Gov. Eloy S. Inos described the ongoing discussions regarding a proposed military build-up in the CNMI as a “work in progress.”
Inos recently met with representatives of the U.S. military headed by Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, the deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, at Capital Hill to discuss proposed military activities on the CNMI.
Inos stressed that the presence of Crutchfield brings the discussions—particularly on a draft environmental impact statement on proposed live-fire exercises on Tinian and Pagan—closer to Washington.
“Some of the issues we are discussing are still a ‘work in progress.’ We hope to have an amicable solution to the discussions,” Inos said.
Inos further said it is a good thing that the general has set a schedule to meet with Tinian leaders.
“I agree with the governor that the discussion (on draft EIS) is a work in progress. We hope to bring clarity to what the DoD really wants to do,” Crutchfield said.
Crutchfield affirmed that part of his job is to “interface” with leaders in Washington, D.C. particularly top officials of the U.S. Department of Defense.
He said the visit to Tinian will be helpful.
Crutchfield said that disagreements are to be expected but it is his hope that the disagreements should not be based on hearsay or brought about by emotions.
“We want to be good partners,” Crutchfield said.
Reaction to draft EIS review
During the same meeting, Craig Whelden, executive director of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, said initial statements presented by a third party consultant on the draft EIS were “too broad.”
“The statements I have seen they’ve made in recent days, are a little too broad for me to comment on, because I don’t know exactly what they mean when they say that the legality of it (draft EIS) is inadequate, or alternatives have not been considered, or we (military) have not engaged enough with the CNMI public,” Whelden said.
Dentons US LLC was hired two weeks ago by the CNMI to conduct the independent review of the draft EIS.
Dentons presented its initial review and has deemed the EIS documents to be “inadequate.”