Get The Facts
Get The Facts
What is TMT doing to protect Maunakea’s cultural resources?
TMT is committed to a new paradigm of development on Maunakea, founded on integrating culture, science, sustainability and education. The TMT project understands the importance of archaeological and cultural sites on Maunakea and it takes their protection very seriously. From the very beginning, TMT and its founders have focused on the protection and preservation of Maunakea’s culture and landscape.
In the 2000 Maunakea Science Reserve Master Plan, the northern plateau of area E was identified and chosen for the next observatory location because of its lack of archeological, cultural, or biological impact. This plan also noted the concerns of native Hawaiians that no more development on the summit of Maunakea should be considered given that these cultural areas need protection.
Are there archaeological features on the TMT site?
There was great care taken in identifying the location for the TMT so that it could have minimal impact archaeologically and environmentally. It was determined that the selected site has no archaeological shrines or features, no endangered plants or insects, and no burial sites.
Does TMT have support from the Hawaiian community?
TMT has engaged with the Hawaiian community throughout the entire 10-year community-listening process. A Hawaii poll, commissioned by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in March 2018, found that 72% of native Hawaiians expressed support of the telescope while 23% were against it and 5% were undecided.
Why can’t TMT be put in place of one of the existing telescopes?
The decision was made to put TMT on its own site because placing it at the site of one of the existing summit ridge facilities would require a large amount of grading, most of which is in the wekiu habitat. Choosing an existing location would also have a much higher visual impact. The 2000 Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan identified the chosen site on the northwest plateau as the most appropriate place for a telescope like TMT. This site requires very little grading and is not visible from any of the places that people consider the most sacred on the mountain. There are also no archaeological finds, ancient burials, or endangered flora or fauna located there.
Will TMT have an impact on the aquifer?
Although groundwater is a primary source of drinking water in Hawaii, there are no wells extracting groundwater near the summit of Maunakea. The nearest wells are about 12 miles away in Waikii Ranch. TMT will install a zero-discharge wastewater system during construction, designed to collect and transport all wastewater off the mountain for proper treatment and disposal. As such, hydrologists have said there is no reason to believe there will be any negative impact on groundwater.
What other environmental considerations are being made by TMT?
TMT will follow the approved Comprehensive Management Plan to protect and conserve Maunakea’s cultural and natural resources, making it a role model for sustainable astronomy. During construction, the TMT will have cultural, archaeological, and construction monitors on site at all times.
How will the TMT be powered?
TMT will connect to the local Hawaii Island power grid, just like all of the other observatories on the summit of Maunakea.
Will nuclear power be used?
No, nuclear power will not be used for the TMT project.
How will the project benefit the Hawaii community?
TMT launched The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund in 2014 to better prepare Hawaii students to master STEM, so they can become the workforce for higher-paying science and technology jobs in the 21st century economy. TMT makes an annual $1 million contribution to the Fund, administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation and Pauahi Foundation.
So far, the TMT project has funded $5,536,964.15 to the Think Fund (THINK Fund at HCF $4,254,232.94 and THINK Fund at Pauahi Foundation $1,282,731.21) for Hawaiian students, teachers, and families.
TMT has also initiated the Workforce Pipeline Program, working alongside the State Department of Education, University of Hawaii Hilo, Hawaii Community College, Hawaii County Government, and nonprofit organizations. The goal is to strengthen the STEM skills infrastructure at UH Hilo, HCC and K-12 education organizations that serve low income and first-generation college students. TMT is committed to spending additional funds each year on its Workforce Pipeline Program when fully operational.
What is TMT paying for lease rent?
For the first three years, TMT will pay $300,000 in lease rent, followed by $400,000 for the fourth and fifth years, $600,000 when the structure is built, $700,000 when the instruments and mirrors are placed, and $900,000 in the tenth year of construction. After that, TMT will pay $1 million a year while the telescope is in operation. Eighty percent of the lease rent will go to the Office of Mauna Kea Management to steward the mountain and twenty percent goes to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
How many jobs will be created to operate the TMT?
TMT will provide employment opportunities and possibilities for businesses to assist TMT’s development, operations, and maintenance. During the 10 year construction timeline, TMT will create approximately 300 local construction jobs. Once completed, the TMT will bring in about $26 million annually in observatory operations and will provide employment opportunities for about 140 people.
Was TMT’s Environmental Impact Statement approved?
The TMT’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was approved in May 2010 after 2 years of public review and input. The FEIS was not challenged once it was approved.
What has TMT done in terms of community outreach?
TMT understands the cultural significance of Maunakea. That is why it has engaged the Hawaiian community throughout the entire planning process. In that time, TMT has:
- Consulted with Native Hawaiian groups
- Provided plenty of opportunities for community feedback
- Held over 20 public meetings
- Participated in meeting of all sizes, including one-on-one, small and large group presentations
- Engaged in open dialog and meaningful discussions with community members and stakeholders
Before and during the Environmental Impact Statement process, TMT met with upwards of 75 native Hawiian individuals or representatives from organizations, including native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, civic clubs, unions, educational institutions, environmental and sustainability groups, and ali’i (royal) trusts.
