Friday, December 16, 2016


Hawai`i Tribune-Herald - December 16, 2016 - By Tom Callis

A Hilo Circuit Court judge on Thursday overturned the state’s approval of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s sublease for Mauna Kea.

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which was representing plaintiff E. Kalani Flores, said Judge Greg Nakamura ruled the state Board of Land and Natural Resources violated their client’s constitutional rights for rejecting his request for a contested case hearing before it consented to the agreement in 2014.

The sublease is between TMT International Observatory (TIO) and the University of Hawai`i at Hilo, which holds a master lease for much of the mountain. At the time, the Land Board said the decision was a matter of internal management, not subject to the quasi-judicial hearings.

“To me, it confirms that Native Hawaiian cultural practices have a right to be involved in these agency decisions,” said NHLC attorney David Kopper. “And their interests are no less important than other commercial interests.”

TIO needs the Land Board’s consent on a sublease and land use permit to resume building its telescope on Mauna Kea. It will lack that approval once the ruling is finalized.

Despite the additional setback, representatives for the state attorney general’s office, UH and TIO avoided making any statements about how much the project will be impacted since a written ruling hasn’t been issued. That could take weeks.