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Should the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) project on Mauna Kea be allowed to proceed?

Senior Vice President and
Hawaii Island Manager,
Bank of Hawaii

Devin, our 16-year-old son, attends Hilo High School. He is a good student and we are proud of his achievements. As a mother, I know that what he learns today will have a profound influence on his future.

College is on his mind. I’m worrying about job opportunities available to him after college. Will he be able to remain on Hawaii Island, or will Devin, like so many others, need to uproot and move elsewhere to fulfill his dreams?
Devin has a keen interest in astronomy, fueled in large part by the exciting discoveries taking place atop Mauna Kea. This mountain, sacred in Hawaiian culture and a natural wonder, is an inspirational presence. Devin sees the mountain every day and I believe Mauna Kea has sparked his interest in exploring the universe.

If our children are to succeed in Hawaii, we must have high-tech, high-skill, high-paying jobs right here at home, not only in Honolulu, but throughout our Island communities.

The Thirty-Meter Telescope, an incredibly awe-inspiring endeavor, brings with it tremendous opportunities for the children of Hawaii to literally reach for the stars. Our entire community is on the threshold of a brighter future. TMT can contribute long-term, sustainable community benefits, making new educational opportunities possible, such as scholarships or an educational foundation.

To build the world’s largest telescope at the world’s best astronomical site, the TMT must find the avenue for Hawaiian culture, environmental stewardship and the astronomical science of the future to intertwine harmoni-ously. I believe it can.

Sometimes children fall short of their dreams, but we cannot shortchange our children. My son’s dream is held in the far corners of the universe. My dream is to see my future grandchildren thrive here at home.

For all the wonderful possibilities the Thirty-Meter Telescope will bring to Hawaii, I support Mauna Kea, not Chile, as the project site.

Nelson Ho
Co-Chair, Mauna Kea
Issues Committee,
Sierra Club

The TMT should be built — on another mountain! This controversy is not a matter of being for or against astronomy and science. It is a matter of adhering to the law, proper land management and correcting 30 years of mistakes. The TMT’s 2007 Assessment of Risks for Siting the Thirty-Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea stated, “Hawaiians, both native and non-native, speak of poor planning, bureaucratic bungling, broken promises, technocratic arrogance, and a persistent failure to engage the Native Hawaiian community in meaningful and appropriate ways. Some of this has been reported in two legislative audits.”

Developers University of California and California Institute of Technology (UC-Caltech) are institutions with sullied pasts. In 2003, a federal lawsuit involving UC-Caltech and NASA’s six Keck Outrigger Telescopes compelled the first federal Environmental Impact Statement ever conducted on Mauna Kea since 1968. It disclosed “the cumulative impact of 30 years of astronomy development has resulted in significant, adverse and substantial impact to the cultural and natural resources of Mauna Kea.” UC-Caltech attempted to count the two Kecks, the largest in the world when built, as one telescope by connecting them with a building. The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory uses an unlined cesspool despite repeated kupuna requests for cultural sensitivity.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has a non-transferable fiduciary duty to protect Native Hawaiian rights and resources. DLNR claims it has no money to conduct the court-ordered comprehensive management plan (CMP). It must fix this funding problem by correcting the $1 a year leases for Great Britain, Japan, Canada, France, NASA, Smithsonian Institution and UC-Caltech. The Supreme Court of Hawaii has instructed all state agencies to fulfill their duties, prohibiting delegation of their duties or authority to a sub-entity like the University of Hawaii. DLNR must develop the CMP in compliance with the law.

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