Monday, November 02, 2009

Guthertz & Respicio: Feds Respond Favorably to “Team Guam” Approach In EIS Extension

Guthertz & Respicio: Feds Respond Favorably to “Team Guam” Approach In EIS Extension

Guam - Senators Judi P. Guthertz and Rory J. Respicio are pleased by environmental impact review extension, but they warn Guam citizens not to expect much help in spotting negative findings from federally funded consultants.

After weeks of loud complaints on Guam that the forthcoming draft environmental impact statement could not possibly receive adequate public review and comment within a tight 45 day deadline, the Department of Defense has had a change of heart, doubling the comment period to 90 days. That word from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, who was told this, “will assure the interests of the citizens of Guam are fully represented in the study.”

Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment Roger Natsuhara, visiting Guam this week, communicated this decision to Governor Camacho and members of the Guam Legislature.

“We’re certainly pleased to have been heard on this,” said Senator Guthertz, “but the question that remains is whether we can do a meaningful review of this 7,000 to 9,000 page technical document within the time frame and with the limited resources available to us.”She attributed the federal government’s quick and positive response to the seemingly concerted effort of local leaders advocating for the same goal. “Imagine the attention and favorable results we would get if the governor empanelled the Guam First Commission. The feds would certainly take notice of our requests.”

Senator Respicio added, “Telling us to depend on the Matrix analysis is like asking those who do not support our perspective or approach to prepare our position papers.” He explained that all he’s heard so far from Matrix is a promise to summarize points in the document to help the public review it. “Don’t expect Cliff’s Notes or any helpful pointers about how to identify problems that are hidden in the scientific jargon,” stated Respicio.

Earlier, Senator Guthertz’ request for funds to hire outside expertise to analyze the DEIS was turned down by Department of the Interior on the grounds that the governor’s office already had the Matrix consulting firm working on an analysis. Legislators have objected, questioning in particular whether the interest of Matrix was in a critical analysis of the DEIS and identifying errors or flaws or simply greasing the wheels for the military buildup that it serves as a primary consultant.

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