Marianas Variety

SAIPAN, CNMI (June 30, 2010) – The Joint Guam Program Office finally obliged to Sen. Judi Guthertz’s request that members of the legislature be briefed on the status of the final environmental impact statement, which is due for release by the end of July.

According to minutes of the meeting provided by Guthertz’s office, Rear Admiral Paul Bushong, Commander of Joint Region Marianas, opened the briefing with so much promise.

Admiral Bushong told the senators that the process of the draft environmental impact statement evolving into the final report "is a good one," as he emphasized the concept of "working together to implement the decisions regarding the buildup so that it is a ‘win-win’ for everyone."

The JRM commander also noted that the community input on the draft study has been good for Guam to identify needs and lay out the way ahead. The military, he said, "wants to work with the community to do this right."

During a briefing with the media on Monday, Randel Sablan, assistant environmental director of JGPO, explained at length the entire process required by the National Environmental Protection Act that would eventually lead to the release of the record of decision.

He said the Department of Defense’s Tiger Team met in Hawaii two weeks ago to discuss the preliminary document.

"We went through all of the work that has gone through taking this document from a draft to a preliminary final," he told the media briefing.

Not bored yet?

"The document changes form. It’s being worked on and the Tiger Team works on chapter by chapter, section by section and in a lot of cases line by line in making sure that we have a lot of things addressed and that there’s cross coordination in all of the volumes and that the information flows," Sablan said.

The document is now being put together in final form so it can go into production. When the final copy is ready, it will be placed on the federal registry.

Now we have been educated about the complex NEPA process. Big deal.

But certainly, JGPO knows it’s not really what the local community wants to know. Whatever happened to the 10,000 comments submitted by members of the community?

At the press conference, Sablan gave a vague response, saying "several changes" were made in the final environmental impact statement. "We’ve picked up and expounded on some issues. We’ve clarified, we’ve done additional studies and analyses and that will be reflected in the document," he told the press conference.

While JGPO officials have been happy to spew out generous details about the NEPA process, they won’t release the same amount of information about the contents of the final study.

We sympathize with the frustrated senators who listened, and probably almost fell asleep during their meeting with JGPO, as military officials gave them the feel-good boilerplates. The entire community is surely as hungry as the senators for substance.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment