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Hawaii Supreme Court Says Yes to Controversial Telescope

Thirty Meter Telescope project can move forward, high court rules
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 31, 2018 1:18 PM CDT
This Aug. 31, 2015, file photo shows telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island.   (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

(Newser) – After years of delay, including lengthy court battles and passionate protests from those willing to be arrested for blocking construction crews, builders of a giant telescope plan to move forward with constructing the $1.4 billion instrument on a Hawaii mountain that is considered sacred. The state Supreme Court's 4-1 ruling upholding the project's construction permit Tuesday is a victory for the contentious Thirty Meter Telescope planned for Hawaii's tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, the AP reports. Opponents say the telescope will desecrate sacred land on the Big Island. Supporters say it will bring educational and economic opportunities to the state. Plans for the project date to 2009, when scientists selected Mauna Kea after a five-year, around-the-world campaign to find the ideal site; since the groundbreaking ceremony in 2014, protests have intensified.

Astronomy and Native Hawaiian "uses on Mauna Kea have co-existed for many years and the TMT Project will not curtail or restrict Native Hawaiian uses," the ruling said. The advanced telescope, which will reportedly allow astronomers to reach back 13 billion years, will answer some of the most fundamental questions of the universe, and Native Hawaiians will also benefit from it, the ruling added. Further legal action is still possible, state Attorney General Russell Suzuki said. There can be a motion for reconsideration filed within 10 days and following that, a request can be made to the US Supreme Court to review the decision, he said. Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the main leaders against the telescope, said she's doesn't know what their next steps will be, but she's not hopeful that more legal wrangling will help. Click for much more on the telescope, the years of battles, and one activist's suggestion that it might be time to "rise up" and "take to the streets."

(Read more Hawaii stories.)

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