Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) said the U.S. Navy’s decision in restarting Section 106 meetings is premature following the agreement that has already been reached by the CNMI government and the United States Department of Defense during the 902 Talks. The 902 report has already been submitted to U.S. Congress.
The Navy decided to restart the cultural and historic properties of Section 106 for the CNMI Joint Military Training (CJMT) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The military held a meeting yesterday on Tinian, while a separate one is set at 2pm today at the Office on Aging conference room.
“As discussed and outlined in the 902 report, the DoD committed to increasing its involvement with the CNMI government as part of its environmental planning to ensure that the amount of land it seeks to acquire is the minimum necessary to support its defense purposes,” said Demapan, the House Federal and Foreign Affairs committee vice chair.
“Thus, the DoD proposed the creation of a CNMI/DoD Coordinating Council, which was to serve as forum where the parties can work together to seek approaches that support DoD’s military missions and the CNMI’s concerns for economic self-sufficiency. This Coordinating Council has not been completely organized and hasn’t started its work yet.”
He added the coordinating council has yet to begin its work and should be first allowed to establish themselves so all of CNMI’s concerns be heard and considered as the process moves along. “The proposed CNMI/DoD Coordinating Council should be allowed to do its work first to ensure that economic impacts are thoroughly discussed.”
“Another issue that concerns me is that these meetings are being started over again without waiting for the revised EIS to be released,” added Demapan.
“If you recall, following the submission of numerous public comments on the CJMT Draft EIS, the military decided to go back to the drawing board and come up with a revised draft EIS, but that has not happened yet.”
He said the discussions would be a better “opportunity to seek a common understanding on how DoD’s use of the land can balance its critical need for training without adverse economic consequences, and maybe even improving the CNMI’s socio-economic conditions.”
“Nonetheless, this issue is still of great concern because despite the tremendous opposition from residents regarding the military’s proposals for Tinian and Pagan, the goals of the military have not changed. They still want to use Tinian and Pagan for their proposed training plans,” said Demapan.