Govt urges public to review draft EIS on military plans
The general public should now start reading and reviewing a draft environmental impact statement on proposed military installations on the CNMI.
The draft EIS was published on Saturday and can be found online at http://www.cnmijointmilitarytrainingeis.com/documents.
It seeks to solicit public comments within a period of 30 days.
The EIS essentially outlines the environmental and economic impact of military installations on the CNMI.
Aside from joint military exercises, the military has continued to push for a “hybrid” divert plan that calls for military installations to be established on Saipan and Tinian, and not just on Tinian.
According to Press Secretary Ivan Blanco, the government is urging the public to review the draft EIS, considering that the there are now only about 24 days remaining before the military holds public hearings on the EIS on April 29 and April 30.
The 30-day window allows the general public and interested parties to review the EIS and air their questions during the public hearings.
Under the “hybrid” option, the military is proposing to add infrastructure to both Saipan and Tinian civilian airports, noting that both airports would still be operated as they are today, under civilian authority, with the goal of reducing any potential interference with civil aviation operations and expansion plans on Saipan.
The military said its presence for exercises on Saipan would be scaled down from the Saipan-only approach.
Outside of a crisis, the anticipated maximum Air Force activity would be two to four tanker aircraft for up to eight weeks per year from CNMI airports, with the majority of activity on Tinian, the military said.
The military last week faced lawmakers on the Divert Plan and one of the key topic was the completion of the draft EIS.
The administration of Gov. Eloy S. Inos has said it “continues to express a preference for a Tinian alternative” and that there is “strong resistance” particularly on military presence in Saipan.
The divert airfield is intended to be an alternative landing base for Air Force planes if Andersen Air Force Base in Guam becomes unavailable because of weather or war.
CNMI officials are unified in their request to put the divert airfield on Tinian, where two-thirds of the island is already leased to the U.S. Department of Defense.