The UH Board of Regents made big “TAH-DAH!” over approving their giant Thirty Meter Telescope project for Mauna Kea this summer. Plenty press releases, plenty press. KAHEA staff tend to kind of shrug over this kind of “approval”, but after hearing so many comments and questions from all of you, we decided we should address it. Fundamental question: WHY is the Board of Regents approving TMT?
The term “manufacturing consent” comes to mind. Hmm.
Okay, let’s say for example, that Kanoe and Tyler want to build a parking lot in your front yard. Kanoe writes the proposal. Tyler votes to approve her proposal, and sends out a press release saying “Parking lot approved!” And your neighbors think, “”My, my. There’s going to be a parking lot over there.” Now, did you get any say about this parking lot? Nope! Does it matter? Of course it does.
A little tutorial on developing conservation lands, and looking good while doing it:
Mauna Kea is public trust “ceded lands” and a conservation district. This means that the mountain is to be managed “in trust” for the people of Hawai’i, and that its natural and cultural resources are to be protected and sustained. Under state law, the responsibility for managing these lands falls to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). DLNR does not financially benefit directly from development of Mauna Kea, and it is the agency with the mandate under state law to protect and conserve these lands.
Today, the University Board of Regents appoints 100% of members to the Office of Mauna Kea Management. The Regents appoint 100% of the members of Kahu Ku Mauna. The University paid the consultant who wrote the management plan for Mauna Kea. At the end of the day, we have to ask: Who’s interests are being represented? Who is being left out?
So many have worked so hard and sacrificed so much, to get us to where we are today. Twenty years ago, the University and the UH Institute for Astronomy could not and would not even acknowledge the existence of clear problems. Two lawsuits and two state audits later, we can finally openly acknowledge past wrongs, and talk about impacts of astronomy development on cultural and natural resources. Not just on Mauna Kea, but Hawai’i’s other sacred summits as well.
But without true change in management (!), it’s just that: talk.
If you support true community management of Hawai’i’s sacred summits, you can join with the thousands of others around Hawai’i who are saying “Enough already” and demand a truly pono future for some of Hawai’i’s most sacred places. Sign the petition today!