The UC Board of Regents are meeting and withdrawing from TMT is on the agenda!
Deadline to submit an email for the next meeting is Tuesday, March 16, 2021 5 pm PT.
Instructions to submit written testimony to the UC Board of Regents:
A few additional notes for those sending a written testimony:
Deadline to submit an email for the next UC Board of Regents meeting is Tuesday, March 16th 5pm PT.
Each communication should include a subject line identifying the specific agenda item being addressed; failure to do so could prevent delivery of your comments.
Emails received will be included, as appropriate, in the Secretary's summary of communications to the Regents.
Every email will not be responded to individually; however, emails will be shared with Regents and, when appropriate, forwarded to appropriate University administrative offices.
Copy and paste the sample email template below or write your own note:
Dear UC Board of Regents and President Drake,
I am writing to address UC’s continued involvement in the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea as it relates to agenda item P4, “University of California Efforts to Combat Climate Change.” I first want to commend the UC Regents and President for their Sustainability Policy across the UC System. However, I urge you to consider your sustainability practices beyond the buildings of the UC with your continued involvement in the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT). TMT, a project that “violates the norms of environmental law” (Hawai‘i Supreme Court Justice Michael Wilson, 2018), is currently planned to be built on Mauna Kea, a conservation district that is meant to be protected for ecological, historical, and cultural preservation.
The TMT itself will have a short life cycle, but a long-term social and environmental impact on the Hawaiian people and the fragile ecosystem on Mauna Keaʻs summit and aquifer. Each time a new telescope is built, the demolition project shaves down the mountain top which impacts the weather patterns that help to create the natural watershed residing inside Mauna Kea. The continued delays of this project will make this telescope obsolete by the time it gets built. However, the lasting impact on waterways, plants, and animals will forever be devastating to the Kanaka Maoli. Furthermore, the UC is currently in a budget shortfall during a global pandemic. As the estimated construction cost of this telescope has risen to $2.4 billion, it is completely impractical for the UC to continue investing millions in TMT, a poorly planned project that will continue to waste important university funds with no end in sight.
I’d also like to remind President Drake that, as president, you have the power to end the UC's involvement in TMT at any time (page 10, section 7, B.4-a). The University of California’s continued involvement in TMT will only further damage your relationships with Indigenous communities. I urge you to stand on the right side of history, champion Indigenous rights, and withdraw from TMT on Mauna Kea immediately.
At the Board of Regents meeting on July 30, 2020, the UC heard from Native Hawaiian elders and cultural practitioners, some of which had been arrested protecting this land in July of 2019. During this meeting, the UC was informed that Mauna Kea is a conservation district for historic and ecological purposes. It is also a sacred place of worship for the Native Hawaiian people. Currently, TMT is proceeding without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous people of Hawai’i. The issue of consent and concern that the TMT Project will “restrict the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly [and] religious practice” has been raised by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racism in a letter presented to the Regents on January 22, 2020.
A clear indication of the TMT’s lack of consent can be seen in the strong majority opposition the project has received from Native Hawaiians. This is evidenced by months of protests and, most recently, by an independent study that found that 88% of Native Hawaiians oppose the construction of TMT on Mauna Kea as of 2019. Additionally, the project has facilitated an increase of systemic violence and racialized policing in Hawai’i, resulting in the arrests of 38 Native Hawaiian elders. Thousands of Native Hawaiians - the elderly and the young - have continually and peacefully blocked access to the construction site since July of 2019.
While I commend the UC for it’s recent fossil fuel divestment, it is important to acknowledge the ecological harm this development project would cause through mountaintop removal. This project would decimate 5 acres of conservation land that is home to endemic species found nowhere else on earth. It would also be a clear example of environmental racism and human rights violations that would cause serious harm to the UC’s international reputation, especially among Indigenous communities.
Without the consent of the Native Hawaiian people or your students, the UC is currently using UC student money to finance a construction project that would cause permanent harm to the Native Hawaiian people. It is also moving forward with the destruction of land marked for historical preservation and ecological conservation.
I demand that the UC Board of Regents and President Drake continue the UC’s bold stance on racial justice and publicly withdraw all support for TMT on Mauna Kea immediately. Please prioritize the very immediate needs of UC students and the importance of building trust with Native students, alumni and the First Peoples of California.