Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is encouraging the community to submit their comments to the U.S. Department of the Interior, which is soliciting remarks from the public regarding national monuments that were designated under Public Law 59-209 or the act for the preservation of American antiquities.
Interior initiated the review of areas designated as national monuments—one of which is the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument—after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would study the often controversial move made by past presidents using the Antiquities Act of 1906.
Torres said the public should read the speeches made by those who competed in Friday’s 33rd Annual Attorney General’s Cup speech competition where the topic concerns federal authority in administering local resources, and then submit their comments.
“I encourage the community to read the AG’s Cup speeches by our students and provide comments of their own regarding the monument to DOI,” said Torres.
Competitors prepared a speech on the balance of power between the U.S. federal government and the CNMI, and whether the feds had infringed on the Commonwealth’s sovereignty.
“In the same spirit, my administration is keenly aware that the people of the CNMI were promised great things during the discussions surrounding the designation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, but to this day, we have seen none of those benefits materialize.”
His administration would soon submit its position to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Comments can be submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov beginning after May 12 and must be sent within 60 days.
“We intend to provide our input in response to Secretary Zinke and President Trump’s call for local dialogue,” said Torres. “ [We] fully support the President’s decision to review these designations to ensure they uphold their original intentions and provide benefits to the people.”
He said the federal government must assess its every move when it comes to natural resources that are directly or indirectly under its jurisdiction.
“It is important that we balance the desires of the federal government with the protection of our people’s traditional fishing practices and potential uses, holding to our commitment to the environmental protection of our unique resources in our waters,” said Torres.
The Marianas Trench Marine Monument, created in 2009 by President George W. Bush, covers an area of 60,938240 acres or 95,216 square miles. Submerged lands and waters of the Marianas—the CNMI and Guam—are included in the three units of the national monument.
The waters and submerged lands of three of the CNMI’s northernmost islands—Asuncion, Farallon de Pajaros or Uracas, and Maug—are included in the designated protected area along with 21 volcanic sites, and the northern limit of the Commonwealth’s exclusive economic zone to Guam’s southern limit.