Judge rules in favor of TMT project


Third Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura ruled in favor of the Thirty Meter Telescope project Wednesday.

Nakamura based his decision off four points, including one that found the Board of Land and Natural Resources’ approval of a conservation district land use permit for the University of Hawaii at Hilo prior to holding a contested case hearing did not warrant reversal of the decision or order.

The TMT is a joint project between universities in California and Canada and research institutions in China, India and Japan. Officials hope to begin construction on the $1.3 billion telescope on Mauna Kea this year and start operations in 2021.

Kealoha Pisciotta, president of Native Hawaiian group Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, one of the six petitioners involved in the case, made the following statement on behalf of the hui opposed to the project:

“We’re disappointed. We intend to appeal. It’s hard to accept that the judge could agree with the university that a project like TMT wouldn’t have adverse and significant impact when the university admits it would. We’re ready to go. We’re ready go to the higher courts.”

Sandra Dawson, TMT spokeswoman, said she heard of the ruling around 1 p.m. Wednesday.

“We’re very happy about the ruling. We are happy that we followed the process every step of the way,” she said. “This was done in collaboration with great support from this island,” she said.

However, Pisciotta said the fight isn’t over.

“We’ve been doing court because court is the legitimate practice when you’re in a democracy and law-abiding place and because we’ve done that they haven’t been able to build for many, many years. We really do want the court to review the whole record. So that’s why we have to keep moving, we have to keep going. … Sacredness isn’t for sale. We have to keep fighting for it,” Pisciotta said.

Email Megan Moseley at mmoseley@hawaiitribune-herald.com.