Stars align for TMT?; Hawaii Supreme Court gives telescope green light, while opponents consider next move

//Stars align for TMT?; Hawaii Supreme Court gives telescope green light, while opponents consider next move

After facing years of setbacks from protests and legal challenges, the Thirty Meter Telescope cleared its last major hurdle Tuesday before the Hawaii Supreme Court.

The judges ruled 4-1 to affirm the approval of the project’s Conservation District Use Permit by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, after previously ruling against the agency nearly three years ago because of due process issues.

Thayne Currie, a Maunakea astronomer and TMT supporter, said the project has been worth the wait, and he thinks the court applied the “letter of the law” in both decisions.

“We are excited and ecstatic about what the future may hold for the island and for the ability of the island to be a place where we discover more about the universe,” he said.

TMT International Observatory had selected a backup site in the Canary Islands in case it can’t build the next-generation observatory on Maunakea. While no announcement has been made about when construction could resume, Henry Yang, TIO board chairman, said in a statement the organization is “excited to move forward in Hawaii.”

“We remain committed to being good stewards of the mountain and inclusive of the Hawaiian community,” Yang said. “We will honor the culture of the islands and its people and do our part to contribute to this future through our ongoing support of education and Hawaii Island’s young people.”

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