8 Acres? 18 Stories? TMT? A'ole.

Posted by miwa@kahea.org at Feb 18, 2011 01:00 PM |
The TMT Corporation and the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents are proposing a massive new telescope for Mauna Kea, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Learn more about this proposed development.
8 Acres? 18 Stories? TMT? A'ole.

18 stories, 20 feet. Attribution: Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation

UPDATE (2/25/11) Bulldozers for this massive development stopped! For now. The construction permit for the massive Thirty Meter Telescope complex was considered by the Board of Land and Natural Resources on February 25, 2011.  They said "no bulldozers" until a full appeal -- known as a contested case contested -- is complete. Read more >

What's going on:  The TMT Corporation and the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents are proposing to build a new massive, 18-story telescope, 21,000 square foot office building, road, and parking lot on conservation lands and "ceded" crown lands on Mauna Kea’s summit, called the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

Wrong for the mountain: Mauna Kea is unique in the world, a place of deep significance in the Hawaiian worldview, and home to rare Hawaiian plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet. Mauna Kea was honored among the sacred places of the world in a National Geographic (January 2011) Special Edition titled, “The Earth’s Holiest Places: Sacred Journeys.”

What's next: The construction permit for the massive Thirty Meter Telescope complex was considered by the Board of Land and Natural Resources on February 25, 2011.  They said "no bulldozers" until a full appeal -- known as a contested case -- is complete.

Take Action! Join your voice with hundreds around Hawai'i!  We asking the Land Board reject this permit application, and take true, strong steps to protect the future of Mauna Kea. You can join in action today by signing this petition in support of Hawai'i's sacred summits:



Pu`u on Mauna Kea, covered in snow.

More Information

In their own words, from the EIS and CDUA prepared by the developers:

How big is the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Development?
-   184 ft. tall (18 stories), plus 20 ft. below ground 
-   Telescope: 34,000 sq. ft. 
-   Support and office building: 21,000 sq. ft. 
-   Will excavate 64,000 cubic yards of summit area 
-   Will add 3,400 ft of new road, using excavated dirt to level it 
-   Construction footprint: over 8 acres disturbed 
-   Completed structure footprint: over 5 acres 
-   Average American football field is 1.32 acres

What impact will it have?
-   Construction proposed for the northern plateau, some of the last undeveloped area on the summit 
-   Structure will interrupt viewplane to Haleakalā 
-   Will be visible from 14% of the island, including Waimea Park, Pu'u Kapu & Wa'awa'a, Honoka'a, & Pu'ukohalā 
-   Current telescopes are visible from 43% of the island 
-   Telescope operations will create 74 dbA of noise 
-   Will produce 120-250 cubic feet of solid waste a week 
-   Will use 5,000 gallon underground tank to store hazardous chemicals
-  Road will require additional construction on Pu'u Kūkahau'ula.

The Final EIS for the project admits that telescope construction has had a substantial adverse impact on the natural and cultural resources of the conservation district on the summit.  Here is a link to the developers' description of the TMT: www.tmt.org.

Done Deal?

Of course, the University Board of Regents sees the proposal as a done deal, and would like us to believe it too.  The developers of this project have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a massive PR campaign, assuring us that TMT will have little impact on the summit and that past problems with resource management have been fixed--all hunky dory.  But we know that this is not so.

The Scoops

The simple truth is that the law doesn't allow for the TMT to built.  Hawaii Administrative Rules section 13-5 (page 5-21) outlines eight criteria that must be met before the Board can allow construction in a conservation district, like Mauna Kea.

Eight Criteria

The most telling for us are the middle three criteria, which are:

4. The proposed land use will not cause substantial adverse impact to existing natural resources within the surrounding area, community, or region;

5. The proposed land use, including buildings, structures and facilities, shall be compatible with the locality and surrounding areas, appropriate to the physical conditions and capabilities of the specific parcel or parcels;

6. The existing physical and environmental aspects of the land, such as natural beauty and open space characteristics, will be preserved or improved upon, whichever is applicable;

The TMT can't satisfy these criteria.  This development (18 stories, 8 acre construction footprint) is huge, and would multiply industrial land use on Mauna Kea, forever altering the natural beauty and sacred vista of the northern plateau.

Construction will impact fragile habitats of native plants and animals found only on Mauna Kea, with no guarantee of restoration when the lease term ends, in a mere 22 years.

Uphold the Law!

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) must be approved by the Hawai'i Board of Land and Natural Resources (Land Board) before any bulldozers can be sent up the mountain. We are asking Land Board Members to uphold the law, reject this permit application, and take true, strong steps to protect the future of Mauna Kea.

A Better Future is Possible

The mountain, and the people, have already suffered forty years of unjust, unlawful industrial development. Mauna Kea is conservation lands, public trust lands, and "ceded" crown lands. Mauna Kea is wahi pana, wao akua, dwelling of Wākea, home of Poli'ahu, and beloved of Līlīnoe.

We are asking for simple, common sense solutions for Mauna Kea, including: independent management (where developers do not approve their own projects), appropriate limits on development footprint based on study of summit carrying capacity, and appropriate compensation to the people of Hawai`i for past development, desecration and habitat loss.

What You Can Do

1. Sign the petition and spread the word at: https://www.change.org/p/governor-david-y-ige-stop-tmt-construction-and-arrests-of-mauna-kea-protectors

2. Download and share the updated and printable TMT fact sheet: TMT factsheet

3. Download and share the Mauna Kea fact sheet  on Scribd.

4. Make a gift. Together with community members of the Mauna Kea hui,  we need to raise funds for legal fees and other costs associated with travel to participate in hearings and to publicize legal efforts and results.  We have won before in court, and will do it again, with your kokua (help). You can make a tremendous difference by giving today.

Learn More and Stay Connected

Learn more about efforts to protect Hawai'i's sacred summits on the KAHEA website.

We'll keep you posted! If you'd like to receive email updates and alerts on this development proposal, you can email Shelley Muneoka at shelley@kahea.org and ask to be added to the list.

Other Resources

A few other resources on the TMT Project and the decades-long struggle on Mauna Kea's summit.

Science and Culture Clash on Sacred Mountain, LA Times

KAHEA Comments on TMT CDUA

Mauna Kea Hui Comments on TMT CDUA

Permit Application to DLNR (CDUA) for TMT (63 MB), or view CDUA on Scribd

Documents and Resources on Hawai'i's Sacred Summits

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