LEGISLATURE TO ISSUE JOINT LETTER

‘Extend time to review draft EIS’

The Legislature is set to draft a letter calling for an extension on the review of the draft environmental impact statement on proposed military activities in the CNMI.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos earlier sent a similar letter, requesting for a six-month extension of the EIS review.

Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan) and Sen. Arnold Palacios (R-Saipan) are currently working on the joint letter.

Demapan and Palacios chair the House and the Senate committees on Federal and Foreign Affairs, respectively.

“I am in full support of the governor’s request for a six-month extension of the 60-day comment period regarding the CJMT Draft EIS/OEIS,” Demapan said.

“Gov. Inos’ letter is timely as I, along with Senator Palacios, will be issuing a joint letter requesting that the Commonwealth be afforded a six-month extension as well,” Demapan said.

“Proposals contained in the report are poised to dramatically impact the Commonwealth in every way, shape or form,” he said. “In consideration of the potential impact, I agree that the CNMI must be afforded ample time and opportunity to examine the draft that was recently released.”

Demapan added that he believes lawmakers “are not asking for much.”

“This is a request we are making in good faith as we carry out our sworn duty to protect the interests of our Commonwealth, our people and the generations to come. A matter of this magnitude cannot and shall not be allowed to be done in haste,” he said.

The call for the review extension gained momentum after military representatives conducted meetings in the CNMI, eventually leading to the release of the draft EIS.

Demapan, who initiated the first meeting, said, “there is still a great deal to find out because this is an ongoing process.”

Lawmakers have described the draft EIS as too technical and that a battalion of experts might be needed for a comprehensive review of the document, which has more than 1,000 pages.

Experts will also be needed to analyze and study the document, as well as funds.

Senate President Victor B. Hocog (Ind-Rota) said, “even our scholars here [in the CNMI] need further clarifications” on the draft EIS.

He said he has instructed the Senate committee handling the EIS to seek ways to “re-program” some funding to be used for the EIS analysis.

At a Senate session on Friday, Sen. Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan) said lawmakers will work on assisting Northern Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan for a $75,000 funding to study the draft EIS, particularly on Pagan.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), meanwhile, said the Department of the Interior has announced a technical assistance grant of $250,000 to the Commonwealth’s Office of the Governor to hire environmental experts to review the draft EIS.

Sablan said the funds are appropriated by Congress and allows the department to respond to “critical needs in the insular areas for which local funds are not available.”

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Joel D. Pinaroc | Reporter
Joel Pinaroc worked for a number of newspapers in the Philippines before joining the editorial team of Saipan Tribune. His published articles include stories on information technology, travel and lifestyle, and motoring, among others. Contact him at joel_pinaroc@saipantribune.com.

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