Speaker Wants CNMI Submerged Lands Declaration Revised

admin's picture

Deleon Guerrero concerned about use of ‘reserve’ in draft

By Emmanuel T. Erediano

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 14, 2014) – CNMI Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero wrote President Obama yesterday requesting that he revise the draft proclamation "Reserving Certain Submerged Lands in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands."

In his two-page letter emailed to the White House late in the afternoon, Deleon Guerrero, IR-Saipan, expressed his concern with the language of the draft proclamation which he said has unintentional consequences.

The speaker is particularly concerned about the word "reserve" in the draft proclamation.

Pursuant to U.S. Public Law 113-34, the submerged lands adjacent to the islands of Tinian and Farallon De Medinilla as well as the submerged lands adjacent to Farallon De Pajaros, Maug and Asuncion will be transferred by the U.S. government to the CNMI government.

Part of the draft proclamation states, "The submerged lands surrounding the islands of Farallon de Pajaros (Uracas), Maug and Asuncion in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are among the most biologically diverse in the Western Pacific, with relatively pristine coral reef ecosystems that have been proclaimed objects of scientific interest and reserved for their protection as the islands of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument by Proclamation No. 8335."

With the word "reserve" Deleon Guerrero said the conveyance of submerged lands to the CNMI "is subject to an optional ‘reservation’ that may be exercised by the president of the U.S."

"Significantly, the primary effect of the draft proclamation as reflected in its title is to ‘reserve’ certain islands by decreeing that they ‘are excepted from the transfer’ to our CNMI government until such time as agreements can be reached that would serve to protect the US’ interests in training the U.S. military as well as the environment," Deleon Guerrero told the president.

The CNMI speaker asked Obama to omit the ‘reservation’ language in the draft proclamation.

As an alternative, Deleon Guerrero requested that the final proclamation include language that: (1) sets a procedure for resolving disputes in the event that mutual resolution is not reached between the CNMI and the relevant federal departments and (2) sets deadlines for reaching agreements regarding the conveyance of the lands at issue.

Deleon Guerrero said without the provisions he requested, "the land conveyance contemplated by the law will be compromised."

With regard to exemption of leased lands and the Marine Monument, Gov. Eloy S. Inos told reporters on Friday "we need to have that qualified by, number one, not having a permanent exemption and number two, we need to be able to sit down and talk about the time line by which the transfer will actually take place."

"The three miles related to the three Marine monument islands will be exempted from the transfer until a co-management agreement has been entered into. And I think we are fine with that," the governor said.

Deleon Guerrero told Obama that rather than merely reiterating Inos’s similar concerns, "I would like to make a personal appeal to you President Obama, in light of your Hawaiian heritage."

"As one islander to another islander, please consider the progress that your beloved home state of Hawaii has made to protect its lands from the destruction that is caused by live-fire training," the CNMI speaker said.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment