Torres: Earthjustice lawsuit affects military’s plans

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the lawsuit filed against the military’s proposal to conduct live-fire training facilities on the islands of Tinian and Pagan has affected their ongoing discussions for increased presence of U.S. forces in the CNMI.

Torres said he agrees with the concerns of the environmental groups and has renewed the administration’s stand of opposing the military’s original plans of using both islands as live-fire training facilities.

Last month, four environmental and cultural preservation groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Navy and Secretary Ray Mabus, and U.S. Department of Defense and Secretary Ashton Carter.

“I agree with all the concerns of these environmental groups and respect their decision of filing a lawsuit. Pagan was part of the military’s proposal and we oppose what is being originally proposed,” said Torres.

“I also instructed Department of Public Lands Secretary Marianne [Teregeyo] to move ahead with the homestead program that needs to be availed to locals up north.”

The lawsuit also limited the U.S. military’s statements in their ongoing talks with the CNMI government on their plans for the Commonwealth. “They are prohibited to talk because of the lawsuit. They would like to discuss some more issues but they are prohibited to talk.”

Torres said that the Earthjustice lawsuit is a private matter. “We didn’t file the lawsuit. It is a private entity. Organizations and citizens who decided to file the lawsuit.”

“The military are hesitant to discuss some information because of the lawsuit. It prohibits them from saying some issues during our meetings,” added Torres.

He said that the goal of the CNMI delegation that went to Hawaii is just to observe how live-fire training is done. “Our goal there is to look at the facility and look how it is being done. And also make sure they know what our concerns are.”

“In order for us to move forward on the military’s plans, they must and need to know our concerns. We want our concerns to be heard and we would like to see an amended proposal.”

Torres added that he fully supports the military but disagrees with what they have been proposing. We support the military, and that’s why we signed the programmatic agreement for a divert airfield on Tinian.”

“We support the men and women of our armed forces. At this point, I disagree with the plan in the original proposal. What’s being proposed is something that we disagree with,” he added.

Torres and members of the Tinian delegation went to the military’s live-fire training facility in Kane’ohe Bay in Hawaii where they were shown small caliber types of munitions used like 50 caliber and M16.

“Amphibious training is also proposed. But for most part they wanted to show us that this is the training range. The more important is what they wanted to show is the military base can co-exist with locals. I don’t disagree with that because it works for them.”

“What is being proposed now, with what the people of Tinian are disagreeing. We emphasize again to the relationship that we have with the Covenant and not to divert from it.”

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Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez has been covering local and international sports events for more than 15 years. His sports writing career started when he joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, when he was in college.

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  • Tinalakattne Yantitiyas

    Covenant or not, listen to your people Wonder-Boy! It is not their fault they feel this way. US Mil did not do their part in putting their lease to use and now, folks eye’s are open to the destruction and pollution US Mil leaves behind.

    Coexist you say? Its not only about “COEXISTING”. Its also about keeping them responsible and accountable about the havoc they bring upon the ecosystem and the locals. Look at the troubles with other areas these “leasers” have wrecked.

    Folks, your right to disagree and hold US Mil feet to the fire. Make them responsible, charge them for every tronkun niyuk, otbot (sp?), kalaskas, nunu, and tangantangan they destroy. I remember in Germany, basically for every tree we destroyed, US Mil paid for it. For that loss of one tree, it impacts the whole ecosystem. Implement some type of a “Tree for a Tree” program. Have some type of human monitoring compliance. We soldiers can be very callous with mother nature, properties and the locals during training. I have seen it firsthand. And please!!! They are on “training” status; not at “WAR”.

    With implementation of such programs, that is a job created for the locals. Therefore benefiting ecosystem and locals at the same time. Biba Marianas!

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