BEACON TRANSCRIPT – On Wednesday, Hawaii Court invalidated telescope permit based on which a thirty meter device would have been constructed.
TMT was planning invest $1.4 billion to build an observatory on the Mauna Kea peak. Mauna Kea represents a cultural icon of the state as well as the tallest mountain in Hawaii. Native Hawaiians have opposed the project since the beginning considering it a great offense as they believe the mountain is sacred.
They started protesting and several protests ended with property damage or arrests. Eventually, an emergency rule was enforced by the DLNR restricting the access to the mountain during the night.
The permit was given based on a rush decision before authorities could weigh the benefits and negative outcomes of such a project. Although the protestors were given the right to contest, the DLNR made the error of approving the permit before the hearing. Therefore, the ‘hearing’ turned into street protests. However, the protests were peaceful enough and not violent.
The reason scientists thought Mauna Kea would be the best place for the construction of an observatory is that it has a high altitude and low levels of pollution. Moreover, it seems that there are some air currents which clear out the skies so the view is secured from factors that might put astronomers in difficulty.
On the other hand, the protest of native Hawaiians are understandable as Mauna Kea is a natural place they’ve always been careful to protect. And now, to imagine a construction site on it was probably too much to bear. Plus, constructing an observatory would probably mean closing the entire area, so people will no longer be free to wonder that place.
TMT respects the Hawaii Supreme Court decision of revoking the permit but does not renounce to the idea of building their observatory with a thirty-meter telescope. As the decision of the court doesn’t prohibit another permit application, TMT is probably looking for ways to make their project and offer more appealing to Hawaiian citizens.
For now, Mauna Kea is clear and no telescope is going to change the natural scene, but TMT is still close and looking for a loophole that will allow them to build their much-wanted observatory.
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