A joint Senate Committee conducted a public hearing on a measure to overhaul the management of Mauna Kea. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
Senate Bill 3090 would establish the Mauna Kea Management Authority which would renegotiate observatory leases and permits, limit the number of telescopes on the summit and exercise police powers and enforcement on the mountain. Big Island Mayor, Harry Kim, did not oppose the bill, but said he prefers local rule.
“I think one of the biggest concerns of people was the lack of input and coordination with people of interests and people of residence. There’s one thing I recognize and I think will be pursued by me will be more management under local control.”
Senate Higher Education Committee chair, Kai’ali’i Kahele, who represents Hilo, supports a new management authority and blames the University of Hawai’i for destabilizing the situation by pursuing multiple actions pertaining to Mauna Kea.
“By moving forward with a master lease that doesn’t expire for 14 more years, to have public comments on an EIS while you’re trying to get public comment and information on administrative rules that should have been done years ago, while we have two major cases at the State Supreme Court doesn’t help what we’re trying to do.”
But, Ka Lahui Hawai’i chair, He’alani Sonoda-Pale, says the Senate’s proposed bill is not the one to reorganize management of Mauna Kea.
“As of today, there were 644 testimonies in opposition to Senate Bill 3090. Four-hundred forty-four of them being registered voters from all over the islands and all districts.”
Doug Simons represents all of the observatories on Mauna Kea. He recommended state lawmakers work with the current management structure instead of dismantling it and starting from scratch.
“We are funded by international science funding agencies like the National Science Foundation. I’m convinced that given the beating that Hawai’i astronomy has taken over the controversies of the past 3 years, that funding which drives the whole engine of Hawai’i astronomy is at risk.”
The joint senate committee will vote on Senate Bill 3090 on February 14th. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.