PHS to continue helping NMI’s environment, utility agencies
The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. recently learned from Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) that the U.S Environmental Protection Agency will continue supporting the assignment of Public Health Service Officers to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant-funded positions in the CNMI.
In a letter to CUC executive director Alan Fletcher, Sablan said that no congressional action is required to continue the assignment of Public Health Service Officers and their work in the Pacific Islands.
The letter was addressed to CUC after the utilities agency sent an email to Sablan on June 2, 2014, seeking resolution on the matter.
According to Sablan, the issue of cutting back on Public Health Officers in the CNMI has dated back to 2011.
Sablan wrote EPA on June 17, 2014, to inquire about the matter and EPA responded to Sablan on Aug. 18, with a letter from Department of Health and Human Services acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak and EPA’s Region 9 regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld, who both assured Sablan that there was no statutory impediment to these assignments.
“Our agencies have worked closely together to reach this conclusion because we recognize and value the substantial environmental and human health benefits to which the PHS Officers have contributed in American Samoa, Guam and CNMI,” EPA told Sablan.
PHS officers serving environmental agencies in the Pacific and CUC have dropped from eight to just two, Capt. Derek Chambers and Brian Bearden. They will continue helping the agencies they are currently working with and the possibility of an additional help in the future.