Environment Hawaii on the Supreme Court Decision re: TMT

The Hawai‘i Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its majority decision, issued October 30, that upheld the Conservation District Use Permit allowing for construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Several parties had asked the court to reconsider the ruling, which was joined in by four members of the five-member bench. Only Justice Michael Wilson dissented.

The court did amend its decision in response to an amicus brief filed by attorneys for Kua‘aina Ulu ‘Auamo, Colette Machado, and Dan Ahuna. As co-counsel Earthjustice states on its website, the decision included two footnotes “that dropped legal bombshells: one suggesting that Native Hawaiians must bear the burden to prove their rights, exactly opposite to settled precedent that developers and agencies bear the burden to justify any harm to Native Hawaiian rights; and the other endorsing a false and offensive distinction between ‘contemporary’ (read: fake) and ‘traditional’ (read: real) Hawaiian practices.” The court deleted the footnotes and added one clarifying that impact analyses are not “limited to the project footprint,” the website states.

What’s next?

While opponents have indicated they will continue to protest, the process of setting out exact terms of what will be allowed has yet to begin. According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, there will be two phases of permitting for the TMT: civil construction, which involves geotechnical studies, access improvements, and rough grading; and actual construction.

“Construction plans need to be approved by the DLNR … for consistency with the permit. We will also review the status of the required pre-construction mitigation measures contained in the permit.

“Examples of pre-construction mitigation measures include establishing full-day cultural training, funding for educational programs and the community benefits package, implementa- tion of studies on wekiu habitat, and establishment of mentorship programs.”

As of mid-December, no plans had been submitted for review.

— Source: www.environment-hawaii.org/

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