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Know the West

Mauna Kea telescope project halted after months of protests

Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige announced that law enforcement would vacate the area.


An artist rendering of the Thirty Meter Telescope. After months of protests at Mauna Kea, Hawai‘i, where its construction was planned, the project has halted.
TMT International Observatory

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Starting last summer, thousands of Native Hawai‘ians blocked the sole access road to Hawai‘i’s largest mountain, Mauna Kea, the proposed site of the Thirty Meter Telescope. Astronomers say the billion-dollar project would offer unparalleled views of the cosmos, and the state issued a building permit for it last year. The mountain, which is on state public land, is sacred to Native Hawai‘ians, however, and the protests raised issues regarding the development and use of public lands that are important to Native people (“The legacy of colonialism on public lands created the Mauna Kea conflict,” 8/6/19).


In December, Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige said that state law enforcement would vacate the mountain, according to CNN. The company behind the project will not proceed with construction for now, though Mauna Kea remains its preferred location for the telescope, and Ige said that the state would support the company should it resume work. Meanwhile, KITV4 Island News, a local television station, reported that protesters would be leaving the area, which has reopened to public access.