Amid Protests, Hawaii Governor Says Construction Of Thirty Meter Telescope Is Paused

HONOLULU (AP) — After more than a week of demonstrations and dozens of arrests, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Tuesday that the company building one of the world’s largest telescopes atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea has agreed to his request to halt construction for a week.

“They have responded to my request and on behalf of the president of the University and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have agreed to a time out on the project, and there will be no construction activities this week,” Ige said at a news conference. Thirty Meter Telescope is constructing the telescope on land that is held sacred to some Native Hawaiians. Scientists say the location is ideal for the telescope, which could allow them to see into the earliest years of the universe.

Ige said he hopes the temporary pause in construction will allow the interested parties to have more discussions about the project. Native Hawaiian groups have been protesting the construction of the telescope since its inception last year.

Kealoha Pisciotta, a critic of the telescope project and protest organizer, says the governor’s announcement is a positive development but opponents will continue to advocate against the project.

“I think that’s a good sign, but he needs to understand however that we can’t just stand down,” said Pisciotta, president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou. Ige “inherited these problems from the previous administration that had not done well by the people of Hawaii or the mountain.”

Hundreds have recently protested the construction on the mountain, and more than a dozen people were arrested last week for blocking the road that leads to the top of the mountain.

“They did sneak up in the dark of night before, so we will maintain our presence and observation,” Pisciotta said.

University of Hawaii spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said in a telephone interview that the university is —> Read More