Update, 28 September, 4:40 p.m.: Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources today voted 5-2 to approve a permit to build the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The vote follows retired judge Riki May Amano’s recommendation this past July to approve the permit. Amano’s recommendation came after a lengthy and often contentious hearing forced by opponents of the TMT, who successfully argued that the land board had not followed proper procedures in 2011 in issuing its first permit for the telescope.
The board placed 43 conditions on the permit, including a previously negotiated plan requiring the University of Hawaii to decommission three existing telescopes atop Mauna Kea, where the TMT is to be built, and barring any future telescopes on the mountain. In a statement, Suzanne Case, chair of the board, said: “This was one of the most difficult decisions this Board has ever made. The members greatly respected and considered the concerns raised by those opposed to the construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve.”
TMT opponents tell ScienceInsider that they will appeal the decision. Kealoha Pisciotta, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner and a plaintiff in the case against the TMT permit, said she believed the board had rubber-stamped the permit, and the decision seemed like a foregone conclusion. “They did not deliberate. They did not properly consider or take into account the evidence,” she said.