Kilili: NMI provisions in Defense bill ‘intact’

U.S. Department of Defense funding provisions for the Northern Marianas remain intact after the House Armed Service Committee voted for the FY 2017 defense budget for fiscal year 2017, according to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP).

In his newsletter Saturday, Sablan says the committee, in a 60-2 vote, kept provisions adopted by its Readiness committee intact.

These include language, included at Sablan’s request, to direct the secretary of Defense to set out a plan to establish a National Guard unit in the CNMI, after it was found feasible last year.

The bill also keeps provisions to require the military to provide a full briefing to the committee on how it would address serious public concerns raised about live-fire training on Tinian or Pagan within 30 days that a “Final Revised Environmental Impact Statement” for the project is issued.

The bill also requires further analysis of “alternatives” for a divert airfield, suggesting the Freely Associated States, even as the local government and U.S. Air Force officials discuss agreements for divert airfield to be sited on Tinian.

The military will have to demonstrate that it has considered alternative divert field locations, such as the Freely Associated States, before any of the $9 million set aside for land acquisition in the Marianas for this purpose can be used,” Sablan said.

The existing $29.3 million for divert field project is also not reauthorized in the latest form of the military budget, or National Defense Authorization Act.

“The Defense bill does not include extension of availability of $29.3 million previously okayed for divert field expenditure in the Northern Marianas, because the Air Force is unable to answer questions about the cost, scope, and specific location of the three projects the money would have been used for,” Sablan said.

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Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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