(BIVN) – There will be no court injunction on the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, a Hilo judge ruled on Friday, as the legal dispute over the TMT bond issue had another day in court.
“We’re very pleased at the judge’s ruling today,” said TMT spokesperson Scott Ishikawa. “Basically he dismissed the opponent’s case and said that the construction could continue.”
The plaintiffs – Kealoha Pisciotta of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Paul Neves, Clarence Ku Ching, Kaliko Kanaele, Cindy Freitas, William Freitas, and Lanny Alan Sinkin – filed the petition over “UH and TMT’s failure to ensure” that the TMT project had “posted a security bond in the amount of the full cost of the project ($1.4 – $2 billion dollars) as the Mauna Kea Plan Of 1977 requires.”
On July 23, Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura denied a petition for a temporary restraining order to halt construction of the observatory on Mauna Kea.
“Basically, the judge made two rulings,” said Lanny Sinkin outside the courthouse. “One was that the 1977 master plan, which we had argued requires a bond be posted by TIO, the telescope people, that that was adjudicated in the contested case itself and that that’s resolved and cannot be relitigated. So that was his ruling on the ’77 plan.”
“The arguments from the opponents was that based on a 1977 Mauna Kea management plan, a security bond was needed,” Ishikawa said, “but our side, our attorneys, were arguing that there’s been updated management plans that supersedes that and that is what they based their case on.”
“Judge Nakamura went with our argument today,” Ishikawa said.
TMT opponents are now focusing their efforts on what Sinkin said was the second issue: “Whether the the DLNR has a fiduciary obligation as a trustee of public lands to ensure that they aren’t left with a bill for an abandoned project,” he said. “So should the BLNR be required to post a bond, separate from the 1977 plan, but based on the public trust doctrine?”
Judge Nakamura’s ruling on that, Sinkin said, was “interesting question. Take it to BLNR and ask them if they will impose a bond based on their public trust doctrine obligations, and if they say no, then you can come back,” and see the judge again.
“But you need to exhaust your administrative remedies, that’s a sort of standard legal thing,” Sinkin said. “We filed the petition today. We knew what he was going to rule yesterday, so we prepared the petition early this morning and filed it with the BLNR attorneys. So we’ve started our clock in terms of at least having initiated the process. We’ll see how quickly they respond.”