To: Dr. Craig Foltz, ATST Program Manager October 22, 2006
National Science Foundation, Division of Astronomical Sciences
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 10045, Arlington VA 22230
From: Professor (Emeritus) Dick Mayer, Economics and Geography Tel.
1111 Lower Kimo Dr. Kula, Maui, HI 96790 firstname.lastname@example.org
RE: FEDERAL/STATE D.E.I.S. — ATST (Haleakala Solar Observatory)
I) General comments
II) A list of issues and deficiencies that need to be addressed in a FINAL .E.I.S.
I) General Comments
1) The views that I express below are my own and not necessarily those of any organization or association.
2) For many years I reviewed E.I.S. documents for the Environmental Center at UH Manoa. During that period I rarely saw an E.I.S. that was so obviously unfair to the spirit of the E.I.S. legislation as this 2006 ATST D.E.I.S. It is a one-sided defense of the proposed Solar Observatory. It seems more the product of a hired P.R. firm. The DEIS is a defense of the project’s impacts. It was NOT an E.I.S., as envisaged in the original enabling legislation. (Or, as the DEIS states on several occasions when there is an unmitagated problem, “that’s only a ‘subjective’ opinion.”)
I had hoped that this 2006 Federal/State D.E.I.S. would be an unbiased assessment. Unfortunately, the sheer size of the document in no way reflects a quality assessment of the environmental impact of the proposed project. In fact, the D.E.I.S. makes it very difficult for reviewers to detect the actual environmental impact of the proposed project.
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II) A list of issues that need to be further discussed or included in a FINAL .E.I.S.
1. SCOPEING MEETINGS There were problems with the scopeing meetings: the public was not well informed about the actual height of the telescope facility and the attached service building. In fact, it appears that there was an actual attempt to mislead the public. The photos and sketches shown to the public were all aerial shots which gave the impression that the telescope was actually shorter than the top of the mountain. (The telescope actually will rise to a height about 100′ above the highest natural point on the mountain!!) Furthermore, when asked the height of the telescope at the scopeing meeting, the figure given by the ATST spokesperson was approximately 93 feet; the actual height is approximately 50 percent greater.
The height of the service building was not given, and I do not believe it is even given in the DEIS although it appears that it too would violate the 35′ height limitation imposed by the Upcountry Community Plan Ordinance.
Because the public was mislead on the height, it was less able to comment accurately on the enormous visual impact of the planned facility. It was not until several weeks later that the Maui News reported accurately on the actual telescope height, too late for the scopeing meetings.
2. SITE SELECTION There are two separate problems with regard to the selection of sites:
A) Although the literature provided at one of the scopeing meetings indicated that there were advantages to constructing a ground-based telescope instead of a space-based telescope on a satellite, the DEIS neglected to even consider a space- based telescope as a potential site. It would seem that a space-based telescope would have many of the advantages which were found at Haleakala and would avoid the need for adaptive optics. A space-based solar telescope should BE included in the Final EIS as an alternative site.
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B) The DEIS has limited its evaluation only to the 18 acre site operated by the UH IfA. The DEIS then attempts to make a careful analysis between two almost similar
sites, both in the 18 acre HO location. Consequently, a potentially superior site,
perhaps in the saddle to the Southwest of the 18 acre site, was not even considered and certainly was not evaluated. This alternative site could potentially avoid many of the visual problems of being located so close to the Haleakala National Park. The site also may avoid some of the problems with Hawaiian cultural sites. It was not even investigated.
3. HEAT AVOIDANCE CAUSING EXCESSIVE HEIGHT Despite the fact that since 1996 there has been a 35′ height limit in the Upcountry Community Plan district, the proposed telescope would violate this ordinance. It would be the tallest building in Maui County. The DEIS describes the telescope’s “143 feet height” as being necessary to avoid being too close to the ground where there is considerable heat coming off of the dark lava rock.
In literature supplied at one of the scopeing meetings it was mentioned that a potential solution to the considerable ground heat would be the installation of a white apron extending approximately 10 meters from the telescope’s base. It is further stated that this white apron would provide numerous other benefits, such as containing spilt lubricating oil and collecting water runoff.
Unfortunately, this white apron was not discussed in the DEIS. If it had been included in the building design, evaluated and discussed, it might be possible to reduce the height of the telescope, maybe also the proposed illegally tall service building, and perhaps even the overall cost of the project. If the white apron were built, what would be the telescope height needed?
