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Posts Tagged ‘mauna kea’

A few weeks ago, the TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) Corporation submitted their application for a Conservation District Use Permit for their proposed telescope development, and accompanying office building, road and parking lot. If approved, this development will represent the largest expansion of industrial land use on Mauna Kea’s summit in 15 years. You can download the application here: http://bit.ly/cbxmTr

Public hearings on the TMT permit application will be held on December 2 (Hawaii County Council Room, Hilo) and December 3 (NELHA Gateway Center). More hearing info at:  http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/occl/hearings-workshops

We’re still reading through the documents, and we’ll be back with our comments and analysis soon. In the meantime, we wanted to share 3 facts, and 3 questions about the current paradigm of managment and decision-making on Mauna Kea:

– There exists a Mauna Kea Management Board, which is supposed to be like a community management entity. It is comprised of seven members of the community who are nominated by the UH Hilo Chancellor and approved by the UH Board of Regents. (see http://www.malamamaunakea.org/?page_id=80) UH appoints 100% of the
members of this Management Board, while at the same time benefiting financially from accelerated telescope development, in what they claim to be a “correct and representative” process.

– Mauna Kea is currently being leased and subleased for $1/year. (Some of the sub-leases are gratis!) Hawaii law (HRS 171) says that “ceded” lands (crown lands) must be leased for fair-market value. We know that telescope “viewing time” can go for at least $80,000/night (this is what Yale recently agreed to pay in a $12 million dollar deal with the
Keck Observatory) http://opa.yale.edu/news/article.aspx?id=6437. How is $1/year fair-market value for the years of development that has already taken place? We are now being asked to consider further development, under an existing economic paradigm which does not conform to the law.

– No study has ever been conducted to assess the carrying capacity of the mountain for development. Further, the only cummulative study on the impacts of past development (an EIS conducted by NASA in 2005, as a result of litigation by OHA) found the cummulative impacts of telescope development on Mauna Kea to be “significant, substantial and adverse.” Hawaii state law prohibits permits for projects in conservation districts that cause significant and adverse harm.

Three Questions:
(1) What is the carrying capacity of the summit for development? How can we know, unless we study it?
(2) How intensely can we industrialize in the conservation district, before its meaning and purpose as conservation lands is lost?
(3) Are the current “economics” of telescope development ($1/year leases) leading to optimal allocation of resources between astronomy and cultural and natural resources? Who wins? Who loses?

*Take action for Mauna Kea and protection of Hawai`i’s sacred summits today! Sign the petition at: http://bit.ly/petitionsacredsummits

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Big MAHALO to Christen Marquez for hosting a screening of Na Maka o Ka Aina‘s Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege film. Christen is herself a film maker and Miwa met her on a trip to LA while giving a presentation on what’s been going on Mauna a Wakea.  Check out Christen’s facebook page with info about her film here.  Check out her blog for more about the screening.  Mahalo to everyone who came out to learn more and to  all who signed the petition.  It’s awesome to know we have hoa aina across the big blue sea. 🙂

If you are interested in holding a screening of your own, please email me at  shelley@kahea.org.

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Aloha `ohana,

Last week Wednesday, a group of about 25 or 30 people came together for a screening of the film Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege from Puhipau and Joan at Na Maka o ka Aina. Mahalo also to Native Books/Na Mea Hawai`i for hosting us, to Rey for mixing the `awa for us, and to Kamu and Miwa for running back to downtown at the last moment to bring the TV from our office!

Mahalo to Rey for providing the kanoa and to everybody at Na Mea for hosting us!

Despite the technical difficulties the audience graciously and patiently hung in there! Uncle Ku shared about the huaka`i (trips) that their Mauna Kea have been taking.  It is so inspiring to see how much ground they’ve covered! It is so important for us to, both figuratively and in this case physically, walk the path of our ancestors.

Uncle Tane, Uncle Baron, and Uncle Ku--awesome mana`o, mahalo for sharing! 🙂

Far too often culture and tradition are relegated to the past, with all modern day iterations appearing either as museum displays, placards or reenactments.  I think physically having our feet on the dirt does something to us–it was really beautiful to hear about their journeys and rediscovery together.  My favorite story was about their journey in 2003 on Ka La Hoihoi Ea (a Hawaiian National holiday commemorating the return of sovereignty after a short occupation by a British dude named Lord Paulet).

