//Hearing Update 12/12

Hearing Update 12/12

Day 15 of the contested case hearings in Hilo had the head of the Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM) taking the stand for a second day of cross-examination.

OMKM director Stephanie Nagata, whose organization is assigned to protect and preserve the natural and cultural resources of the 11,750-acre Maunakea Science Reserve, responded to numerous questions from the other parties involved in the hearings. Nagata has been OMKM director since 2012, serving as its interim director the prior four years and with OMKM since its inception in 2000.

Nagata had been expected to be heavily cross-examined because of her management position and the responsibilities of OMKM in overseeing cultural and natural resources on Maunakea. Several of the hearing intervenors exceeded their maximum 30-minute time limit for cross examinations. Many of the questions brought up focused on the organization’s policies toward protecting Maunakea’s cultural findings.

But Nagata also used the moment to reiterate that the state already has a master plan in place to protect the Maunakea Science Reserve by placing certain restrictions on new development of telescopes. During her oral testimony, Nagata explained that the master plan allows the redevelopment or expansion of existing observatory sites only within their current footprints, and would allow the construction of only one larger telescope such as the Thirty Meter Telescope at a new site in the astronomy-designated area.

With the new telescope, the master plan would also ensure that TMT is built away from the other existing observatories at the Maunakea summit in a new designated area. The intent to construct TMT in an alternate site – labelled area “E” – away from the mountain summit was meant to create less visual impact, she explained.

At Tuesday’s scheduled hearing, UH witness/hydrologist Tom Nance is expected to testify on water, wastewater and drainage issues as related to the planned Thirty Meter Telescope. Some TMT opponents have recently questioned publicly whether the Thirty Meter Telescope will impact the island’s aquifer. Nance is expected to refute those claims during his testimony.