(BIVN) – The Thirty Meter Telescope says the decision to open the Mauna Kea Access Road should not be predicated on the timing to start TMT construction, and added that Hawaiʻi government “has not demonstrated that they are able to provide safe, sustained access to Maunakea for everyone,” following today’s announcement that law enforcement will be standing down on the mountain.
Governor David Ige said his decision to remove state law enforcement and traffic barriers from the area by Puʻuhuluhulu, and the plan to reopen the Mauna Kea Access Road, was made after the TMT International Observatory told him the project is not ready to proceed at this time. Ige said the project is not leaving Hawaiʻi.
Dr. Gordon Squires, TMT Vice President for External Relations, provided this statement following the governor’s press conference:
“The decision to open the Mauna Kea Access Road should not be predicated on TMT’s timing to start construction. Maunakea access should be open to everyone. It’s a state road and hunters, hikers, locals looking to snow play, visitors, cultural practitioners, astronomers, commercial tour operators and stargazers should expect no less from State and County government.
“Over the last five months, we participated in frequent discussions with the State on finding a peaceful, lawful and non-violent way forward on Maunakea. We don’t want to put our workers, the people of Hawaii, and the protestors at risk. Unfortunately, the state and Hawaii County have not demonstrated that they are able to provide safe, sustained access to Maunakea for everyone. For us, this dates all the way back to our groundbreaking in October 2014 and subsequent attempts to begin construction in April and June 2015 and in July 2019.
“We are sensitive to the ongoing struggles of indigenous populations around the world, and we will continue to support conversations around TMT and the larger issues for which it has become a flashpoint. We are participating in private conversations with community leaders, but these conversations will take time.
“Maunakea remains our preferred site. The project and our individual partners are committed to moving forward in a manner that honors and supports our scientific goals, environmental stewardship and the traditions and culture of Hawaii.”