The simple act of honoring this day is cool in itself, but in 2003 the Mauna Kea Hui hiked to the summit with our national flags to raise them at the highest peak in the archipelago.  The pictures look super windy! What powerful images on so many levels!

If you’d be interested in hosting a screening of this film, email shelley@kahea.org  We only have a limited number of DVDs to lend out, but we do want to share the message as much as we can.

Also, here is a link to the online petition, please feel free to pass this link along far and wide.  We are in the process of getting a new website up, but this one will have to do for a couple more months! E kala mai!

Mahalo to Pono Kealoha for documenting this event! 🙂

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We’re liking this thought-proving post from journalist Anne Minard, on the “next great telescope race”–Day 14 of her “100 Days of Science.” She asks some great questions about the fundamental purpose of the two U.S. proposals for “next generation” giant land-based telescopes being proposed for construction within the next 10 years. Do we really need THIS much telescope, guys?

Charles Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, acknowledged that the two telescopes are headed toward redundancy. The main differences, he said, are in the engineering.

He said the next generation of telescopes is crucial for forward progress in 21st Century astronomy.

“The goal is to start discovering and characterizing planets that might harbor life,” he said. “It’s very clear that we’re going to need the next generation of telescopes to do that.”

And far from being a competition, the real race is to contribute to science, said Charles Blue, a TMT spokesman.

“All next generation observatories would really like to be up and running as soon as possible to meet the scientific demand,” he said.

But when I asked him why the United States teams haven’t pooled their expertise to build a single next-generation telescope, Blue declined to comment.

In all, there are actually three teams (two from the U.S., and one from Europe) racing to build the first of these giant land-based telescopes: Extremely Large Telescope (Europe), TMT (U.S.), and Giant Magellan Telescope (U.S.). (And no, we’re not making these names up… in almost every description we could find, these bad boys are characterized first and foremost by their massive size.) The total estimated price tag for all this summit development? $2.6 billion dollars.

In the midst of this competition to build the first and the largest,  the worldwide community of those who share aloha for sacred summits are humbly asking:  for time and real consideration for native ecosystems, threatened endemic species, the cultural meaning of sacred space, cultural practice, and the natural and cultural heritage we have to pass forward to next generations… all in short supply on earth today. Can we not rationally slow down this latest race for space, in the interest of the future of life on our own planet?

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Generally, under today’s environmental laws, certain kinds of projects have to do an environmental review (Like an EIS). Other kinds of projects can be exempted. The BP oil spill at Deepwater Horizon has been a sobering reminder of why these kinds of environmental reviews and exemptions are so critical. (Can you believe THIS was exempted from EIS?)

Today, DLNR is proposing a “wild laundry list” of EIS exemptions for DLNR-managed lands, from building new roads to chemical herbicides. That’s 57 pages (fifty-seven!) of exemptions. Yeesh. We are asking the Office of Environmental Quality and Control (OEQC) to send DLNR back to the drawing board. If you or your organization is interested in participating in a group letter to OEQC or just want to know more about this issue, please contact Marti at marti@kahea.org by Friday morning.

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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.

Yet.

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!

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From Marti:

This legislative session didn’t turn out to be as bad as it could have been for our natural and cultural resources.  By mid-session this year, there were proposals to drastically weaken our EIS law, transfer 54% of the Division of Aquatic Resources to HIMB for groundskeepers (really, Dr. Leong? You know, City Mill has a sale on lawnmowers), and grant corporations extended leases to exploit our ocean. Thanks to the advocacy of so many, none of these proposals passed.

Not only that, legislators did manage to pass some good bills (in addition to HB 444). Sitting on the Governor’s desk for approval right now are laws that make it a felony to intentionally kill Hawaiian monk seals, require solar water heaters on new homes, and prevent beachfront landowners from using naupaka to block public access to and along the shoreline. It’s about time! Thanks also to your efforts, an audit will happening for Mauna Kea–albeit a self-audit. And while we still believe a self-audit is really no kind of audit at all, we do see it as a step in the right direction by the legislature. A very small, very weak and very tentative step, but a step nonetheless.

Mahalo to all those whose late nights, phone calls, petition gathering, and committed advocacy helped keep this 2010 legislative session from going off the rails.

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