4. SPIRITUAL AND CULTURAL” SIGNIFICANCE I will limit my own comments about the “spiritual and cultural” significance of the Haleakala Summit site because so many others with far more knowledge will be commenting on this matter. However, I would encourage those who are evaluating the FEIS,
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to consider their own personal reaction if this telescope was being proposed to be located on the Mall in Washington D.C. in front of the Lincoln Memorial, or perhaps
at a site considered sacred to members of their own religion, such as on Calvary Hill in the city of Jerusalem, or besides the Wailing Wall also in Jerusalem, or in the
city of Mecca. (Why would these sites not even be considered as potential
locations for a grand scientific experiment that might benefit all of humankind?)
5. LAND OWNERSHIP When discussing the ownership of these lands, the DEIS indicates that the University of Hawaii was given these lands by Gov. Quinn’s Executive Order # 1987. The DEIS states on P. 1-5 that the U. H. Is now the “fee owner” of these lands.
What the DEIS neglects to point out is that the Hawaii State Governor may not have had the right to give away these lands in 1961 since neither he nor the State of Hawaii owned the lands. The lands at the summit of Haleakala are “ceded lands” which have numerous implications, not the least of which is the need by users to pay rent. Furthermore, the courts may rule someday that users of these lands may need to pay reparations to the Hawaiian Kingdom that was overthrown in January 1893 by United States naval forces.
6. OFF-SITE CONNECTIONS AND CUMULATIVE EFFECTS Several references are made in the DEIS to connections to off-site facilities. The references are to some kind of “base” for communication (p. 3-39) & (p. 4-43), to an off-site computer “server”, and to a vague facility where many of the telescope’s workers will be employed. Although the DEIS refers to these locations, there is no description or evaluation of these off-site locations. In fact, the DEIS says on page 4-43 that “The details of the connectivity have not yet been determined.” How then can the DEIS claim in the same section that there is “NO IMPACT”?
Is the connectivity referring to the military’s computer located in Kihei (South Maui)? To the Waiakoa Astronomy facility? To the new astronomy building being constructed in Kula Malu? All of these locations? Or none of them?
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Until the cumulative impacts of this project and its relation to other sites and over whose lands are understood, the EIS will be incomplete. For example, is the design and construction of the Kihei-Upcountry Highway connecting the ATST telescope to its military computer actually a portion of this project?
7. MILITARY RELATED COMPONENTS and SECURITY IMPLICATIONS In several places within the DEIS, there are indications that there may be military connections to this project. For example, there is a discussion of communication links via a fiber optic cable. Does this mean that this telescope will be digitally tied to the military computer located in Kihei (South Maui)? There is also mention made that the telescope will occasionally be serviced by the Air Force’s Mirror Coating Facility which is located at the Hawaii Observatory. Finally, the scientific results from the ATST’s observation and analysis of the “solar mass ejections” and solar wind would be of great use to the United States’ emerging “militarization of space”. Is the ATST actually part of the federal government’s military program?
The close ties of the ATST to the military will result in potential security concerns for the facility, the workers, the “connections” to other facilities, and one million plus tourists who visit the area. Security issues must be addressed in the Final EIS.
8. SCOPEING MEETING TRANSCRIPTS ARE ABSENT The final EIS should contain the complete, unedited, transcripts from each of the scopeing meetings held in 2005. During those meetings much valuable testimony was given by the public; a recorder was present and took down all the comments verbatim.
Specifically, I made comments at the meeting which are not included or reflected in the DEIS. Some of my comments are reflected in this letter; some are not, and should be placed on the record.
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9. ELECTRICITY UPGRADES AND THE MAUI RESIDENTS In the Executive Summary (ES 23 & 24) and on page 4-42 an upgrade to the MECO substation is mentioned. No mention is made as to who will pay for this upgrade. Will the burden fall on the general population of Maui who will see the capital cost of MECO rise, plus a subsequent increase in the community’s electric power rates?
10. CUMULATIVE IMPACTS FROM OTHER NEW ACTIVITIES Page 4-42 indicates that there are other projects in addition to the ATST: Pan-STARRS; NASA Transportable Laser Ranging System; and the AEOS Mirror Coating Facility. However, the DEIS is notably and very significantly silent on the cumulative impacts of these other projects and their interaction with the ATST. They are all being built on the same land parcel with federal funding, and there is NO DESCRIPTION OF CUMULATIVE IMPACTS (except for a new electric substation). None. There is also the nearby federally funded 100 foot Homeland Security tower.
