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Environmental impact report draws huge response

By Steve Limtiaco HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug. 3, 2010) –The community earlier this year submitted more than 10,000 comments about the proposed military buildup. There was a 90-day public comment period for the buildup's draft Environmental Impact Statement, which was released last November.

The comments were compiled, categorized and included in the final Environmental Impact Statement released last week, which states about 24 percent of the public comments are related to "socioeconomic and community services" and "marine biological resources."

Those who commented were least interested in the issue of off-base roads, which had only 13 comments, community relations on Tinian, which had only 19 comments, and the issue of airspace, which had only 25 comments.

In some cases, the military responded to specific public comments, but it provided a "common response" for similar concerns or comments.

"Comments received during the public comment period have been assessed and considered both individually and collectively to guide development of this final EIS," it states.

If you want to see whether the military responded to your specific comment, it could take a considerable amount of time to find it.

The public comment section of the final Environmental Impact Statement, volume 10, is thousands of pages long and only the military's responses are searchable for key words on a computer, not the comments themselves.

That means it might be necessary to look at every page to find your comment and the military's response, if any.

Some of the main concerns raised by residents related to the population increase due to the buildup, infrastructure issues, health and social services, and cultural issues.

"In general, the DOD received a significant number of comments that highlighted a concern that adding thousands of new citizens to Guam's population would overwhelm existing infrastructure and social and health services," according to the final Environmental Impact Statement.

"These comments also identified existing shortfalls in Guam's infrastructure and social and health services," the final EIS stated. "Additionally, significant numbers of comments were received concerning Chamorro socio-cultural issues, access to cultural and recreational sites, impacts on coral and other marine resources, land acquisition, and general National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) concerns."

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