//Hearing Update 1/24 – Poll Numbers

1/24 – Poll Numbers

Day 29 of the contested case hearings took place in Hilo today with witnesses for the TMT opponents continuing to testify.

Maile Taualii, who holds a doctorate in Health Services, spoke of her personal views on Maunakea and Native Hawaiian opposition to the TMT project. During her testimony, she spoke about what she felt would be negative health impacts to Native Hawaiians by TMT and other projects on Maunakea.

Taualii confirmed that she did not speak to any Native Hawaiians who support TMT during her health impacts research.

During cross-examination, attorney Lincoln Ashida representing the pro-TMT Native Hawaiian group PUEO (Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities), used the moment to bring up a scientific poll taken last year regarding the TMT project.

Ashida brought up the poll findings, which found:

  • Hawaii Island residents support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. The poll showed that 60 percent of Big Island residents support moving ahead with construction of the TMT project, with 31 percent opposed.
  • Support for TMT’s construction is split among Hawaiians/part Hawaiians on Hawaii Island, with 46 percent of those polled in support of the project and 45 percent opposed.
  • 70 percent of Hawaii Island residents agree that failure to move forward with TMT will hurt educational opportunities for Hawaii Island children with the termination of TMT’s annual $1 million contribution to the THINK Fund and workforce pipeline program. (It should be noted that the Native Hawaiian group PUEO is in support of advancing the STEM education of Native Hawaiians.)

When Ashida asked whether the poll findings were part of Taualii’s research for her testimony, Taualii said it was not.

With much of the hearings’ testimony thus far focused on science and culture, the scientific poll demonstrating support for the project has not been brought up much during the discussion.

Here is some additional background and other key findings:

  • The public opinion poll was conducted in July 2016 by Ward Research, Inc.
  • 89 percent of Hawaii Island residents agree there should be a way for science and Hawaiian culture to co-exist on Maunakea
  • 76 percent of Hawaii Island residents agree that TMT will help create good paying jobs and economic and educational benefits for those living on Hawaii Island
  • 66 percent of Hawaii Island residents agree that failure to move forward with TMT after following all regulations would hurt Hawaii’s reputation as a place to do business
  • The poll has a margin of error of  +/- 4.9%

The poll numbers are a reminder of the increasing support of TMT, as island residents and Native Hawaiians gradually get a better understanding of the project and its scientific, educational and economic benefits.

The hearings continue this week tomorrow and Thursday at the Grand Naniloa Hotel.