Are there traffic concerns? Biological considerations? Cultural considerations? Disrupted view corridors? Etc. The final EIS should address these issues. Does each of them have a CDUA?
11. HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK IMPACTS A major deficiency of the DEIS is the inadequate treatment of the effects of the ATST on the Haleakala National Park. The National Park Service will be contributing its own comments on the DEIS. However, I would like to reinforce their concerns. The DEIS has trivialized the impact of the ATST with only minor references to the disruption to the view corridors and no mention of the reduced quality of the tourist experience.
The Red Hill lookout is the highest point on Haleakala. The proposed ATST site is a mere 1,500 feet from Red Hill where approximately one million tourists come each year to view one of the most beautiful and unique views on the planet. Even the astronauts who were planning to go to the moon came to this location because
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of its very special environment. Unfortunately, the DEIS grossly underestimates the impact of the “in-your-face” 143 feet high telescope and the adjacent service building. The Upcountry Community Plan states as a Land Use Policy (P. 18),“Recognize the value of open space, including agricultural lands and view planes to preserve the region’s rural character.”
Furthermore, the Red Hill overlook is located within the 55 db noise contour emanating from the construction of the ATST. Although this is shown on the map on page 4 – 50, and despite that this high noise level would be in “ exceedance of the state standard for maximum permissible daytime sound levels in class A zones”, the DEIS describes this as being “less than significant”! It is NOT.
These visual and oral disturbances (individually and in combination) of a major viewing site from a United States National Park are unacceptable, and definitely a most significant environmental impact. The fact that the DEIS ignores or trivializes these impacts seriously undermines the quality of the entire document.
12. SUPER WHITE REFLECTIVE PAINT There is a reference to the super white paint being utilized on the telescope. However I could find no discussion of the impact of that white paint on the visibility of the telescope. In discussions during the scopeing, it was pointed out that the white paint would be “extremely reflective”, much more so than the neighboring AEOS telescope. Consequently, the visual impact of the 143 feet high ATST will be amplified by its reflected radiance. The final EIS must report on this affect.
13. ECONOMIC IMPACTS ON MAUI’S TOURIST INDUSTRY It is expected that an EIS will examine carefully the economic impacts of a proposed project. The ATST DEIS is woefully lacking in economic analysis. It does not even describe the major basic economic activity on Maui, the industry which brings in most of the income and provides most of the jobs, namely tourism. I could not find in the entire DEIS even a single reference to tourism, tourist employment, and tourism dependency.
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(The employment figures on Page 3 – 46 hide, rather than point out, the significant and vital role of tourism.)
If the tourism industry had been accurately considered in the DEIS, it would have indicated that Maui Island has for many years been considered the “Number One” tourist destination island in the whole world. (See last ten years of Conde Nastmagazine’s selections.) Tourists come to Maui for both the special cultural experience as well as the incredible scenic beauty of the island. The summit of Haleakala is probably the most visited spot on the island, and at the summit lookout the ATST will be a direct assault on that tourist experience. There will be consequences: a serious erosion of the visual experience. This is not just some mere “subjective” observation, as the DEIS attempts to portray the view plane. It is why more than a million people each year come to see the views. It is why there is a substantial Haleakala summit tour business.
Moreover, the tranquility of the overlook will be engulfed by the nearby construction noise. And finally, and not insignificantly, tourist traffic up the mountain will be seriously impacted by the very heavy, slow-moving concrete trucks that will be unable to pull-over to allow a long line of tourist cars to pass. (Only vague mitigative measures are provided.)
All of these effects will impact the quality of Maui’s tourism industry. Consequently, there may be fewer tourists coming to Maui, less money being spent and less jobs available. It is inappropriate that the DEIS has totally neglected to even mention this, Maui’s major industry. I expect the Final EIS to comprehensively study the impact of the ATST on the tourist experience and tourist industry.
In this regard the (Upcountry) Makawao-Pukalani-Kula Community Plan states (P. 12), “this Community Plan region is the home of significant resources, including water shed areas and the Haleakala National Park, which is significant in terms of its resource preservation, enhancement and protection values. From an economic standpoint, the National Park is viewed as an important component of the region’s economy.”
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14. EXCAVATED SOIL On pages 2 – 24 and 2 – 26 there seems to be some confusion as to what will happen with the excavated soil from the proposed site. It is suggested that it will be deposited at site A. However site A has been given two different functions: as a site for soil placement, and as the “construction staging” area . Which is it?
