HONOLULU – The Mauna Kea Hui took a trip to Oahu on Monday to deliver a petition signed by 53,000 people to Hawaii’s governor calling for an end to the Thirty Meter Telescope project. While there, the group planned to hold a press conference with Honolulu media. The Hui also shared their prepared statement electronically.
In their statement, reportedly delivered by Kealoha Pisciotta – named as the primary spokesperson for the Mauna Kea Hui and Mauna Kea ‘Ohana – the group thanked Governor David Ige for certain aspects of his April 17th statement announcing the further posponement of construction of the $1.4 billion TMT. However, the Hui is also pushing the governor to intervene on behalf of the 31 who were arrested on the mountain on April 2. The group is also calling into question the nomination of Doug Chin for State Attorney General “because of his deeply troubling conflict of interest in the adjudication of our Mauna Kea appeals.” (details below)
Aloha. Mahalo for coming to this press conference and for all your diligence and hard work in reporting this evolving and momentous story now unfolding in Hawaiʻi.
First, let me say that we are deeply moved and gratified by the overwhelming public support we’ve received from throughout the archipelago and across the globe—from people of all ethnicity in Hawaiʻi and people from many countries and cultures around the world. Aloha Nui…Aloha Nui!
In regard to Governor David Ige’s April 17 statement on the TMT controversy, we want to thank the Governor and his staff for acknowledging—and respecting—the Mauna Kea Hui’s right to appeal through our court system wrongful decisions made by the State, and in so doing seeking justice.
We also appreciate the Governor’s recognition of two important tasks ahead: the decommissioning and removal of older telescopes “to restore the summit” of our sacred mountain—something we’ve long called for—and “reducing the level of activity on the summit,” which now bustles with intrusive observatory traffic and commercial tour operators. Aloha Nui…Aloha Nui!
We called this Press Conference, however, to address some of our continued concerns:
To deliver our Protect Mauna Kea petition now with over 53,000 thousand signatures signed by Mauna Kea Supporters from Hawai`i and beyond…
First, we flew from Hawai`i Island to deliver to Governor Ige our Protect Mauna Kea Petition that has over 53,000 signatures of Mauna Kea supporters from Hawai`i and beyond. The Petition count is still rolling and will continue to roll. What these signatures show is that there is an awakening …awakening of Aloha and it is far reaching. The awakening not just a Hawaiian issue or a local issue it is a global issues—and it is not about us versus them—or even about winning or losing. It is about re-visioning how we want to live in the world—we are the children of Papahānaumoku (Earth Mother) and Wakea (Sky Father) and we want to live in harmony within our world and to do this we must change the way we live for our children and our children’s children so they will have a place on Earth and a future. This is Aloha `Aina!
We’re asking Governor Ige to intervene on behalf of the Mauna Kea 31
Second, we are distressed that the Governor in his April 17 message said nothing about our brothers and sisters—the Mauna Kea 31—who were arrested on April 2 trying to protect their mountain from further desecration. These people are scheduled to be arraigned on various charges on April 28 and May 7. We call on the Governor to intervene on behalf of the protectors by insisting that enforcement officials of his own Department of Land and Natural Resources drop the charges, and by asking the Hawaiʻi County Prosecutor to do the same.
Labeling as criminal those peaceful acts of civil assistance (not disobedience, in that we were preventing the TMT construction workers from committing the crime of desecration under HRS 711-1107), and acts done out of love to protect the mountain, insults Hawaiʻi’s long traditions of aloha, compassion, and respect. What is perhaps most egregious is that these acts of protection are being so labelled in order to protect a special interest corporation from California and abroad.
Governor Ige’s Attorney General appointment has a Mauna Kea conflict of interest.
