Haleakala Telescope Testimony by Dick Mayer

To: Dr. Craig Foltz, ATST Program Manager June 22, 2009
National Science Foundation, Division of Astronomical Sciences
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 1045, Arlington VA 22230

From: Professor (Emeritus) Dick Mayer, Economics and Geography Tel.

RE: FED./STATE SUPPLEMENTAL D.E.I.S. — ATST (Haleakala Solar Observatory)

1. The views that I express below are my own and not necessarily those of any organization or association.

2. SCOPING MEETINGS There were problems with the scoping 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 scoping meeting, the figure given by the ATST spokesperson was approximately 93 feet; the actual height is approximately 50 percent greater.

Because the public was mis-lead 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 scoping meetings.

3. SITE SELECTION 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”. The Sup-DEIS does not adequately explain why the space-based telescope is not completely evaluated as one of the alternative sites. A space-based solar telescope should BE included in the Final EIS as an alternative site.

4. SITE SELECTION The Sup-DEIS has limited its evaluation only to the 18 acre site operated by the UH IfA. The Sup-DEIS then attempts to make a careful analysis

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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 only mentioned and certainly was not seriously 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 prematurely dismissed. Being located in the 18 acre site requires a CDUA permit, just as a site in the “saddle” would require a CDUA permit.

5. 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 Sup-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 scoping 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 Sup-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 needed telescope height?

6. 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 Final EIS, to consider

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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. (Would these sites even be considered as potential locations for a grand scientific experiment that might benefit all of humankind? If the answer is “NO!”, then why is Haleakala even being considered?)

7. LAND OWNERSHIP When discussing the ownership of these lands, the Sup-DEIS indicates that the University of Hawaii was given these lands by Gov. Quinn’s Executive Order # 1987. The Sup-DEIS states that the U. H. is now the “fee owner” of these lands.

What the Sup-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 a “fair-market” rent. The University of Hawaii pays only $1 per year for the whole 18+ acres. 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.

8. OFF-SITE CONNECTIONS AND CUMULATIVE EFFECTS Several references are made in the Sup-DEIS to physical connections to off-site facilities. The references are to some kind of “base” for communication, to an off-site computer “server”, and to a vague facility at an undetermined site where many of the telescope’s workers will be employed. Although the Sup-DEIS refers to these locations, there is no description or evaluation of these off-site locations. In fact, the Sup-DEIS says that

the details of the connectivity have not yet been determined. How then can the Sup-DEIS claim in the same section that there is “NO IMPACT”?

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Is the connectivity referring to the military’s computer located in Kihei (South Maui)? To the Waiakoa Astronomy facility in Kula? To the new astronomy building constructed in Kula Malu in Pukalani? All of these locations? Or none of them?

Until the cumulative impacts of this project and its use of other sites, the EIS will be incomplete. For example, is the design and construction of the “military financed” Kihei-Upcountry Highway connecting the ATST telescope to the Kihei computer actually a portion of this project?

Without the often mentioned support sites (outside the 18 acre site) being located, described and evaluated, the section on and analysis of “cumulative impacts” is woefully incomplete.

9. MILITARY RELATED COMPONENTS and SECURITY IMPLICATIONS In several places within the Sup-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 was also mention made that the telescope lenses will periodically 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.

10. SCOPING MEETING TRANSCRIPTS The Final EIS should contain the complete, unedited, transcripts from each of the Sup-DEIS meetings held in 2009. During those meetings much valuable testimony was given by the public; a recorder was present and took down all the comments verbatim.

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11. ELECTRICITY UPGRADES AND THE MAUI RESIDENTS An upgrade to MECO’s HO sub-station is mentioned. However, 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, with a subsequent increase in resident’s electric power rates?

12. CUMULATIVE IMPACTS FROM OTHER NEW FEDERAL and UH ACTIVITIESThere are other projects in addition to the ATST: Pan-STARRS; NASA Transportable Laser Ranging System; and the AEOS Mirror Coating Facility.

Are there traffic concerns? Biological considerations? Cultural considerations? Disrupted view corridors? Etc.? Does each of them have a separate CDUA? If yes, how will the DLNR Board be able to consider cumulative impacts?

Since these are all on the same University of Hawaii leased site, Hawaii HRS 343 requires a cumulative impact review/analysis.

13. HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK IMPACTS A major deficiency of the Sup-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 Sup-DEIS has trivialized the impact of the ATST on the disruption to the view plane and the reduced quality of the tourist (and resident) 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 over 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 of its very special environment. Unfortunately, the Sup-DEIS grossly underestimates the impact of the “in-your-face” 143 feet high telescope and the adjacent service building. Maui County law in the form of 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.”