What input did the community members give during the planning process?
- Do not build on the summit or near the pu’u (cinder cones) because they are the most sacred part of the Mauna
- If you build a new telescope, then take one that is existing down
- Pay a fair lease, not $1 a year
- Education for children should be a community-wide benefit of the project
- Do everything environmentally right and protect the natural resources
- Ensure local residents are trained for the high-tech jobs required
- Follow the rules and processes, take no shortcuts
How was the feedback incorporated into TMT’s plans?
- TMT will pay $1 million in lease rent annually, with 80% of that money going to the Office of Maunakea Management for stewardship of the mountain and 20% going to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to support programs and initiatives
- TMT created The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund with a $1 million a year contribution to support STEM education on the island. This is distributed between the Hawaii Community Foundation for grants and scholarships, and the Pauahi Foundation for scholarships dedicated to Hawiian students.
- TMT initiated a Workforce Pipeline Program that prepares Hawaii Island students for science and technology jobs. TMT is working with public schools, the University of Hawaii, county government, and nonprofits to strengthen the STEM infrastructure.
Which native Hawaiian or environmental organizations did TMT meet with?
- Office of Hawaiian Affairs
- Kahu Ku Mauna, native Hawaiian advisors to the Mauna Kea Management Board, Office of Mauna Kea Management, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo
- ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center
- Mauna Kea Anania Hou
- Na Kupuna O Moku o Keawe
- Hawaii Island Sierra Club
- Hawaii Laieikawai Association
- Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs
- Hawaii Civic Blu of Kona – Kuakini
- Malala O Puna
- Temple of Lono
- Royal Order of Kamehameha
- Various educational institutions
Is there support for TMT in Hawaii?
The majority of Hawaiians are in support of the TMT. A statewide poll, contracted by the Pacific Resource Partnership in March 2017, found that 72% of voters support TMT on Maunakea, up by more than 10% from 2015. Additionally, a Hawaii poll commissioned in March 2018 by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser found that 72% of people expressed support, 23% were against it, and 5% were undecided. A 2019 survey conducted by Civil Beat showed a 2-1 margin in favor of building the TMT on Maunakea.
From a science perspective, why build the TMT?
TMT scientists spent over 5 years spanning the entire globe, measuring virtually every atmospheric feature that might affect the performance of the telescope. The site at Maunakea was selected because it’s climate, located above approxiamtely 40% of Earth’s atmosphere, is dry, stable, and cold. All of these factors are important characteristics for capturing sharp images and producing the best scientific research.
TMT’s location on Maunakea will maintain the US’s 150-year long leadership position in astronomy research, discovery, and innovation by leveraging the abilities of the TMT partners’ existing astronomy facilities in Hawaii including Keck, Canada France Hawaii Telescope and Subaru Observatories. These other facilities will provide the opportunity to coordinate and create synergy in scientific programs and instrumentation that otherwise would not be possible.
The TMT telescope is designed to provide extremely sharp images that will allow astronomers to see smaller and more distant objects with greater detail, unlike any other telescope existing. This represents the possibility of seeing farther into space and understanding father back in time to help answer fundamental questions about our universe. It’s likely that the TMT will lead to discoveries that we can’t even begin to imagine.
The FACTS on the issues of opposition
Mauna Kea Sacredness:
The closest documented religious site is located one mile away. There are only unsubstantiated claims that the actual site location on the summit has been used for any ceremony or ritual.
We don’t just trust the EPA approval, we dug deeper to confirm that the aquifer was 12 miles away, the telescope is powered by solar hot water systems, solar panels and energy-saving power device – not a nuclear reactor – and waste will be removed by truck to safely dispose of it.
It’s not just the 140 new jobs the TMT itself creates, but the opportunity for Hawaii’s underrepresented students to get into 390 academic internships. Additionally, astronomy in Hawaii has the opportunity to exceed the $167 million that contributed to Hawaii’s economy in 2012.
Native Hawaiian Issues:
It was recognized in 1993 by the U.S Congress that the Hawaiian Kingdom was illegally overthrown a century earlier. Regardless, it is our belief that our ancestors knew the stars were the way to the future as indicated by the words of our own ali’i (rulers).
The opposition’s story is compelling to see in the media: kupuna being arrested for civil disobedience trying to honor their ancestors and beliefs. What isn’t being shown is all of the other kupuna who believe TMT is not just good for Hawaii, but what the mountain is meant for.
We invite you to ask the questions we had. We invite you to read through the details of the facts. In doing so, we know you will agree that TMT is not just great for science, but it is what our ancestors would have wanted for our people: a place as an innovative leader in the world.