Gov. Eloy S. Inos is asking for another extension of the comment period for the draft environmental impact statement on military activities in the CNMI.
“An extension is needed until at least the middle part of September and I hereby request an extension of time to receive public comments and to allow NMI agencies to return to normal conditions and complete their work,” Inos said in a letter to Craig B. Whelden, executive director of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific.
The governor said “in the aftermath of Typhoon Soudelor, and following President Obama’s declaration of a major disaster in the Northern Mariana Islands, I believe it absolutely necessary and hereby request an extension of the public comment period on the CJMT Draft EIS from its present closing date of Aug. 17, 2015, 5pm (Eastern Time).”
“Although I wish we could suggest or request a date by which we could be certain to complete the necessary environmental review work, unfortunately under the circumstances and at this time we cannot,” Inos said.
The governor, who arrived on the CNMI yesterday from a long vacation in the mainland, said, “The overall conditions on Saipan right now are such that it is practically impossible to know when the islandwide cleanup, power and water restoration, access to government offices and work stations, and other recovery activities presently underway will be accomplished to the point where we can finalize our environmental review comment work.”
Inos also cited the devastation of Typhoon Soudelor, which is by far the most powerful typhoon that has the passed through the Northern Mariana Islands in recent history, causing great damage to most basic infrastructural resources.
“Until the recovery efforts have progressed further, under the circumstances our residents and citizens cannot be expected to submit comments and NMI employees who were working on the NMI’s written response to the CJMT Project cannot complete their work,” he said.
Washington Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said he supports Inos’ request for an extension.
“I fully support Gov. Inos’ request for an extension on the comment period for the CJMT/DEIS. In this current state of disaster, it is difficult for the citizens of the Northern Marianas, and the local government, to focus on anything other than the recovery effort. We need all hands on deck at this extremely challenging time,” he said.