Sunday, November 22, 2009

Public matters

Public matters

Monday, 23 November 2009 00:19
by Zita Y. Taitano | Variety News Staff

Final release of EIS hinges on Guam feedback

THE final environmental impact statement on the military buildup could be released by late spring or early summer of next year, depending on public comments the Joint Guam Program Office and the Department of Defense receive, according to JGPO director John Jackson.

“Nothing will be set in stone until the record of decision comes out,” Jackson said during a press conference on Saturday. “Things could still change because we may discover something that wasn’t provided in the public comment period or some of our surveys.”

The 90-day period for public review and comment on the voluminous document officially started Saturday. The public review period ends on Feb. 18, 2010 at 3 p.m.

“We want to get it right not only for the requirements for the military but for the government of Guam and the people of Guam and again the military that will come here will be living on Guam,” Jackson said.

“This is a buildup that benefits the people of Guam and benefits the military mission and so we have once chance to get it right so it will take some time and has taken some time obviously to get it right and so that’s the goal,” he added.

Key points

The relocation of 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam and the impact on local infrastructure was a key point of discussion at the press briefing, as well as the construction of a deep trough wharf and improvements at the Apra Harbor and Naval Base which could support a transient nuclear air craft carrier.

The draft study also details the relocation of 600 Army soldiers and their dependents associated with an Army air and missile defense task force.

Jackson promised that all of the issues and concerns raised during the public comment period would be identified and appropriately considered in preparation for the final report.

Comments may be submitted online at the website.

Prior to the study’s release, local activists on Friday staged a rally in Tamuning protesting the military expansion. (See related story on page 4)

Early comments

When asked how much would the comments weigh on the final impact statement to be released next year, Jackson said all feedback would be considered. “Each comment will be weighed and when I say weighed, each comment will be considered,” Jackson claimed.

Citing plans for locating a firing range at Finegayan, Jackson, said during the public comment period JGPO received more than 100 public responses to a notice of intent saying, “No, don’t do that” there.

As result, he added, a new site is under consideration for planned use in weapons training activities by the department of defense.

Jackson stated that a final impact statement release date will depend on the volume of feedback.

“If we literally receive thousand and thousands of comments, obviously it will take us longer than if we receive a hundred comments. And that’s why it’s really important for the public to be involved. This is an opportunity for the public to really get their thoughts on paper in the internet. This is the time frame for the public to make those comments,” he said.

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