UH Comments

Environmental Center
December 9, 2006

Dr. Craig Foltz
National Science Foundation
Division of Astronomical Sciences
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 1045
Arlington, VA  22230

Dear Dr. Foltz:

Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST)
Haleakalā, Maui

The NSF, through an award to the National Solar Observatory (NSO), is proposing to fund construction of the proposed ATST at the University of Hawai‘i Institute for Astronomy (IfA), Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory (HO) site, on the island of Maui, Hawai‘i.  An extensive campaign of worldwide site testing has identified Haleakalâ Observatory as the optimal location for this next-generation solar observing facility.  With its unprecedented 4.2-m (165-inch) aperture, advanced optical technology, and state-of-the-art instrumentation, the proposed ATST would be an indispensable tool for exploring and understanding physical processes on the sun that ultimately Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (HRS 343 DEIS) affect Earth.  The telescope enclosure and a support facility would be placed at one of two identified sites within the existing observatory boundaries.  The DEIS addresses both of these sites and the potential environmental impacts of on-site construction, installation, and operation of this proposed new solar telescope.

This review was conducted with the assistance of Kiope Raymond (Hawaiian Studies, Maui Community College) and Richard Mayer (Economic/Geography Emeritus, Maui Community College).

General Comment

Our main concern is with the Cultural Impact Assessment and we will comment on that issue at some length below.  We would like to acknowledge that the site chosen is in an area that was set aside for research in astronomy.  However, the summit of Haleakalā was sacred to Hawaiians long before the site was designated.  However, we would encourage those who are evaluating the FEIS, 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.

In addition to our comments on cultural impacts, we have noted a number of other issues to be addressed in the FEIS following our lengthy discussion on cultural impacts.

Cultural Impact Assessment

Our major observation is the overall lack of adequate adherence to the June 2004 Hawai`i State Guidelines for Assessing Cultural Impacts of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC).  There are six general recommendations the Environmental Council makes to preparers of assessments analyzing cultural impacts.  There are also 11 protocols that should be addressed in the assessment concerning cultural impacts.  We believe that most recommendations and protocols outlined by the OEQC are inadequately addressed.

Of equal concern is the ample evidence that the Cultural Assessment is inadequate in providing enough information to compel a reader to clearly understand the spiritual sacredness and cultural relationship of Hawaiians to Haleakalā as a whole; and the summit area in particular.

Finally, there is evidence of an awkward bias on the part of the authors of the Cultural Assessment, apparent in their language and conclusion that does not seem appropriate when assessing a cultural impact.  The bias indicates a predetermined finding that, “…no matter what the objections to the building of the ATST on Haleakalā, it will get built anyway….”  We point out that that decision to implement the proposed action does not rest with the preparer(s) of the Cultural Assessment!  Therefore, because of the inadequate and/or biased preparation of the document, we believe that federal and state decision makers cannot make a sound, fully informed decision regarding the cultural impacts of ATST.

Specific Objections:

  • Inadequate discussion with Native Hawaiian organizations.  Glaring by its omission is lack of contact with the United States Office for Native Hawaiian Affairs, Department of the Interior; created in 2005:  “SEC. 4. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OFFICE FOR NATIVE HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS (a) IN GENERAL – There is established within the Office of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior the United States Office for Native Hawaiian Affairs.  (b) DUTIES OF THE OFFICE – The United States Office for Native Hawaiian Affairs shall – (1) effectuate and coordinate the special trust relationship between the Native Hawaiian people and the United States through the Secretary, and with all other Federal agencies.” (//www.doi.gov)


  • Inadequate reference to materials such as prior land use proposals, decisions, and rulings which pertain to the study area, or are inextricably linked to IfA-related Hawaiian Cultural Assessment issues.  For example, there are numerous instances where culturally relevant information is provided in the three documents cited below, but were not included in the ATST Cultural Assessment
  • The Cultural Assessment of Faulkes Telescope by McGuire and Hammatt, 2000.
  • The Kū i ka Mauna Traditional Practices Assessment by CKM, 2002.
  • T he Kü i ka Mauna Cultural Resources Evaluation by CKM, 2003.
  • Inadequate reference to the 2005 UH Institute for Astronomy Long Range Development Plan. Even though that document’s section on Hawaiian cultural practices contains some inaccuracies and insufficient specificity it still should have been cited in the cultural impact assessment for the ATST.
  • No or inadequate reference to the BLNR CDUA findings for Mauna Kea.  The Mauna Kea observatories are also under the auspices of the IfA. And, there are numerous similar cultural issues which can be found in the website:



  • No or inadequate reference to Hawaiian genealogy indexes.


