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TMT Response Filing Period Over; Now We Wait

Yesterday, June 13, 2017, marked the last important deadline for the TMT contested case. It was the final day for both sides to to file responses to the previously-submitted Findings of Fact for the case.

Proponents of the project set up a rally in Kona, where – despite the day’s rain – they gathered to wave signs and spread facts and support for the telescope.

Protesters also showed up at the site, though there is a suspicion they may have quickly organized only once they were informed of the support rally.

Now, over a year after the telescope’s first pre-conference meeting, the case becomes a waiting game as former Circuit Judge Riki May Amano wades through “some 800 exhibits, more than 700 documents, and 50 volumes of transcripts with nearly 12,000 pages featuring oral testimony over four months of the Hilo hearing.” (Star Advertiser)

There is no deadline for Judge Amano’s recommendation to the BLNR, but those involved with the case predict a decision by early fall, and though it is almost certain to be appealed to the state Supreme Court no matter how the BLNR rules, the TMT team is hoping for a positive resolution as soon as possible as construction is slated for April.

A video of the rally shared to West Hawaii Today’s Facebook page pulled in the usual vitriolic comments from a small handful of protesters, who repeated many baseless and bandwagon accusations like “Corporations vs the people,” “yes to TMT are getting paid to be out there” (prove it), “TMT is nothing but a cash cow,” and “The supporters of tmt are war criminals.”

There were no facts available to support any of these statements.

A report issued by Canadian scientists involved with the project has also been released, it’s content detailing criticisms of the alternative Canary Islands location and lauding Mauna Kea’s taller summit and superior viewing characteristics as the best opportunity to be scientifically competitive with the other next-generation telescopes under development, like ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope, which just began construction in Chile thanks to widespread scientific support and pride among Chilean residents.

TMT Executive Director Ed Stone responded to the report, saying:

Canada remains a strong member of our TMT project team and agrees that Maunakea in Hawaii is still the preferred site to build the Thirty Meter Telescope. The report recommended building in the Canary Islands only if the Hawaii option does not prove feasible on a timely basis.

Mauna Kea astronomer Thayne Currie added of the the La Palma site: “It’s not quite as good as advertised.”

The University of Hawaii and TMT International Observatory closed out their filings with responses to some of the protesters Findings of Fact submissions, noting in file 734:

The UH Hilo and TIO object to each of the FOF and COL in Flores-Case’s Proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision and Order, filed May 30, 2017 lDoc.664l (“Flores-Case’s Proposed FOF/COL”) to the extent that they are irrelevant, inapplicable, immaterial, mischaractenze the evidence, misstate or misrepresent the record, rely on evidence that is not credible, biased, or incomplete, andlor not supported by the evidence. UH Hilo and TIO also object to Flores-Case’s Proposed FOF/COL to the extent they assert alleged “findings” that are beyond the scope of issues set forth in Minute Order No. 19.

The same joint response was filed against protester Deborah Ward’s submission, in file 723.

Full details can be found at each file’s hyperlink above.

Check out a few more pictures from the support rally in Kona:

Although a court challenge is likely and the state is also appealing a judge’s ruling in December indicating that BLNR should have granted a separate contested case hearing for the project’s Mauna Kea sublease (SA), the main event will be Amano’s recommendation, followed by contested case parties getting the opportunity to agree or disagree with her findings and file any argument with the board.

Finally, the board will hold a hearing and make the ultimate decision on the project’s conservation district use permit.

More: Star Advertiser, West Hawaii Today

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