Govt wants 6 months to review EIS

The administration of Gov. Eloy S. Inos is looking to hire consultants to help it review and study a draft environmental impact statement on proposed military exercises on Tinian and Pagan.

Inos is also seeking for a six-month extension of the review period on the draft EIS.

The request is not unexpected, as calls for the extension began snowballing as soon as an initial presentation of the draft EIS was conducted last week.

Inos, in a letter dated April 10 to Craig Whelden, executive director of the U.S Marine Corps Forces Pacific, said the military’s 60-day window for the CNMI government to submit its written comments on the draft EIS is “unrealistic given the magnitude and gravity” of the military’s proposed actions.

Inos also wrote that the government is in the process of securing funding from the Office of Economic Adjustment to help the government on the review.

“We need time to finalize the grants, publish the request for proposals, award the contracts, and give consultants sufficient time to do the work,” Inos said, adding that the government will need the six-month extension to submit its written comments on the EIS.

“I understand that this is a significant amount of time to request, but the proposal to transform the CNMI for defense related purposes is an enormous undertaking which cannot be rushed to completion,” the governor said.

‘Too technical’

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

According to Sen. Justo S. Quitugua (Ind-Saipan), the military apparently spent a considerable amount of resources for the study.

The lawmaker said the draft EIS would have required the military to hire experts in various fields, including military and cultural affairs, as well as experts on terrestrial and marine biology, geology, environment, water resources, etc.

Quitugua, like other lawmakers, has cited the “technical” content of the draft EIS, which makes it a challenge to “fully digest” the whole study in a matter of days.

He said experts will also be needed to analyze and study the document.

Funding for Pagan

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.

Igisomar said the budget will be used to hire a group to do the study on the EIS. He said a group from Guam is being eyed to conduct the study.

Pagan is part of the Northern Islands.

Aldan earlier voiced his strong opposition to a military plan to lease the whole of Pagan, as detailed in the EIS.

The draft EIS also indicated that “inert” bombs will be dropped on the islands as part of proposed military exercises.

Aldan earlier pushed for homesteading for some parts of Pagan, particularly for residents of the island who were displaced due to volcanic activity in 1984.

TA for EIS

Delegate Gregorio Kilili 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.”

In this case there is a critical need for expertise to evaluate plans to develop live-fire ranges and training areas on Tinian and Pagan as part of the U.S. military’s shift of forces in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.

“For some time I have urged the Commonwealth government to appropriate funds for this purpose, but local funds are in short supply. I commend Governor Inos for recognizing the importance of obtaining expert advice on the planned buildup and for reaching out successfully for federal financial assistance,” Sablan said.

ShareTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Email this to someonePrint this page
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.

Related Posts

  • NMIWatch

    What happen to “Friends of the Monument” and “Friends of Marpi” They were concern about the enviroment then….Why Hush Now? Speak up and be heard.
    Don’t hide in your hermit sweet…Say something.

  • jun

    “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.”

    Senator Sixto, the last time we check, thousands of dollars were being fork out at the legislature to pay for consultants. So, what you are saying that these consultants are worthless and they are clueless on issues affecting us? Where are the funding given to the Northern Islands Municipal Government this fiscal year? Maybe you should know that individuals are on the pay roll for being at the right place and the right time. The $75,000 that you and Jerome are asking can be put in good use within our unprivileged population throughout the CNMI. Have you seen that children are living without water, electricity and let alone food throughout the CNMI and you want $75,000 to get someone else interpret the military proposal? We thought that you are an educated individual.

Hello;
Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.