Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Telescope - The View from Afar - Part 7

Telescope officials say Hawaii is preferred site

Aug. 5, 2019, San Francisco Chronicle

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - The executive director of a telescope project that is being blocked from construction on Hawaii's Big Island says the decision to seek a building permit for an alternative site in the Canary Islands is part of an ongoing process to secure a backup site.

In a statement Monday, Thirty Meter Telescope executive director Ed Stone says the international consortium hoping to build a giant telescope still prefers Hawaii's Mauna Kea, but the group is moving forward with its "plan B" site in La Palma "should it not be possible to build in Hawaii."

The University of Hawaii, which leases the land that the telescope plans to build on, released a similar statement Monday saying the latest action is a continuation of steps that have been underway for several years. But Thirty Meter Telescope and state officials planned to begin construction in Hawaii more than three weeks ago. Native Hawaiian activists have blocked the road to the building site and say they won't budge until the telescope goes elsewhere.

The mayor of Hawaii's Big Island says it would be a loss for his community if a giant telescope planned for the summit of the state's highest peak was built in Spain instead. Hawaii Gov. David Ige tasked Big Island Mayor Harry Kim with finding common ground among Native Hawaiian leaders, protesters and telescope stakeholders. An international consortium that wants to build the telescope in Hawaii has decided to seek a building permit for an alternative site in the Canary Islands.

Kim says the telescope would be a good thing for Hawaii, "if done the right way." But the mayor also acknowledges that injustices to the Native Hawaiian community need to be addressed. He says "part of the right way is a recognition of wrongs of past."

He says he doesn't want the Big Island's economy to be based entirely on tourism.

Native Hawaiian protest leaders are happy that an international consortium that wants to build a giant telescope on Hawaii's tallest peak has decided to seek a building permit for an alternative site in the Canary Islands.

Kealoha Pisciotta has long opposed the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii and says there's lots of good science to be done from the Canary Islands. She says moving the project to Spain would be "a win for everyone."

Some Native Hawaiians believe the summit of the Big Island mountain is sacred, and protesters are in their fourth week of blocking access to Mauna Kea's summit to prevent construction.


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