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University of Hawaiʻi to pause plans on Maunakea as new authority looms

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The University of Hawai’i will immediately pause all lease negotiations and plans for decommissioning observatories on Maunakea in response to a new measure passed by the Legislature.

The university released a statement Thursday from President David Lassner in response to HB 2024, which would create a new authority to manage Maunakea if signed by Gov. David Ige.

In addition, UH will pause its work on a new master lease and its associated environmental impact statement.

Lassner said that UH identified technical and operational concerns with the final draft of the bill. One is the lack of clear authority for stewardship during the 5-year transition period.

While UH hopes the matters will be addressed before it becomes law, Lassner said it was not a basis to request a veto of the bill.

The bill says the new oversight authority will have 11 voting members, including eight appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The appointees would include one descendant of a practitioner of Native Hawaiian traditions and customs associated with Maunakea and one recognized practitioner of Native Hawaiian traditions and customs.

One appointee would be selected from a list of three names submitted by Maunakea Observatories, a consortium of telescopes at the summit.

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