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Parties in telescope case visit Mauna Kea to assess effects

Hawaii News

HILO >> The parties involved in the case of the giant telescope that could be built atop Mauna Kea toured the summit to observe potential impacts of a $1.4 billion telescope project.

The site visit took place Monday ahead of an Oct. 11 hearing, which will be the second contested case hearing related to the Thirty Meter Telescope. There are about two dozen parties involved in the case, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday.

Those against the project say it will desecrate land sacred to Native Hawaiians, while supporters argue that astronomy is an important part of Hawaiian culture.

People from both sides of the issue said Monday’s site visit went smoothly.

“It appears that everything the judge wanted in the site visit was accomplished,” said University of Hawaii spokesman Dan Meisenzahl. “We’re looking forward to the contested case hearing starting.”

The university system holds the master lease for the summit, and the telescope project pays $300,000 annually for a sublease.

Joseph Kualii Lindsey Camara, who opposes the telescope project, said the visit went well but he would have liked to spend more time touring the summit.

“I think you get a better feel of the place, but it is what it is,” Camara said. “All of the areas are really different, you know? It’s a lot of different spaces.”

Construction of the telescope was halted last year after several protests on Mauna Kea. The state Supreme Court in December invalidated the project’s permit, ruling that the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources should have held a hearing prior to issuing a permit to construct the telescope on land designated for conservation.

Next month’s contested case hearing is being overseen by retired Judge Riki May Amano and includes the original six parties to the first case as well as several new parties.

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