Mauna Kea Case Update: UH files Motion to Dismiss

Posted by Marti Townsend at Nov 11, 2009 08:32 PM |
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UH's Motion to Dismiss the Mauna Kea CaseOn December 9th, the Third Circuit Court will hear oral arguments on the University of Hawaii’s motion to dismiss our case. As reported in the Hawaii Tribune Herald, the University’s argument basically comes down to this quote:

“In the absence of a contested case hearing, a circuit court is without jurisdiction even to consider the question of whether a contested case hearing was required.”

This motion is the University’s attempt to end this case before both sides have a chance to fully argue the issues for Judge Hara.  The issues raised in this case go to the foundation of our collective right to defend our public trust of natural and cultural resources from private exploitation.

The Land Board denied our request for a contested case hearing on the University’s plan to further develop the sacred summit based on the contention that we (Native Hawaiians and the public concerned about protecting the summit) do not have a “property interest” in the mountain.  By their logic, without a property interest in the mountain — like a deed — we have no right to challenge the decisions the state makes about the mountain.

We have suffered through many controversial lawsuits under the Lingle Administration.  Sadly, this case is no different.  The ceded lands case, the Superferry case, the NWHI permit case, and now this new Mauna Kea lawsuit are all examples of the Lingle Administration favoring private exploitation of Hawaii’s resources over the constitutionally protected rights of Native Hawaiians and the public to protect our land.  The Administration appears blind to the decades worth of court decisions that have solidified Hawaii’s unique public trust approach to natural and cultural resource protection; seeing only the glint of dollar signs behind every plan to exploit public resources.

This has nothing to do with Hawaii being business-friendly or not and has everything to do with Hawaii being exploited as a testing ground for those seeking to make a buck one way or another: Monsanto, Hawaii Ocean Technology, Inc., TMT Corporation, Superferry, Inc.  All of the benefits of these experiments on our land and ocean will be enjoyed by people other than us and all of the risks of these experiments — contamination, damaged land, failed projects — will be suffered by us, those connected to the Hawaiian Islands by more than just paper property interests.

For the generations of kamaaina to come, we cannot allow Hawaii’s unique and effective public trust doctrine to be diluted.  That is why we must fight the Land Board’s latest decision about the University’s plan for Mauna Kea.  And we could really use your help.  Forcing the government to follow its own laws is really expensive. Please consider giving to the Mauna Kea Legal Defense Fund by clicking here or by calling KAHEA at 877-585-2432 (toll-free).

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