MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – On Monday, June 1st, the University of Hawaii issued its promised written response to Governor David Ige’s requests concerning stewardship of Mauna Kea, which were announced at a news conference on May 26. The governor’s intervention comes as construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea has been delayed due to strong opposition.
Over the past months the University of Hawaiʻi has received substantial input regarding our stewardship of Maunakea. Governor David Ige’s statement on May 26 is consistent with what we have heard from the community. We accept that the university has not yet met all of our obligations to the mountain or the expectations of the community. For that, we apologize and lay out this outline of an action plan for improving our stewardship. We will provide a more detailed schedule by July 2015 following additional consultations. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
Big Island Video News presents the governor’s requests and the UH responses, item by item, and will include statements from two of the main opponents to the Thirty Meter Telescope that were given after the governor’s news conference on May 26.
Mauna Kea Cultural Council
The governor is asking to create a new council that will apparently interface directly with the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
We will change the management of the entire summit, all of which is state land, to bring cultural voices into the leadership structure so that all acts from here forward are sensitive to and observant of culture. We are establishing a Mauna Kea Cultural Council to work with the Board and the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Governor’s Office, to do a better job. Among the tasks for this group will be the review of all leases and lease renewals, of all proposed rules impacting the mountain especially those relating to access, of any EIS preparation and any cultural impact assessments, of decommissioning plans and execution, working on leasing portions of the mountain to cultural groups, and the reconciliation of the various other uses of the mountain including native species protection and forestry.We are currently putting the group together and hope to make an announcement on that shortly. In asking people to be part of this work, I am not making support for TMT a requirement of those who agree to serve… (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
It remains to be seen how this group will be chosen, or who will be interested in serving on it. Response from TMT opponents has not been favorable.
There have been many advisory groups that have been established for Mauna Kea, and all have been nothing more than rubber-stamps for bad state government. We object to the creation of more of the same! It is outrageous to suggest that we the Hawaiian people should be used to limit access to Mauna Kea! (Mauna Kea Hui – May 26, 2015)
We also do not at all support the proposed establishment of yet another advisory council for the future of Mauna a Wākea and we call on the lāhui Hawaiʻi to boycott this advisory council. While we appreciate the thought, we find the idea of this council to be disingenuous. There already is an advisory council for Mauna a Wākea under the Office of Mauna Kea Management and their advice seems to fall upon deaf ears. Furthermore, over 90% of public testimony on this issue has been in opposition to the construction of the TMT on Mauna a Wākea and we have no reason to believe that the voices and beliefs of an advisory council would or should hold any more weight then those already shared by our community. The community has been clear in advising the state-no further development. (Ku Kia’i Mauna – May 26, 2015)
The university did not address this in their June 1st response, however they did mention their existing group of cultural advisors, Kahu Ku Mauna.
As we move forward, we commit to increased engagement and active listening with the community, particularly from Kahu Kū Mauna, which has provided sage advice and guidance. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
Lease & Sub-Lease Compliance
The governor apparently wants the university to clamp down on current observatories and tour companies.
We are also committed to doing a much better job of monitoring compliance with all activities under any leases or sub-leases, and to act immediately if there are issues that need resolution. Such action may include the reopening of current leases or the suspension of processing extension requests. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
UH Must Do Better
Although the university did not mention this request in their June 1st response, UH president David Lassner apologized on the same day as the govrnor’s news conference for where UH efforts have fallen short to date.
The University must begin by being very forthright and public in accepting its need to do a better job in the future. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
His first suggestion is that the state “accept its responsibility to do a better job in the future.” We would also like to see the state accept itʻs responsibility to do a better job now, and this begins with stopping any further development and desecration upon Mauna a Wakea. (Ku Kia’i Mauna – May 26, 2015)
TMT Site Will Be Last Area
The governor did not ask for TMT to be the last telescope, but he did ask for the northern plateau, the sire for the planned TMT, to be the last place developed for astronomy.
The University must formally and legally bind itself to the commitment that this is THE last area on the mountain where a telescope project will be contemplated or sought. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be the last new observatory site developed on Maunakea. Any new observatories may only be placed on existing sites. Both of these conditions are contained in the Decommissioning Plan for the Mauna Kea Observatories (PDF), approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources in 2010. The university will meet with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to draft a document to make this commitment legally binding. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
The governor addressed the call to take down unused or obsolete observatories, a step towards returning the summit to its natural state.
The University must decommission as many telescopes as possible with one to begin this year and a least 25% of all telescopes gone by the time TMT is ready for operation. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
On May 28, the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory announced it will end operations in September 2015. They will be the first observatory to implement the Decommissioning Plan for the Mauna Kea Observatories, and should complete the process by 2018. We are discussing with the directors of other observatories a definitive schedule of decommissioning of other observatories. We will meet with the director of DLNR this week to review the administrative process for decommissioning. By the end of 2015 we will present an implementation plan for the removal of 25 percent of the summit observatories and the restoration of the sites by the time TMT is ready for operation. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
Restart Lease EIS
The governor told the university to get back to the drawing board on its request to extend the Mauna Kea master lease.
