‘Tourism, environment will be hit hard by military plan’

The administration of Gov. Eloy S. Inos reiterated its major concerns with the draft environmental impact statement on proposed “live fire” exercises on Tinian and Pagan.

In a statement, the government said “transformation, or re-branding” of the CNMI from a tourist destination into a group of islands where military “live-fire” training takes place is “worrying,” considering that tourism is the Commonwealth’s major economic driver.

The special use “restricted air space” requirements for the CJMT will also create significant “adverse” impacts on the flights between Saipan and Tinian and the costs of transportation between the two islands as reported in the draft EIS.

According to the government, the potential impacts to the environment raises even more questions.

One example are plans to build ramps for amphibious assault vehicles at Unai Chulu, which will result in dredging 10 acres of corals and will have direct and indirect effects up to 20 acres.

Lt. Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres said he is urging “all members of the public with concerns to join in the scheduled public hearings and make those concerns known.”

Online petition
A petition against the proposed military exercises has also been initiated online at www.change.org. The petition seeks to gather 500 signatures.

“The United States citizens of Tinian, Pagan and the Mariana Islands have survived thousands of years and it is our human right to continue to enjoy and protect the pristine islands, ocean, and sky; a legacy entrusted to us by our ancestors,” the petition said.

“The U.S. military’s proposed CNMI Joint Military Training Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) contains plans that will desecrate our way of life and will have permanent NEGATIVE impacts on all facets of our community and future generations.”

“We therefore firmly oppose the plans as outlined in the DEIS and demand that the Department of Defense select the ‘NO ACTION’ alternative within the EIS,” it added.

The online petition can be found at:

https://www.change.org/p/president-of-the-united-states-united-states-department-of-defense-u-s-house-of-representatives-u-s-senate-do-not-use-the-inhabited-us-islands-of-tinian-pagan-as-a-high-impact-bombing-range?recruiter=285805249&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive.

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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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