The Commonwealth Ports Authority met with Precinct 1 lawmakers last Thursday to give a briefing on the U.S. Air Force’s divert airfield plans for Saipan and Tinian.
CPA outlined their position—from their September 2014 resolution—to “site divert at CPA’s facilities on Tinian,” according to executive director Maryann Lizama.
“The concerns of siting divert on Saipan, particularly within the Dandan plateau of the airport affecting the surrounding communities and residents” was also outlined, as contained in last year’s resolution, she told Saipan Tribune.
Saipan is the Air Force’s preferred alternative for its divert plans in the CNMI, according to a draft environmental impact statement published earlier. The CPA board of directors essentially said “no” to this alternative in their September resolution.
The resolution echoed concerns the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had over this alternative, where they had declared the Air Force’s DEIS to be “insufficient.” The agency cited noise impacts on Saipan residents as severe, saying this is inconsistent with directives requiring hearing loss risk to be properly estimated.
Whether CNMI lawmakers draft a similar resolution akin to the ports authority remains to be seen.
Asked if there was a “collaborative” resolution in the works, Lizama clarified that “CPA has already issued its resolution regarding divert and the position remains unchanged: Divert shall be sited and permitted on Tinian and CPA will support an airport layout plan to that end.”
“Whether the House and Senate will issue resolutions on the issue articulating the Legislature’s position on divert is a policy decision left to the representatives, including Precinct 1,” she said.
Thursday’s meeting included House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan); Reps. Edwin Propst (Ind-Saipan); Roman Benavente (Ind-Saipan); Lee “Pan” Guerrero (R-Saipan); Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), and Tony Sablan (Ind-Saipan). Representing CPA were executive director Lizama; Wendi Prater; board members Benigno Sablan, Frances Mafnas and Thomas P. Villagomez; and CPA counsel Robert T. Torres. Wesley Bogdan, governor’s counsel for military activities, represented the Inos administration.