Over the last few years, TMT has experienced several unforeseen challenges, starting with the halting of its official groundbreaking ceremony by protestors in October 2014. Subsequent protests on the mountain prevented the start of construction on two separate occasions.
The Courts also invalidated the Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) and the Consent to Sublease after questioning the state’s legal process. Those two key elements were resolved as follows:
CDUP Contested Case – Work on the telescope on Maunakea was halted in 2015 when the Hawaii Supreme Court invalidated the Conservation District Use Permit on procedural grounds. That permit had been issued by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) to the University of Hawaii Hilo to build TMT on Maunakea. The Supreme Court returned the case to the Hawaii Circuit Court and instructed that a new contested case hearing be conducted The contested case got underway in October 2016. Following 44 days of testimony by 71 witnesses over five months, the hearing concluded in early March 2017, and hearings officer Riki May Amano in July 2017 recommended that a state Conservation District Use Permit be re-issued to allow construction of the project on Maunakea. On Thursday, September 28, the State Land Board announced its decision to approve the Conservation District Use Permit to build TMT on Maunakea. Opponents challenged the new permit before the Hawaii State Supreme Court. On Tuesday, October 30, 2018, the Hawaii Supreme Court, by majority decision, issued its opinion affirming the Board of Land and Natural Resources’ decision to issue a CDUP for construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea.
Consent to the Sublease – On August 8, 2018, the Hawaii Supreme Court issued its unanimous and favorable decision in the Consent to Sublease appeal reversing the decision of the lower court and finding that Kalani Flores was not entitled to a contested case hearing on BLNR’s Consent to the Sublease between TIO and the University. As a result, the sublease is valid.