TMT opponents given time to request a ruling reconsideration

HILO — The state Supreme Court agreed to give Thirty Meter Telescope opponents more time to consider asking for reconsideration of its recent ruling.

The opponents, a mix of Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and environmentalists, asked for an extension because the dissenting opinion wasn’t published along with the majority ruling and a concurring opinion. The dissenting opinion also was published Friday.


Opponents will have 10 days from Friday to make a request for reconsideration.

The court voted 4-1 on Oct. 30 to uphold the state Board of Land and Natural Resources’ decision to approve a Conservation District Use Permit for the $1.4 billion project, slated to be built on Maunakea.

The 180-foot-tall next-generation observatory will be one of the world’s most advanced, if not the most advanced, by the time it is complete, and is expected to keep Hawaii at the forefront of astronomy. However, it has faced opposition due to concerns about impacts to Hawaiian cultural practices on the mountain, which some consider sacred, and the environment.

The majority ruling acknowledged telescope construction on the mountain has had a significant cumulative impact on natural and cultural resources, but also noted mitigation efforts, including commitments by the University of Hawaii to remove five telescopes and a road at the summit, that are part of the TMT permit. They also said that TMT won’t interfere with cultural practices at the summit or Lake Waiau.

In his dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Michael Wilson said BLNR erred by approving the project before impacts on the mountain are reduced below the “tipping point.” He said conditions to remove other observatories are “little more than aspirational goals.”

“In other words, BLNR concludes that the degradation to the summit area has been so substantially adverse that the addition of TMT would have no substantial adverse effect,” Wilson wrote. “Thus, while conceding that Mauna Kea receives constitutional and statutory protection commensurate with its unchallenged position as the citadel of Hawaiian cultural pantheon, the BLNR applies what can be described as a degradation principle to cast off cultural or environmental protection by establishing that prior degradation of the resource — to a level of damage causing a substantial adverse impact — extinguishes the legal protection afforded to natural resources in the conservation district.”

TMT International Observatory has not yet announced when construction would resume on the mountain.


UH, which holds the master lease for the Maunakea Science Reserve, has said the TMT site would be the last new telescope site to be developed.

Email Tom Callis at

  1. 4whatitsworth November 10, 2018 5:36 am

    When you allow groups of people to blatantly take advantage of our due process it erodes American democracy. Oh.. maybe that is the goal?

    1. Buds4All November 10, 2018 7:46 am

      Well when it happens all across our country its bound to end up in our back yard! Look at FLA and what is going on there.

    2. Peter Bacot November 11, 2018 1:50 pm

      When groups take advantage of their rights… that IS democracy.

      1. 4whatitsworth November 11, 2018 5:28 pm

        Hmm maybe that is the problem. For example I guess I could just sue you for anything that I felt would further my interests (more and more people are doing that) then you see what I am doing and start using the same tactics.. How do you think that is going to go for us..?

        Don’t get me wrong I appreciate the conversation and I appreciate our democracy, but democracy in my view requires some honesty that seems to be lacking in most current proceedings.

  2. TaroGuy November 10, 2018 6:19 am

    There was a hearing before the Supreme Court where both sides made their cases and now the Supreme Court has made its ruling. Now the Supreme Court is giving the losing side another chance to make its case. Does the winning side also get another shot at making its case?

    After the ten day period will the Supreme Court reverse its ruling if the opponents make a different argument for its side? I thought the next step would be an appeal directly to the US Supreme Court.

  3. Buds4All November 10, 2018 7:45 am

    Its like the state want no jobs and or recognition for a place of learning and discovery in the world. Sad Sad Sad…..

  4. Richard95070 November 10, 2018 8:39 am

    Of course the state will pay the losing lawyers expenses and possibly the time the “experts” confer with the lawyers during these 10 days and on to any other appeals.
    Is this about Hawaiian culture or about legal fees and milking the system? Hmm!

  5. joedriver November 10, 2018 9:02 am

    substantial adverse effect,” Wilson wrote. You want an example of that head to the tide pools, oh they don’t exist .. The top of MK is pristine no thanks to the protesters that trash the place when they are there.

    1. Kaipo Wall November 10, 2018 9:43 am

      They brought species of ANTS from makai last time . They have zero awareness of the assisted migration of invasive non-native species into pristine areas . It’s all “Auwe” and me, me,me. It’s a big party for them , a party with great views and a place where they can wave flags and wear warm clothes . Fun, fun , fun. How many spend any time on ‘the mauna’ when they are not there to participate in a protest ? Do they know anything about the flora or the fauna ? Are any serving as volunteers with the various groups of volunteers assisting with the restoration and replanting of native plants and protection of rare and endangered native birds? Maybe a few , and THANK YOU . As for the rest ; please keep your partying down makai where it makes less impact on a critically fragile environment . ps: put the TMT on Mauna Loa , paint it reddish brown or black . Out of sight , out of mind . And it’s NOT then in the wao Akua .

  6. Pest Outwest November 10, 2018 9:34 am

    I have a difficult time with the dissent giving any credence whatsoever to superstitious religious beliefs. Why should the state be involved with that? Because a small minority has some crazy belief that recently deposited volcanic dirt is “sacred”? What if expressed a similar belief in the lava rock underneath the Target in Kona? Would this judge seriously listen to a lawsuit demanding that it be torn down?

    The courts have no business considering religion, the only question should be the environmental impact, and since there is practically no environment except dirt up there, that should be the end of it.

    1. Peter Bacot November 11, 2018 1:49 pm

      Yes! Archeological, historical and, cultural significance is always considered in new development. Unlikely that Target was exempt, but since it was approved in the first place, unlikely to be torn down. Brutal rule of the majority over minorities is the main problem throughout history.

  7. Big ideas November 10, 2018 6:33 pm

    How many times are we going to bend over for these knuckleheads?
    Answer – until they stick up our collective okole!
    Enough is enough…..if we wanted this to draw out 30 years we would have submitted road plans.

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