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Furthermore, the Red Hill overlook is located within the 55 db noise contour emanating from the 7 years of the ATST construction. Although this is noise level revealed, it is in “exceedance of the state standard for maximum permissible daytime sound levels in class A zones”. The Sup-DEIS describes this as being only disturbance. It is NOT!

And furthermore, there is the matter of the 250′ crane and a number of smaller 100′ cranes that will be utilized for many years during construction. These will be a further blight on the visual enjoyment of this very special place.

These visual and aural disturbances (individually and in combination) at the major viewing site in a United States National Park are unacceptable, and definitely a most significant environmental impact. The fact that the Sup-DEIS trivializes these impacts (in the form of its flawed visitor survey) seriously undermines the quality of the entire document. Over the course of 7 year construction period, over 7,000,000 visitors will be impacted.

14. VISITOR SURVEY IS FLAWED As noted in the Sup-DEIS (See 3-46), Haleakala National Park (HALE) has “indicated that [the visitors survey you included in the SDEIS] is significantly flawed and likely biased and there are significant technical errors in the instrument and related reporting.” HALE further asserted that “the conclusions are based on an insufficiently designed and administered survey.”

This survey should not even be considered in the Final EIS. If you do insist on including it, however, then you must also include the potential impact of your

proposal that was part of this survey to allow those interested in touring the ATST facility to do so, which apparently is up to 75% of the 1.7 million visitors that come to the Park each year, as set out in the survey. Where is the impact study on the effect these people touring the facility will have on the noise, on the land, on the Kanaka Maoli Practitioners trying to practice at the ahus, on the parking lot, on the traffic, etc?

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You cannot make a bold statement that most visitors would not “care” if the facility is built based upon information gained from this flawed survey. Furthermore, you should not be able to use such faulty reasoning as a basis to try to offset the clear major adverse long-term effect this project will have on the Maui visitor industry, which is already declining.

15. SUPER WHITE REFLECTIVE PAINT The Sup-DEIS is silent on the type of paint to be used in coating the exterior of the telescope facility. However, it was made clear in previous meetings that a “super-bright” white paint was being utilized on the telescope’s exterior.

I could find no discussion in the Sup-DEIS of the impact of that white paint on the visibility of the telescope. In discussions during the scoping, it was pointed out that

the white paint would be “extremely reflective”, much more so than the highly visible, 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 undesired effect.

16. 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 Sup-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. Is there even a reference to tourism, tourist employment, and tourism dependency? NO!

If the tourism industry had been accurately considered in the Sup-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

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consequences: a serious erosion of the visual experience. This is not just some mere “subjective” observation, as the Sup-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 and other even heavier and wider trucks that will be unable to pull-over to allow a long line of tourist cars to pass.

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 fewer jobs available. It is inappropriate that the Sup-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 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.”

17. EXCAVATED SOIL 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 a nearby site. However, the site has been given two different functions: as a site for soil placement, and as the “construction staging” area. Which is it?

18. RESIDENT AND COMMUNITY PREFERENCE FOR RURAL AMBIENCE There is a strong feeling among residents in the surrounding community that this whole area

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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 ATST 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 Maui County General Plan (of which the Upcountry Makawao-Pukalani-Kula Community Plan is a component). The Community Plan governs the use of land in the district 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.”

Furthermore, 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.”

Consequently the proposed ATST would violate Maui County law.

19. 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,

ENVIRONMENT Goal Protection of Upcountry’s natural resources and environment as a means of preserving and enhancing the region’s unique beauty,

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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. This Supplement to the original DEIS has yet to grasp the multiple impacts of the ATST on other activities at the summit.

20. DRAFT MAUI ISLAND PLAN After conducting numerous studies and hearing public comments from people throughout the island over a three year period, the General Plan Advisory Committee (a twenty-five member citizen panel appointed by the either the Maui County Mayor or County Council to set out recommendations for the Maui County General Plan for the County of Maui for the next 20 years) adopted a county wide policy plan that includes language to “immediately provide and encourage laws to preserve and enhance the summit of Haleakala with no new buildings.” [Emphasis added] (Policy No. 5031).

21. 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 Sup-DEIS totally

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21. 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 Sup-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. Although it is a publically owned facility, it is not one used 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 appropriate revisions in the Final EIS.


Prof. (Emeritus) Richard “Dick” Mayerdickmayer@earthlink.net

1111 Lower Kimo Dr. Kula, Maui, HI 96790

CC. Office of Environmental Quality Control, Hawai’i Dept. of Health

Mr. Mike Mayberry, UH IfA

Dr. Charles Fein, KC Environmental Inc.

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