(BIVN) – During the January 24 informational briefing on the Thirty Meter Telescope held at the State Capitol, Hawaiʻi state senators wanted to know just as much about the plan to take the observatory off Mauna Kea, as the plan to build it there.
Chairing the meeting of the joint Senate Committee on Water and Land, Committee on Higher Education, and Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs, Senator Kai Kahele referred to the recent Hawaiʻi Supreme Court decision upholding the land board’s approval of a conservation district use permit for the TMT project.
Sen. Kahele read this footnote from the court’s majority opinion:
[Finding Of Fact] 360 states that “TIO has already received substantial funds and will undertake additional fundraising efforts once a decision has been made as to the project approval.” Although the BLNR addressed funding of decommissioning after completion, it is unclear whether other than an agreement from TIO to perform, the BLNR has adequately ensured that buildings or equipment will not be left behind and the areas used by TMT will be restored in the event full funding is not obtained for completion of construction or insufficient funds for decommissioning are available. Its duties as trustee require that it do so. The BLNR has discretion under Special Condition 43 to impose “[o]ther terms and conditions” on the CDUP. Therefore, the BLNR should ensure that the areas used by TMT will be restored to their natural states at no cost to the State, whether through requiring an appropriate performance bond or through imposing funding and/or other requirements.
“So, one of the concerns of the Supreme Court was that the Thirty Meter Telescope project does not have full funding for the project,” Sen. Kahele said, pointing out that other agencies’ have required full funding prior to starting construction, “to ensure that the project is built to the completion.”
“Is that something that you’re considering?” Kahele asked.
“The TMT is obligated to the decommissioning plan,” answered Office of Mauna Kea Management director Stephanie Nagata. “So, if they should stop construction, as you mentioned, they are obligated to decommission.”