Public hearing today on US military testing in the CNMI

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Posted on Aug 11 2020

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The House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs is encouraging everybody to attend a public hearing today, at 10am, at the House of Representatives chamber on Capital Hill, to talk about Joint Resolution 21-08, which asks Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to oppose any increase in destructive military training and testing in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Asked to appear before the lawmakers are officials from the Bureau of Military Affairs, the Saipan Legislative Delegation, Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Saipan Mayor’s Office, and the Saipan Municipal Council.

The public may also be allowed to speak to air their concerns.

The joint resolution, which the committee already unanimously passed in June, highlights the effects of the military training and testing in the degradation of the natural environment, the health of the people, and of the local economy, as well as being a threat to the survival of indigenous culture.

Last week, the U.S. Navy released its decision on its study on the environmental impacts associated with its military exercises, and will implement Alternative 2, which, as described in the Mariana Islands Training and Testing environmental impact statement, will allow them and other U.S. military services, and the U.S. Coast Guard to implement various training and testing requirements.

Committee member Rep. Sheila Babauta (D-Saipan) is calling on everybody to reach out to leaders, representatives, and to members of the group Our Common Wealth 670, and let them know that this military concern is important to them as it will have an impact on tourism, commerce, everyone’s quality of life, health and community welfare.

“We as a community really need to stay on top of this because it has an overall impact on our everyday lives. …The sense of urgency is there,” she said in an interview.

Babauta also said that she wants to hear from those who support the military testing and trainings. “[I’d] really like to understand…their perspective. Why would we support this kind of destructive activity, and what benefit are we going to realize, given the negative impact that it’ll have on our people and on our land?” she said. “It’s so alarming to me. …I just don’t support a future that is going to be full of bombs and testing centers and restricted air spaces and poisonous agents and materials in our water and in our soils. What are we opening our doors to?”

As for the joint resolution, Babauta said they have reached out many times to the Bureau of Military Affairs and to the Governor’s Office for a meeting, which has yet to happen.

Iva Maurin | Author
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com

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