We called this press conference to ask the Governor to withdraw his nomination of Mr. Doug Chin for State Attorney General because of his deeply troubling conflict of interest in the adjudication of our Mauna Kea appeals. He was the managing partner of the law firm Carlesmith Ball LLP, the very law firm that is representing the University of Hawai’i and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT Project) in our current lawsuits. This is completely unreasonable and sends a message that nothing has changed and it is business as usual—a position you have tried to change. Now is that time for that change Mr. Ige. We call on you to withdraw Doug Chin’s appointment or to appoint a special Deputy AG who does not have such a conflict to review the Mauna Kea situation. Because Mr. Ige, this simply will not work.
Aloha and MahaloMs. Kealoha Pisciotta, primary spokesperson for the Mauna Kea Hui and Mauna Kea ‘Ohana
Here are the contents of the letter submitted to the Governor by Mauna Kea Hui dated April 1, 2015:
The Honorable Governor David Y. Ige
Governor, State of Hawai’i
Honolulu, Hawai’i 96813
April 1, 2015
Aloha Pumehana Governor Ige,
We reach out to you in your capacity as the highest executive authority in Hawai’i. We come to you with urgency in our hearts to ask for your help to protect the most revered place in our beloved archipelago, our highest mountaintop and land of our Akua, which is Mauna Kea. Specifically, we ask you to void the Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP HA-3568) and TMT Sublease issued by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), an any related permits allowing construction to proceed. There are several ongoing legal appeals regarding this project; one of the cases is now before the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA). While the University recently requested a time extension to delay this hearing, the TMT International Observatory LLC continues to move ahead with construction. Two other appeals pertaining to the TMT Sublease are still pending in the Third Circuit Court.
Our request to you is urgent. In spite of our court appeals, culminating years of legal effort on our part, bulldozers and other heavy equipment now assemble on the mountaintop to begin construction of this massive, eighteen-story-high facility-in shameful disrespect for Hawai’i’s legal process, host culture and all law-abiding citizens of Hawai’i. Is it any wonder that Hawaiians and community members, out of respect for the legal process and in defense of their oldest and deepest traditions-have gathered in protest on the mountain?
This is the second time we have sought your help; our previous letter was hand delivered to your office on January 21 to convey to you a list of our concerns about BLNR’s past violations of the public trust and their failure to protect Mauna Kea in accordance with the law. These are problems that you did not create, but for which you now have kuleana – and that you can now make pono (righteous) through executive action.
Please see the attached list with the “Top Reasons for the Immediate Halting of TMT Construction” and attached map of historic and cultural sites on Mauna Kea. We’re sorry that you have inherited BLNR’s decades-long failure to follow the laws and regulations that protect Mauna Kea, the legal rights of native Hawaiians and Hawai’i’s citizenry, but that also means that you can finally set things right.
In Aloha we remain,
Kama Hula Paul K. Neves
Clarence Ka Ching
Debbie J. Ward
The Flores-Case ‘Ohana
Jon Osorio (KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance)
Kealoha Pisciotta (Mauna Kea Anaina Hoa)
Signed by the six Mauna Kea Hui Litigants and Supporters for the Protection of Mauna Kea
Here is the attached list with the “Top Reasons for the Immediate Halting of TMT Construction” according to the Hui:
Top Reasons for the Immediate Halting of TMT Construction
Submitted to Governor David Ige April 1, 2015
The TMT project cannot legally meet the eight criteria for construction (i.e. Land Use) in The Mauna Kea Conservation District. There is no legal way to waive this requirement, nor any exception to it. Requirements include the following, amongst others (Quoted from HAR §13-5-30, emphasis added):
– The proposed land use will not cause substantial adverse impact to existing natural resources within the surrounding area, community or region;
– The existing physical and environmental aspects of the land, such as natural beauty and open space characteristics, will be preserved or improved upon,
– The proposed land use will not be materially detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare.
Both the UH/TMT Corporation and BLNR admit the TMT project will cause adverse, significant and substantial impact to the cultural and natural resources at Mauna Kea. Considering this, the TMT project is in clear violation of the law. The State of Hawai‘i is likewise in very serious violation, for allowing this illegal project to proceed.
