Hawaii high court lets ruling stand on giant telescope

HILO (AP) — The Hawaii Supreme Court is letting stand its decision that upholds the construction permit for a giant telescope planned for the state’s tallest mountain.

The court filed an order last week denying opponents’ motion for it to reconsider the ruling on the telescope project planned for the Big Island, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported .

The court ruled 4-1 on Oct. 30 that the state land board was correct in approving a permit for the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, a mountain some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

“We are pleased with the Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision on the matter,” said Douglas Ing, an attorney for the TMT International Observatory. “These motions filed by the opponents simply repeated arguments previously raised, considered, and addressed by the state Board of Land Natural Resources and the Supreme Court. The motions presented no new facts nor did they cite applicable legal precedents not already considered.”

Opponents have cited concerns about the project’s possible effects on the environment and Hawaiian cultural practices. Supporters have said it will keep the state at the forefront of astronomy and support science, technology, engineering and math education.

Kealoha Pisciotta, among those who challenged the project in court, said “everything is on the table” as opponents continue their effort to stop the $1.4 billion observatory from being built.

The University of Hawaii, which manages the Maunakea Science Reserve, holds the permit for the project.

The university and observatory are reviewing permit conditions for construction to restart, said Dan Meisenzahl, a spokesman for the university.