Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and key officials from the island of Tinian met yesterday with the newly installed commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Rear Adm. Shoshanna Chatfield, and other command representatives to discuss how the U.S. Department of Defense would move forward with its plans in the CNMI.
Beginning discussions on the revised CNMI Joint Military Draft Environmental Impact Statement was also part of the meeting.
They also had consultations on the CJMT National Environmental Policy Act, an informal and somewhat unique addition to NEPA’s process.
Chatfield recently replaced Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, who has been assigned as commander of the Navy Region Southeast, Jacksonville, Florida.
Yesterday’s initial meeting with Chatfield was the first of what is expected to be a series of talks that would establish protocols and set out issues for future discussions.
The U.S. Marines also aims to use the series of meetings to help them prepare a revised draft environmental impact statement on the proposed CJMT project.
Torres and other key CNMI officials want to include the findings and recommendations that were written on the Section 902 final report to the CJMT process. The 902 report came out last month and was transmitted to congressional leaders on Jan. 20.
Torres, along with Sen. Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) and Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas, also gave Chatfield an update on what have been discussed with Bolivar and USPACOM deputy commander Lt. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield.
Chatfield replaced Bolivar as JRM Commander in a change of command ceremony last Jan. 27 at the Fr. Duenas Phoenix Center in Mangilao, Guam. She previously served as the U.S. Deputy Military Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium.
Aside from being JRM’s commander, Chatfield will be the commander of the U.S. Naval Force Marianas, the U.S. Pacific Command’s senior military official in the region—Guam, CNMI, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau—and commander of Task Force West.
Torres said the meeting also updated Chatfield and other military officials on the result and recommendations that were discussed in the 902 talks and the final report that was transmitted to congressional leaders last month.
“Following the Section 902 consultations with the U.S. Department of Defense regarding the proposed use of Tinian and Pagan, we met today with the Pacific Command personnel to discuss the possible steps to move forward and restart the revised CJMT draft EIS,” said Torres.
He said the CNMI also wants to do its share in keeping the nation safe but without sacrificing the interests of the people of the Commonwealth.
“I am particularly interested in the CNMI doing its part for our national security, but still balancing our limited resources and agreements set out in the Covenant.”
“I look forward to reengaging in productive conversations that will continue to take the concerns of the people of the CNMI into full consideration for the CJMT Revised DEIS that will soon start up again.”
Torres said he is looking forward to building a working relationship with Chatfield after yesterday’s meeting.