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A project to build a giant telescopenear the summit of Mauna Kea has the right to move forward, but Hawaii has failed the mountain in many ways, Gov. David Ige said Tuesday.
Amid protests and arrests of opponents blocking construction workers from accessing the site, construction has been halted since last month on the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope. Ige said it's up to the nonprofit telescope company to determine when construction will resume. "And we will support and enforce their right to do so," he said.
Kealoha Pisciotta, a longtime Big Island critic of the Thirty Meter Telescope, said she's disappointed in Ige's comments, which she said lacked substance. "It created this illusion that we're going to do something without really doing much," she said, adding that his words will not prompt protesters to leave the mountain.
"He affirmed that they will move forward," she said of telescope construction. "The deep sadness I feel is that means our people will be arrested."
Telescope officials didn't say when construction will resume.
"We appreciate that there are still people who are opposed to the project, and we will continue to respectfully listen and work with them to seek solutions," Henry Yang, chair of the TMT International Observatory Board, said in a statement.
Ige also vowed that there will be major changes in stewardship of Mauna Kea, held sacred by Native Hawaiians. The University of Hawaii, which leases the land, must do a better job in its stewardship, he said, listing 10 actions he's asking the university to take.