  • No or inadequate reference to Hawaiian Mähele, land court, census and tax records.
  • No or inadequate primary source materials consulted such as other previously published or recorded ethnographic interviews and oral histories, community studies, old maps, photographs, newspaper articles, and visitor journals regarding Haleakalä and especially the summit area.  For example, the Craigiela House visitor journal 4/23/1902 (at the Maui Historical Society), references a cave named Anamakauahi, a seven hour hike from Ulupalakua (south) up what is now known as the Skyline Trail, perhaps near Kolekole. Further research may uncover historically relevant materials regarding Kolekole.  Also, inadequate discussion, especially regarding the Upcountry Community Plan and other Maui County Plans, Bishop Museum and Maui Historical Society Photo Collections, or Hawaiian Language Newspaper articles referencing Haleakalä.


  • Inadequate reference to secondary source materials such as historical, sociological, and anthropological texts, manuscripts, and similar materials regarding Haleakalä and especially the summit area.  As examples:
  • No use or reference to Martha W. Beckwith’s Hawaiian Mythology, and references therein to demigod Māui exploits in Hawai`i and Oceania; especially relating to slowing the sun.


  • No use or reference to Elspeth P. Sterling’s Sites of Maui, with its extensive references to Mäui/Maui/Haleakalä and relevant bibliography.
  • No or inadequate reference to heretofore published legends. See previously mentioned Faulkes assessment by McGuire and Hammatt and their research on “Legends That Mention Haleakalä.”  It includes approximately 50 stories from at least 10 different sources; listed by story topic.


  • None or inadequate use of Pan-Pacific literature from Mangareva, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, and Samoa referencing the related exploits of the demigod Mäui.
  • Inadequate use of dictionaries for place names and inadequate consistency regarding definitions of cultural use terminology.  All scholastic Hawaiian dictionaries are available online at //www.wehewehe.org


  • No references to proverbs and poetical sayings regarding Haleakalä to confirm cultural importance.  See Pukui Ölelo Noeau.
  • Inadequate references to other Hawaiian deities such as Poliahu, Käne, Kü, Lono, or Kanaloa in their sun, wind, rain, snow, plant, bird, insect, etc. forms and the attendant religious, spiritual, and cultural importance to the project area


  • No or inadequate reference to spiritual connection to sky father/earth mother (Wäkea and Papa) and therefore connection to atmosphere (lewa lani), mountaintops, and land masses of the entire archipelago.
  • No discussion of the 1961 Executive Order of then Governor Quinn:  “So long as Government Survey Triangulation Station “Kolekole” remains in use, there shall not be erected any structure exceeding in height to obstruct or to block the lines of sight from said Station.”  Also, inadequate discussion of implications of the Executive Order to historical, present, and possible future IfA (or other user) fees connected to HO in context of Native Hawaiian Ceded Lands trust for cultural preservation or other uses.  For example, most recently, Pan STARR 1’s consortium will contribute $10 million dollars for its operation.  Why no discussion on possibilities for Hawaiian cultural revitalization via consortium user fees?  //www.hawaii.edu/cgi-bin/uhnews?20061003170512


  • No interviews were conducted with previous interviewees or any Hawaiian Studies faculty of the University of Hawai’i system.
  • Inadequate discussion of the impact to the view plane looking up the mountain from Department of Hawaiian Homes Lands at Kahkikinui.  There is no rendering of the proposed ATST from Kahikinui or other places along Southeast Maui coastline where current Mees Solar Observatory can be seen and where ATST will be seen by native Hawaiians.


  • The conclusion of the cultural impact report needs clarification.  For example, the first paragraph is contradictory.  The first sentence states “any building…is an intrusion on the sacredness and spirituality…” but then the second sentence states, “One must find the balance of building.…”?  Can one either build on sacred ground or not?  The conditions for such activity are not articulated.  The quotation “…protect at best the cultural impact and methods used to mitigate these impacts.” needs re-wording or clarification.  It reads that the impact and methods used to mitigate the impacts need to be protected; not the culture.  The second paragraph assumes saying prayers to Pele will mitigate impact of digging into her kinolau. (Kinolau is the Hawaiian word for the form(s) a Hawaiian deity might assume.  One of Pele’s forms is lava.)  That is untrue and unacceptable in Pele worship.  Paragraph three assumes construction will take place and so mitigation includes awareness of cultural rules by taking sense of place classes.  The conclusion assumes mitigation is a forgone conclusion and does not allow for the no action alternative; another possible solution.  If the cultural concerns are, in fact, of great sacred significance, it is inappropriate to not list no action as a possible solution.  The last paragraph also assumes mitigation, but does not articulate in detail how all the rock should be handled when moved and re-sited.  Not all of the ~ 4,500 cubic feet of rock could fit on Reber circle.  The conclusion does not state the conditions to be imposed on use/protection of the rest of the rock/soil when moved.  Can the IfA move rock/soil to build another structure?  Will rock/soil placed in any other area of HO remain there in perpetuity?
  • Eight (8) of the 24 bibliographic references are duplications.



In addition to the Cultural Resource Evaluation and Traditional Practices report, we raise these issues in the DEIS:

  • No discussion of IfA/Hawaiian cultural shared governance of HO in context of Ceded Lands.


