U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tells CNMI Utility To Stop Relying On Federal Dollars

EPA rejects CUC interim financial plan that relies heavily on federal funding

By Ferdie De La Torre 

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 21, 2017) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has warned the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. that it cannot continue to rely on the federal government for financial support, according to EPA project coordinator John Tinger.

Tinger disclosed that CUC submitted an interim financial plan that depends on the federal government funding CUC projects. He described the plan as “unacceptable.”

Tinger’s declaration is attached in support of the U.S. government’s February 2017 status report on some CUC projects.

Needless to say, EPA rejected CUC’s financial plan.

In rejecting CUC’s submission, Tinger said, EPA said that CUC is solely responsible for its operations; that CUC must generate sufficient revenues; and that CUC cannot continue to rely on the federal government for funds.

Tinger said EPA has not received CUC’s response.

[PIR editor's note: On Feb. 21, 2017 Saipan Tribune reported that 'The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality as well as the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance have expressed concerns regarding the possible abolition of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as previously stated by President Donald J. Trump. ... EPA has been providing invaluable funding for government agencies across the nation and the CNMI is no stranger to EPA-funded grants.']

Stipulated order 1 requires CUC to have an interim financial plan and a final financial plan that will generate enough revenue to cover compliance activities, stipulated orders, and measures necessary to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

Since the stipulated orders were entered, CUC has been awarded $54 million in EPA funding for CUC’s SO1 drinking water and wastewater systems.

Prior to the entry of the Engineering and Environmental Management Company order, the Department of the Interior awarded $10 million in federal grant funds for CUC’s Stipulated Order 2 projects. Stipulated Order 2 focuses on oil issues such as requiring CUC to repair and replace oil storage and operation structure, manage tank and pipeline facilities, and require spill and emergency response equipment and protocols.

Saipan Tribune
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