Mamala Hoa takes legal action to save Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea plan sparks suit
by Peter Sur
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
Published: Friday, October 2, 2009 10:54 AM HST
Telescope foes want summit restored
Hawaiian and environmental advocates have appealed the state land board's approval of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Third Circuit Court challenges the unanimous vote of the Board of Land and Natural Resources on April 9 to approve the CMP, which provides a framework for managing the cultural and natural resources of Mauna Kea.

The plaintiffs are Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, the Hawaii chapter of the Sierra Club, and former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Clarence Ching. They ask the court to vacate the BLNR's April 9 vote and require the land board to grant the plaintiffs' petition for a contested case hearing on the CMP. They are also asking for attorneys' fees and costs and any relief the court deems proper.
The university, the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy and the BLNR are all named as defendants. They have 20 days to file a response.

The request for a contested case stems from a BLNR meeting Aug. 28 in Honolulu, when the board denied to grant standing to the plaintiffs, who were -requesting a contested case hearing on the CMP's approval. The board's vote followed a recommendation by the Department of Land and Natural Resources to deny the request for standing. A contested case hearing would have given the land board an opportunity to reconsider their April vote.

"Mauna Kea holds a place of paramount interest in Hawaiian culture," the plaintiffs contend, maintaining they do have standing to request a contested case hearing because the CMP will affect their rights.

The UH Office of Mauna Kea Management could not be reached for comment. UH-Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng was aware of the appeal but could not comment because she had not seen it yet.

The lawsuit alleges that the Aug. 28 meeting violated an administrative rule requiring that hearings related to conservation districts be held in the county in which the land is located, and that inadequate public notice was given. They say that the CMP relies on the University of Hawaii 2000 Master Plan for Mauna Kea, which was itself never adopted by the land board, even though "the BLNR has a duty to substantially evaluate all aspects of management plans submitted for its approval and to involve the public in that process."

The lawsuit also says the board violated the procedure for contested cases by approving the CMP before deciding whether any of the plaintiffs had standing to request a contested case hearing.

Except for KAHEA, the plaintiffs in this case are the same ones who successfully sued the University of Hawaii in 2004 over a plan to build "outrigger" telescopes on Mauna Kea, and in 2007 forced the drafting of the current management plan.

A comprehensive management plan must be approved before the land board can issue any new conservation district use permits.

If the approval of the current management plan is reversed, then the land board cannot approve any new telescopes, including the Thirty Meter Telescope, on Mauna Kea.

"The board's decision undermines the basic right everyone in Hawaii has to stand up for their environment, their culture and their religion," said Kealoha Pisciotta, the president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou. "Despite extensive evidence on the record of our cultural, spiritual, environmental and recreational connections to Mauna Kea, the board is now claiming we suddenly have no right to ensure it is protected from bulldozers."

"UH and the land board are pushing this new management plan because they want to guarantee building another massive telescope on this sacred site," said Ching. "But they can't do anything until they first deal with the adverse impacts of all the telescopes they have built on our summit over the last 30 years. These telescopes have leveled cinder cones, dumped human waste and toxic chemicals over our aquifer, and impaired cultural practices on the summit. The courts agree, it is time for this to stop."

E-mail Peter Sur at psur@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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Comment by Royal Order of Kamehameha I on October 4, 2009 at 10:34pm
Pono Kealoha, mahalo for the video.
Comment by Pono Kealoha on October 4, 2009 at 9:56pm
Comment by Kaohi on October 4, 2009 at 12:48pm
Peter Sur wrote:

"UH and the land board are pushing this new management plan because they want to guarantee building another massive telescope on this sacred site," said Ching. "But they can't do anything until they first deal with the adverse impacts of all the telescopes they have built on our summit over the last 30 years. These telescopes have leveled cinder cones, dumped human waste and toxic chemicals over our aquifer, and impaired cultural practices on the summit. The courts agree, it is time for this to stop."

When you fraternize 'nicely' with the enemy they kaka on you and ones values. If one reads the Morinaga posting it gives the whole game and rules to play by and how do we cope from that point on? Kaohi
Comment by Pomaikaiokalani on October 4, 2009 at 9:21am
ALOHA Kakou, e Ke Aupuni Moi O Hawaii, All future "desecration" at Mauna Kea be stopped.
Long Live The Hawaiian Kingdom, o Pomai

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