Ige Calls Off Mauna Kea Emergency Proclamation

The governor says a permit extension means construction does not have to begin until 2021.

Gov. David Ige Tuesday called off an emergency proclamation he issued two weeks ago to get construction started on the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, saying the arrival of storms on the Big Island will postpone construction anyway.

Ige said there are “no immediate plans to move heavy equipment” because two Pacific hurricanes headed towards Hawaii would make it hard to start construction.

Via: Civil Beat

Ige also announced that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources approved a two-year extension so that construction on the TMT would not have to start until September 2021.

Gov. Ige at press conference Tuesday announcing the end of his emergency proclamation

Suzanne Case, chairwoman of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, said that the use of the department’s law enforcement force on the mountain is impacting operations elsewhere.

“They can’t do the rest of their job when they have to deal with protesters blocking the road,” she said.

TMT had until Sept. 26 to begin construction to comply with the conditional use permit from DLNR. However, TMT lawyers have argued that they already began construction in 2015 when they started grading.

That work was done under an old permit which was invalidated by the state Supreme Court. Case says that the department didn’t consider past work when it decided to extend the new permit, which was granted in 2017.

Protests against the construction of TMT on Mauna Kea have stretched into the third week. TMT construction could take about a decade, and protest leaders said they plan to hold out that long.

TMT also has no plans to move the telescope, though they have selected a site on La Palma in the Canary Islands as an alternative.

The number of protesters swelled from the hundreds in early July into the thousands last weekend.

Protests began July 15, the day construction was scheduled to begin. That morning, a group of the protesters, who call themselves the protectors of Mauna Kea, strapped themselves to a cattle guard.

Days later, 38 people were arrested and issued citations for blocking Mauna Kea Access Road.

In a court declaration, state Department of Transportation Deputy Director Ed Sniffen said that the protests have blocked access for construction vehicles like diggers and rock trucks.

Ige declared an emergency proclamation over Mauna Kea lands on July 14 in an effort to get construction started. That emergency order was being challenged in the courts.

Last week, Ige asked Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim to take the lead on finding a peaceful resolution.

Kim said during a Monday news conference that he plans to continue discussions with Native Hawaiian leaders to find a way forward.

This is a developing story. Check Civil Beat later for more updates.

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