BLNR acted improperly in issuing both the CDUP and the Consent to Begin. BLNR was fully aware that the TMT cannot meet the legal requirements of a Conservation District. BLNR thereby went directly against its own mandate of natural resource protection in issuing the CDUP. Unfortunately, the only explanation possible for these actions by those mandated to protect the land and natural resources is institutionalized corruption on the part of the previous administration. Unless these permits are revoked immediately, the new administration will prove itself deeply corrupt as well. You are fully aware that there are pending lawsuits in the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) challenging the TMT project. In a civil society the courts are the arbitrators of all questions of law. Legal questions are not resolved, so the TMT Corporation should not be moving ahead. The BLNR was also fully aware of these legal challenges when it issued the consent to begin without waiting for the court to rule. To highlight this incredible wrongdoing, the University of Hawai‘i just requested an extension of time in the ICA court – an attempt to stall the court’s review of the case, just as TMT bulldozers were beginning to roll. The Governor must stop this wrongdoing now.
The TMT is desecrating at a criminal level. The legal definition of desecration in Hawaii is that it will cause “outrage” in a certain segment of the population (HRS 7-11-1107). Burials, monuments, and places of worship are all specifically named as affording special protection from this crime, which warrants serious penalties, including imprisonment and substantial fines. No legal exceptions exist. As you must know, Mauna Kea has literally hundreds of sacred sites, including over 34 burials, some containing multiple bodies. Hawaii Loa, Lilinoe, and living people’s grandparents have all been laid to rest in undisclosed locations within this area. Harm to Mauna Kea therefore succinctly meets the definition of criminal desecration. Clearly, the illegal construction of an 18-story structure, complete with excavation of a sacred area and use of toxic chemicals in great quantity, violates this statute. The State is currently complicit in this violation, by allowing construction to proceed.
The University of Hawai’i is abusing its management authority. Earlier this week, we were informed that the University of Hawai‘i closed the Mauna Kea Summit Road due to “weather” considerations, purportedly for safety reasons, and then immediately proceeded to facilitate the bringing in of heavy earth-moving equipment for TMT construction. This is only one example of such abuse, which has spanned many, many incidents. UH is the primary violator of environmental and cultural statutes on Mauna Kea. As such, it has absolutely no right to play an enforcement role of any kind. The State of Hawai‘i, including the Governor’s office and DLNR, are complicit in this abuse as long as you continue to allow UH to exercise management authority over these lands.
DLNR is not enforcing the law, as it is reguired to do, but facilitating environmental violations instead. DLNR, not UH, has the enforcement authority in a Conservation District. This authority cannot be transferred. Until such time as the greater issues regarding the legality of the State itself are resolved, DLNR has the responsibility to stop violators, such as those currently operating bulldozers in the Conservation District while court proceeds. It is no secret that destructive construction, and not environmental or cultural protection, is the University’s primary objective on Mauna Kea. Therefore, DLNR’s shrugging off of enforcement duties to those known violators is truly a criminal act. The Office of the Governor is part of this crime, unless this is stopped immediately.
BLNR’s consent of the TMT Sublease was in violation of State and US constitutional and statutory provisions. These violations of State and Federal laws have resulted in the State along with its agencies and agents not protecting the interests of the public land trust, its beneficiaries, and the traditional and customary rights of Native Hawaiians. Instead, the business interests of the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory LLC, a Delaware company based in California, have overridden the citizens’
interest in these public lands.
Many, many other reasons for an immediate halt to any construction on Mauna Kea exist as well. These have been repeated numerous times, and it is this administration’s duty to understand them, and take action accordingly. More information can be found at the following websites: http://goo.gl/fESxH8 (TMT info from kahea.org), and http://protectmaunakea.tumblr.com/ (online photo march showing community support for protection of Mauna Kea). If further information is needed, please contact Kealoha Pisciotta immediately. However, Mauna Kea cannot wait for information gathering at this point. You know what is needed. Please STOP TMT CONSTRUCTION NOW.