TMT preparing to send crew back to Mauna Kea
MAUNA KEA, Hawaii - Following a four month layoff, construction atop Mauna Kea will resume. That's if Thirty Meter Telescope crews can get past the people who stand in their way.
The battle lines on Mauna Kea haven't changed. TMT says the summit is the best spot to build a high tech telescope, but TMT opponents say it's sacred ground. What might change this time around is the way the protests are carried out.
"One thing that you'll see is a shift. We've already called for that. We will go out of this red color for Ku and we're shifting to a white, the Lono," said Lanakila Mangauil, a leader of the TMT opposition.
A shift in the Hawaiian season has movement leaders looking to set a new tone.
"The tone will not be so much of 'Ku Kiai Mauna' that feared chanting but really condoning that down to more of that aloha," said Mangauil.
Construction of the project has been on hold since July when hundreds of TMT opponents were successful in preventing crews from accessing the summit. On Tuesday, TMT said it's going to send a small crew up on the mountain sometime in November to make repairs to its equipment.
"We are deeply committed to respectful stewardship of the mountain and to the vision that integrates science and culture in Hawaii and enriches the educational opportunities and local economy," said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board of Governors. "We will continue to follow the state's laws, procedures and processes, as we have done for more than eight years, while respectfully awaiting the Supreme Court's decision."
Those against the project say once again, TMT will face resistance.
"I think they know it's no surprise, it's no secret that they'll be met with some kind of resistance. What that will look like I'm not sure," said Kaho'okahi Kanuha, a leader of the TMT opposition.
"Those are basically their weapons on top of the mountain, so to burst into our grandmother's house and hold a shotgun to her and your gun jammed, you think we're really going to sit there and let you fix the gun?" said Mangauil.
A TMT spokesperson said it's decided to move forward now for several reasons. TMT feels like the public is in favor of the project pointing to a recent poll showing 62 percent of Hawaii residents support construction of the telescope and 88 percent of Hawaii residents agree there should be a way for science and Hawaiian culture to co-exist on Mauna Kea.
"The poll was not the catalyst to go back to work, but it does re-enforce the fact that there is strong support for the project," said Scott Ishikawa, a spokesperson for the Thirty Meter Telescope.
But those against the project point out the data was paid for by the TMT.
"It's ridiculous, ridiculous," said Mangauil.
In October, the Mauna Kea Emergency rule which was put in place by the State Board of Land and Natural Resources was deemed invalid. Because of that, those against the TMT expect another mass amount of people to show up on Mauna Kea once they find out what day TMT crews will be heading onto the mountain.
The exact date has yet to be officially announced.
In the meantime, both sides are still awaiting a ruling from the Hawaii Supreme Court on whether or not a permit issued to construct the Thirty Meter Telescope is valid.
Also, the announcement from TMT comes just a day before a celebration was planned atop Mauna Kea.
A group of Hawaiians were scheduled to be on the mountain starting Tuesday night in preparation for Wednesday's Makahiki celebration. That event runs for the next five days.