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The court granted telescope opponents' request for an emergency stay of the effectiveness of the permit until Dec. 2, or until another court order.
The ruling was issued as protesters were gathering on Mauna Kea in anticipation of blocking telescope work from resuming. Work has been stalled since April amid protests.
"Mahalo ke akua," Kealoha Pisciotta, a longtime telescope opponent and one of the plaintiffs challenging the permit, repeated several times after hearing about the ruling. "Thank God."
Telescope officials announced last week a crew would return to the site this month to do vehicle maintenance work but they wouldn't specify a date.
A representative for the project said that TMT will respect the court's decision and stand down until Dec. 2.
"The Supreme Court's decision will give all parties involved in the appeal sufficient time to respond to the motion," TMT spokesman Scott Ishikawa said in a statement late Tuesday night.
Gov. David Ige said he will be conferring with the attorney general and the Department of Land and Natural Resources to determine the state's next steps.
"They cannot legally do any work on Mauna Kea," said Richard Naiwieha Wurdeman, the plaintiffs' attorney who filed the emergency request late Monday after hearing news reports that telescope crews would be going to the mountain on Wednesday.
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