Judge overturns BLNR’s approval of TMT sublease for Mauna Kea telescope
HILO — A Hilo Circuit Court judge on Thursday overturned the state’s approval of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s sublease for Mauna Kea.
The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which was representing plaintiff E. Kalani Flores, said Judge Greg Nakamura ruled the state Board of Land and Natural Resources violated their client’s constitutional rights for rejecting his request for a contested case hearing before it consented to the agreement in 2014.
The sublease is between TMT International Observatory and the University of Hawaii at Hilo, which holds a master lease for much of the mountain. At the time, the Land Board said the decision was a matter of internal management, not subject to the quasi-judicial hearings.
“To me, it confirms that Native Hawaiian cultural practices have a right to be involved in these agency decisions,” said NHLC attorney David Kopper. “And their interests are no less important than other commercial interests.”