Drafting the environment impact statement would be the U.S. military’s next move after the CNMI government and the U.S. Air Force signed the record of decision to use Tinian for their planned divert activities and other exercises.
An EIS is a prepared document describing the effects of proposed military activities on people, the natural, and physical environment. The EIS is under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which requires certain actions that would have an impact on the quality of the human environment.
The ROD was signed during Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ meeting with U.S. Pacific Command Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield in Hawaii after the 75th commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The meeting was part of the ongoing discussion on 902 issues, particularly the proposed military buildup in the CNMI that included a live-fire training facility as stated in the Commonwealth Joint Military Training.
A live-fire training facility is one of the issues that non-profit organizations are protesting against, concerned as they are about the short- and long-term effects of the proposed activity on the CNMI.
Torres said they have not yet discussed what types of structures the military will build. “There’s no discussions yet but the initial thing to do is draft an EIS. And then look at the feasibility of them having the airfield. Once that’s done, they are going to go to the blueprint as to what to do at the airport.”
Torres said the ROD signing was the result of successful negotiations between both parties involved. “Through good faith and negotiation, and good working relationship with Gen. Crutchfield, they signed the ROD to move forward with the Tinian divert airfield. [They] signed the divert airfield only for Tinian.”
“It is a great success for all of us, because when they came they wanted the Saipan airfield. But we said no and reiterated only Tinian. They came back with the hybrid [proposal] and we said no again. We looked at the local leadership [Tinian and Aguiguan Legislative Delegation] together with Mayor [Joey San Nicolas] and they supported only Tinian,” added Torres.
Torres has also reviewed the 902 report, which was already sent to President Barack Obama for final review.
The final report of the four rounds of the 902 talks has the detailed information regarding the CNMI’s concerns regarding various issues that are affecting the Commonwealth.