WASHINGTON - Hawaii’s U.S. Representatives Ed Case (D) and Tulsi Gabbard (D) disagree on what should happen at the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) site on Mauna Kea.

“We need to continue world-class astronomy in Hawaii,” Case told KITV.

“Mauna Kea is so much more than just a mountain,” Gabbard said in an online video.

Case feels the project would give the state an even bigger platform when it comes to international scientific study. He’s hoping it would build upon the successes of the James Clerk Maxwell and Submillimeter Array telescopes, which helped reveal the first-ever photos of a black hole this spring.

“Any time that we in Hawaii can be a world leader in an area that brings us recognition, that brings us job growth, that’s an industry we should pursue,” Case said.

Gabbard says this is about more than science. She has been urging state leaders to stop the project; and she’s siding with Native Hawaiians and other protestors, arguing TMT would desecrate Mauna Kea’s religious history and future.

Gabbard also made the local story a part of her presidential campaign sharing videos online.

“It’s hypocritical that many TMT proponents speak of their own spiritual quests for knowledge and wisdom while simultaneously closing their eyes to the spiritual inspiration and significance that Mauna Kea offers,” Gabbard said during a video she tweeted from her 2020 campaign account last month. Gabbard recently visited protesters at the site, as well.

TMT would become the largest telescope in the Northern Hemisphere if and when the project is finished.

“I very much fear that taking TMT in the direction that it’s going on is really going to set that effort back by a generation,” Case added.

But defending native rights remains a priority for gabbard.

“It has to do with longstanding history on Mauna Kea, broken promises, desecration of sacred land and disrespect for native culture,” Gabbard added.

Even as lawmakers continue to dig in and take sides, there is little the federal government currently can do to intervene with the protests or the projects.