  • No discussion of a Master Plan for the entire mountain, not just a Long Range Development Plan for the Ifa’s use of 18.66 acres.  As the IfA Self-Study of 2001 indicates, “The UH and the IfA have not been required to generate a multi-use Mauna Kea-style “master plan.”
  • Inadequate discussion of the cumulative effect of the current uses inside HO; and the communications, television, Coast Guard and other structures of the summit area.  National Park and Commercial (horse tours, bike tours, tourists, etc.) use impacting Native Hawaiian as they attempt to use the summit for spiritual/religious purposes cannot be overemphasized.


  • Inadequate discussion of possible impact on areas/property owners adjoining HO from a Hawaiian cultural perspective.
  • No or inadequate discussion of place names use for the summit; especially USGS quadrant versus ahupua`a, pointed out in the testimony by Mary Evanson in Vol. II Appendices of DEIS.


  • No discussion of parking for cultural practitioners w/in HO if more than 2-3 people are in attendance at ceremonies at either or both of the two shrines.

In summary, there is overall lack of inadequate adherence to the June 2004 Hawai`i State Guidelines for Assessing Cultural Impacts of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC).  Also, there is ample evidence that the Cultural Assessment is inadequate in providing enough information to compel a reader to clearly understand the spiritual sacredness and cultural relationship of Hawaiians to Haleakalā as a whole; and the summit area in particular.  Finally, it is my personal opinion that there is an awkward bias on the part of the authors of the Cultural Assessment, apparent in their language and conclusion that does not seem appropriate when assessing a cultural impact.

Haleakalā National Park Impacts

A major deficiency of the DEIS is the inadequate treatment of the effects of the ATST on the Haleakalā 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 Haleakalā.  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 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 (page 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.

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.

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 misled 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.

Land Ownership (p. 1-5)

Absent from the discussion of ownership of these lands is the problems of “ceded lands.”  The DEIS indicates that the University of Hawaii was given these lands by Governor Quinn’s Executive Order # 1987.  The DEIS states on pages 1-5 that the University 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 Haleakalā 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.

Coastal Zone Management Act, Chapter 205A, Hawaii Revised Statutes (p. 1-27)

Section 1.7.3 states in the last sentence that the “HO complex would not be the Coastal Zone Management Area (CZMA).”  The entire state of Hawaii is in the coastal zone for purposes of the CZMA.  The proposed project is not in the Special Management Area (SMA) as delineated under the CZMA.  The SMA is a strip of land along the coast and some streams usually up to 1000’ from the shoreline.  There are additional permit requirement placed on proposed projects in the SMA.  The proposed ATST is not in the SMA.



Department of Health Environmental Planning Office (p. 1-27 to 1-28)

The paragraph in section 1.7.5 describes the Office of Environmental Quality Control, an Office placed in the Department of Health for administrative purposes.  The Environmental Planning Office is a separate part of the Department of Health.  The heading of this section should be retitled Office of Environmental Quality Control.

Site Selection (p. 2-1)

There are two separate problems with regards to the selection of sites:

  • Although the literature provided at one of the scoping 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 Haleakalā and would avoid the need for adaptive optics.  A space-based solar telescope should be included in the Final EIS as an alternative site.


  • 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 Haleakalā National Park.  The site also may avoid some of the problems with Hawaiian cultural sites.  It was not even investigated.

Placement of Excess Soil (p. 2-23 to 2-26)

There seems to be some confusion as to what will happen with the excavated soil from the proposed site. On pages 2-24 and 2-26, 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?

East and West Ahu (p. 3-6 to 3-10)

The description and construction technique are related in many places in Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the DEIS.  In the space of the above cited pages, they are mentioned three separate times. Perhaps some of the redundancy can be reduced in the FEIS.

Infrastructure and Utilities (p. 4-42)

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?

On this same page is a brief discussion of other projects in addition to the ATST:  Pan-STARRS; NASA Transportable Laser Ranging System; and the AEOS Mirror Coating Facility.  However, these proposed facilities are not discussed in subsequent section on their cumulative impacts.  They are all being built on the same land parcel with federal funding, and should be part of a discussion on cumulative impacts at the very least on electrical power generation and use.  The FEIS should address the cumulative impacts of these planned for facilities.

Socioeconomic Impacts (p. 4-57 to 4-62)

Aside from the reference on page 3-45 that tourism is Maui largest industry there seems to be little discussion of the potential for the proposed project to impact the industry.  Might not a large telescope detract from the visitor’s experience at the summit of Haleakalā, among the most visited sites on Maui?  There should be a discussion of the impacts on the visitor and any economic effect it might have on Maui’s tourism industry as a whole, in the FEIS.

Appendix Reports

            The FEIS should contain the complete, unedited, transcripts from each of the scoping 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, comments made at the meeting which are not included or reflected in the DEIS should be placed on the record in an appendix section in the FEIS.


Thank you for the opportunity to review this Draft EIS.



Peter Rappa
Environmental Review Coordinator


cc:        OEQC
Dr. Charlie Fein, KC Environmental, Inc.
Michael Maberry, University of Hawai‘i Institute for Astronomy
James Moncur, WRRC
Kiope Raymond
Richard Mayer