(BIVN) – Today, the State of Hawaiʻi granted a University of Hawaiʻi request to extend the Conservation District Use Permit deadline to start construction on the Thirty Meter Telescope, giving the observatory two more years to begin work on the project atop Mauna Kea.
The revised deadline is September 26, 2021.
During a press conference held Tuesday on Oʻahu, Governor David Ige also announced that he is withdrawing his emergency proclamation for Mauna Kea, because there are no immediate plans to move heavy equipment up the mountain at this time.
Ige said he is considering issuing an emergency proclamation ahead of the arrival of any impacts from Hurricanes Erick and Flossie, which are headed in the general direction of Hawaiʻi.
When asked if law enforcement plans to take action to clear the Mauna Kea Access Road, Ige said there are “no discussions about initiating additional arrests at this time,” and added that “state and county law enforcement will not initiate any violence to clear the road.”
Ige reflected on how the law enforcement found themselves in this position, admitting that at the beginning, the “number of protesters that appeared on the mountain were greater than anticipated,” Ige said, “so they halted activity.”
Ige said he speaks to Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim several times a day, adding that “we will continue to make efforts as long as we believe that we are making progress.”
Commenting on the visit he made to the base of Mauna Kea last week, Governor Ige said he “found it instructive to be able to speak and talk with protesters face to face,” and added that it gave him “an appreciation for their passion and commitment.”
UPDATE – TMT opponents, through Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu, issued the following statement in response to the governor’s announcement:
Today we celebrate a victory that reaffirms our resolve. Governor Ige has admitted that he underestimated our strength, unity, and broad public support. Our numbers continue to grow and his ability to oppose his own people is becoming less and less justifiable. Ige’s rescinding of the emergency proclamation illustrates how he can no longer claim that we are threatening public safety. We are the public.
We also celebrate Governor Ige’s adjusted timing. It’s a stall tactic. Governor Ige has been forced to lean on this tactic because he understands we are not stepping away from this struggle. It is a struggle that communities across Hawaiʻi have faced for far too long—our government agencies who are supposed to protect what our society values are instead skirting the law and acting on behalf of private corporate interests.
Our movement of aloha ‘āina has ignited not just Hawaiians but people worldwide who want to protect Hawaiʻi from self-serving, big-business.
We value Maunakea, our culture, and our unity. Protecting them is a struggle we are ready to sustain for as long as it takes.
UPDATE – The Thirty Meter Telescope, through spokesperson Scott Ishikawa, had this response to the governor’s announcement:
“The two-year extension to the CDUP was requested out of an abundance of caution because the project has been challenged on so many things. We continue to support the ongoing conversations around those issues that are larger than TMT and Maunakea. At the same time, it is important for us to get started as soon as possible.”