15. RESIDENT AND COMMUNITY PREFERENCE FOR RURAL AMBIENCE There is a strong feeling among residents in the surrounding community that this area should NOT be impacted by urban, large or industrial-type facilities. These feelings have been expressed in the vision of the Kula Community Association (which includes the ATM site within its community). The KCA vision statement reads as follows: “The vision of the Kula Community Association is to preserve open space, support agriculture, maintain a rural residential atmosphere, and to work together as a community.”
These sentiments also form a basis for the legally adopted and enforceable (Upcountry) Makawao-Pukalani-Kula Community Plan which governs the use of land in the region which includes the summit of Haleakala and the ATST site. It states as a problem (P. 11), “LOSS OF RURAL CHARACTER. One of the primary attributes which make the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula region unique to the island is the rural and serene environment which defines Upcountry Maui’s character. The loss of this rural ambiance is of significant concern to the region’s residents.”
As a Policy and Objective under Economic Activity, it states on page 17,“Recognize the rural, open space character of the Upcountry region as an economic asset of the island.”
16. MASTER PLAN FOR THE WHOLE SUMMIT AND FOR ALL THE ACTIVITIES The (Upcountry) Makawao-Pukalani-Kula Community Plan which governs the use of land in the region that includes the ATST site, the whole UH IfA site, the Haleakala summit, and the Haleakala National Park indicates the direction for use of the environment. It states clearly on Page 24 as the Goal for the Environment,
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“ENVIRONMENT Goal Protection of Upcountry’s natural resources and environment as a means of preserving and enhancing the region’s unique beauty, serenity, ecology, and productivity, in order that future generations may enjoy and appreciate an environment of equal or higher quality.”
To achieve this Goal, it specifies an Objective and Policy (P. 25), “Encourage Federal, State and County cooperation in the preparation of a comprehensive Haleakala summit master plan to promote orderly and sensitive development which is compatible with the natural and native Hawaiian cultural environment of Haleakala National Park.”
In the year 2001 the Maui County Council passed Resolution 01-45 entitled, “Urging the State of Hawaii to Fund Master Planning for Haleakala”. Unfortunately, to-date the Master Plan is only for the 18 acre IfA site. There is an obvious need to plan not just the IfA 18 acres, but the whole summit region of Haleakala. Only in this way will the interaction among the various activities be known and the problems mitigated. It is equally obvious that this DEIS has yet to grasp the multiple impacts of the ATST on other activities at the summit.
17. 35-FOOT HEIGHT LIMITATION THROUGHOUT THE REGION The height and the scale of the proposed 143′ ATST facility and the approximately 70′ adjoining service building violate an important design guideline contained within the (Upcountry) Makawao-Pukalani-Kula Community Plan. In fact, the DEIS totally ignores this guideline, perhaps because its impact can NOT be mitigated by the proposed project. The guideline (Page 30) reads as follows, “Enforce a two-story or 35-foot height limitation throughout the region, except for public/quasi-public uses such as auditoriums, gymnasiums, and fire stations.”
Since I was vice chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee that recommended the restrictive guideline, I know that the guideline clearly applies to the ATST facility.
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Although it is a publically owned facility, it is not one needed by the general public as do those in the examples given (auditoriums, gymnasiums, and fire stations).
Since the Community Plan is a Maui County ordinance and because a CDUA permit requires that every application must conform to ALL State and County ordinances, the ATST would be ineligible to receive a CDUA permit from DLNR. (NOTE: Neighboring HO telescopes, such as the 110′ AEOS telescope were permitted before the adoption of the 35′ maximum in the 1996 Community Plan.)
Mahalo for your consideration of these comments; I look forward to the Final EIS response.
Prof. (Emeritus) Richard “Dick” Mayer
1111 Lower Kimo Dr. Kula, Maui, HI 96790 email@example.com
PERSONAL NOTE Thank you for your attention to and response to these concerns. The rural atmosphere of the Upcountry region is cherished by Upcountry residents whose wishes are clearly expressed in the (Upcountry) Makawao-Pukalani-Kula Community Plan, as well as in the Kula Community Association vision.
CC. Office of Environmental Quality Control, Hawai’I Dept. of Health
Mr. Mike Mayberry, UH IfA
Dr. Charles Fein, KC Environmental Inc.
Mr. Michael Foley, Maui County Planning Department