to change that,” Ige said.
A Mauna Kea cultural council will be created that will work with the current board, DLNR and governor’s office. This group will be in charge of reviewing leases and lease renewals, rules impacting the mountain and cultural impact assessments.
According to Ige, the TMT went through the correct process and has a right to continue with construction. However, he also acknowledged the right to protest this action.