The University must restart the EIS process for its lease extension including a full cultural impact assessment as part of that process. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
Over the past two months, we have heard many new ideas regarding the university’s master lease for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. We will restart the Environmental Impact Statement process for our new lease, enabling us to include additional options for consideration, and conduct a cultural impact assessment. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
In Igeʻs fourth suggestion, he calls for the need to restart the EIS process and conduct a full cultural impact assessment. Ige essentially acknowledged that there are flaws in the current EIS as well as no CIA, therefore it would be contradictory for him to support any further development on Mauna a Wākea. We call upon David Ige to put a halt on any further construction. (Ku Kia’i Mauna – May 26, 2015)
A request to limit access to the mountain in some way has recreational users and tour groups alike concerned.
Access rules that significantly limit and condition non-cultural access to the mountain must be moved expeditiously through the process. There is far too much routine access to this special place and it cannot continue to carry this burden. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
We have been consulting with community groups to develop administrative rules for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, including rules that would ensure cultural access while improving management of non-cultural access.
In June, we will begin a series of open house sessions for further public consultation and we will place particular attention on the scope of rules on access. We will have draft rules prepared by October 2015 to begin the formal public consultation phase of the rule making process. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
Its unclear if the governor had his proposed Mauna Kea Cultural Council in mind for this request, but it appears the university would like to have the OMKM Kahu Ku Mauna involved.
What I would hope to see is that future visitor access to the mountain be handled through the Native Hawaiian community so that visitors have a greater understanding of and respect for the cultural significance of the mountain. Anyone going on the mountain must receive training in the cultural aspects of the mountain and how to be respectful to the cultural areas. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
We will work with Kahu Kū Mauna and other Native Hawaiian advisors to develop new cultural training and educational programs about Maunakea. Training is currently required for people working on the mountain and we will look for opportunities for improvement. We will develop training and education programs for visitors to ensure that all who come to Maunakea understand its cultural significance and how to respect the mountain. To ensure our cultural training and education programs are accurate, effective and continuing, we will establish at UH Hilo a new program to lead and evaluate our expanded cultural stewardship and educational activities related to Maunakea. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
Reduce Length of Lease Extension
The university’s master lease expires in 2033, and right now they are going through the process of extended the lease. Its a critical step towards making the billion dollar TMT economically viable.
I am asking that the University substantially reduce the length of its request for a lease extension. We need to ensure that the stewardship of the mountain is revisited in an appropriate period and we all need to take another look at activities on the mountain in mid-century. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
The requested term of the new lease will be substantially less than a 65-year extension. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
The general lease is up in 2033, the University of Hawaii ends its involvement on Mauna Kea in 2033 not mid-century–not in 2050. All telescopes need to be removed in 2033 and until that time all telescopes operating on the summit and slopes need to pay “fair-market” lease rent starting immediately and for rent past due. (Mauna Kea Hui – May 26, 2015)
Return 10,000 acres to DLNR
This is already under consideration as the third alternative in the master lease EIS.
I am also asking the University to voluntarily return to full DLNR jurisdiction all lands not specifically needed for astronomy. This would involve over 10,000 acres and would allow for culture-based management of much of the mountain. This was an alternative proposed in their pending EIS document for their lease renewal request and would be a significant act of good faith in ensuring the proper balance of activities on the summit. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
We will consult with DLNR on how we can identify and return to their management lands that are currently part of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve that are not used for astronomy. We will accordingly modify our application for a new lease to reduce the total acreage that would be under university management. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
P.S. The 10,000 acres you claim will be return to the people already belongs tothe people of Hawai`i pursuant to the States Admission Act and the laws of the Kingdom of Hawai`i. (Mauna Kea Hui – May 26, 2015)
Ensure Full UH Use
This request has to do with astronomical observing time.
The University will ensure the full use of its scheduled telescope time. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
We confirm the university is making, and will continue to make, full use of its observing time at Maunakea observatories. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
Revisit Sub-Lease Payments
The sub-leases for the existing observatories have already been negotiated, so its unclear how the university might go about accomplishing this, other than addressing it in conjunction with the renewal of the master lease.
… I am asking the University to make a good faith effort to revisit the issue of greater payments by the existing telescopes now as well as requiring it in the new lease. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
We will discuss with our sublessees the level of their investments in the operational and stewardship costs for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve as well as sublease payments under a new master lease. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
TMT Increase Support To Native Hawaiian Students
The Thirty Meter Telescope already makes an annual contribution of $1 million to The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund, to “better prepare Hawaii Island students to master STEM and to become the workforce for higher paying science and technology jobs in Hawaii’s 21st century economy”. The fund is administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation and Pauahi Foundation. The governor wants TMT to consider giving more.
… I am asking the TMT leadership to significantly increase the level of support they are providing Native Hawaiian students interested in the areas of science and technology. This can include admission and scholarships at their own institutions or partner institutions. First priority would be for students on Hawai‘i Island and then to students statewide. (Governor David Ige – May 26, 2015)
The governor asked TMT to increase its support to Native Hawaiian students, particularly those from Hawaiʻi Island, who wish to pursue science and technology careers. UH recognizes its responsibilities in this area and we will launch a campaign for new scholarship programs for Hawaiʻi Island and Native Hawaiian students to increase their participation in the sciences. The university will allocate a portion of its observing time to UH Hilo for use in projects and programs to support greater participation and improved preparation of Hawaiʻi Island students for professional careers. (University of Hawaii – June 1, 2015)
This is commonly called a buyout. (Mauna Kea Hui – May 26, 2015)