HONOLULU (AP) — A senior University of Hawaii official says losing the Thirty Meter Telescope could mean losing billions of dollars in research funding over the next few decades.

University of Hawaii Vice President for Research and Innovation Vassilis Syrmos told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser not building the advanced telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea could impair the school's ability to attract research dollars.

He says the university is expecting to receive billions for TMT-related astronomy research and instrumentation development from the National Science Foundation.

Syrmos says the funding will go elsewhere if the telescope isn't built in Hawaii.

Some Native Hawaiians oppose building the telescope on Mauna Kea because they believe its summit is sacred. Protesters have been blocking the road to the summit since mid-July to prevent construction from getting underway.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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