TMT given until 2021 to begin construction atop Mauna Kea

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. David Ige today announced that the state has granted an extension of a key permit to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

This morning, at the request of TMT, the University of Hawaiʻi asked for a two-year extension of the Conservation District Use permit deadline for the initiation of construction. The Department of Land and Natural Resources granted this extension until Sept. 26, 2021. Under the current permit, work was put on hold because of the appeal at the Supreme Court.

“So they had less than a year to initiate construction. Based on that, we had no problem with their request and issued the extension,” said Chair Suzanne Case of BLNR.

Those against the TMT project said in a statement:
“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 increasingly 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.”

TMT issued this following 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.”

The governor has also rescinded the emergency proclamation that was issued on July 17, 2019 at this time, because there are no immediate plans to move heavy construction equipment.

“Because TMT construction is not imminent, I am withdrawing the emergency proclamation effective immediately. I remain committed to moving forward with this project in a peaceful way and will continue efforts to engage the community,” said Gov. Ige.

The governor noted that law enforcement officers will remain at the site for safety reasons.

“The presence of large numbers of people on the mountain creates significant hazards, especially in light of the potential bad weather,” said Gov. Ige.

The impending storm systems, Erick and Flossie also played a role in the withdrawal of the proclamation.

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