Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) calls the U.S. Department of Navy’s recent decision to order a supplemental environmental impact statement for live-fire training and bombing on Tinian and Pagan a “win” for the Northern Marianas.
“Those are small victories, but one after another it helps,” Sablan said in an interview last week. “And that’s why people who disagree with the NEPA process need to understand that the NEPA process is making all of this reviews and re-reviews and change of plans” possible, he said.
The Navy two weeks ago called for a second round of review for the “CNMI Joint Military Training” or CJMT plans.
“Without the NEPA process, the military doesn’t have to explain any of its actions,” Sablan said. “Whether it’s the [Marianas Islands Training and Testing EIS], or the [Divert Airfield Project EIS], or the CJMT,” he added, referring to other voluminous impact statements that the CNMI has been forced to review in recent years.
“Two years ago, I was allowed to sit in with the [U.S. House of Representatives] Armed Services Committee and we were talking about some of these environmental impact studies and my suggestion then was why are you having different environmental impact studies? Whether it’s MITT, or CJMT, or the Divert—why don’t you just have one? So [that] it’s easier for us in the Northern Marianas to address…instead of these different parts.”
“…This divide and conquer thing is not in the best interest of the Northern Marianas,” Sablan added.
The CJMT is the fifth major military training project proposed for the CNMI in recent years, among others, like the U.S. Air Force’s proposed divert airfield project, the U.S. Navy’s expansive bombing and sonar training projects, and the “Guam Buildup EIS,” which when first announced included Tinian in its scope.
“Each of the five projects has involved the preparation of an EIS,” Dentons, a firm hired by the CNMI to review the CJMT project, has said. “None of the five EIS fully evaluates any alternatives located outside the CNMI. Based on the documents we have reviewed to date, it appears the Navy has consistently singled out the CNMI for inappropriate treatment under NEPA.”