MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – The University of Hawaii is confirming that the planned location for the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Northern Plateau of the Mauna Kea summit will be the “last new area on the mountain where a telescope project will be contemplated or sought.”
The statement was made by University of Hawaii President David Lassner in a letter to Department of Land and Natural Resources chair Suzanne Case dated November 17, 2015. Lassner wrote that the letter “shall constitute a legally binding commitment and may be regarded as a condition of the University of Hawaii’s current lease(s) and of any lease renewal or extension proposed by the University.”
The university issued a statement about the letter on Monday, saying the commitment “fulfills the second point of Governor David Ige’s 10-point ‘Way Forward’ plan that addresses future management and stewardship of Maunakea. UH has also fulfilled the third point of the plan, officially identifying three telescopes that will be decommissioned and permanently removed before TMT begins operations.” The letter also states no new observatories will be constructed on those sites.
Both sides of the TMT controversy are currently awaiting a ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court on an appeal of the TMT’s Conservation District Use Permit, granted by the state of Hawaii, allowing it to build on the mountain’s sensitive summit area.