Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Arguments heat up EIS meeting: Residents urged to submit comments

Arguments heat up EIS meeting: Residents urged to submit comments

By Laura Matthews • Pacific Daily News • January 20, 2010

Residents attended Gov. Felix Camacho's public presentations describing the draft Environmental Impact Statement yesterday in Yigo to learn how to submit comments that will generate appropriate responses from the Defense Department.

However, things quickly turned ugly at the Yigo Senior Citizens Center when some residents realized that they have less than a month to submit their comments and the governor doesn't have the power to extend the time frame.

"There is no need to rush something that will affect our lives this much. Ask for the deadline to be extended," said Victoria Leon Guerrero, 28, from the We Are Guåhan group. "Giving us this presentation here tonight without giving us the technical process is wasting our time."

Speaker Judith Won Pat asked the governor why the public won't be privy to the assessments that are being made by Adelup on Guam's account.

"A lot of us out here are not experts on those areas that we consider highly technical. Why don't they provide it to us so that we know what we are reading?" Won Pat asked.

"What we are saying is that all these comments are not going to count unless we have something substantive. Help us help you as well," she said. "If you want the 10,000 comments, there are people here who want to help you, but help us help you as well."

A calm Camacho assured residents and the speaker that their best interests are being taken into consideration by his team as it conducts assessments and comments on the bulky document.

'Diligent process'

"There is a diligent process. Our GovGuam agencies are doing their very best," Camacho said. "Believe me, I'm fighting for our rights."

Nevertheless, Celeste Werner, the program manager for the governor's Advisory Consultant Team told residents that in order for them to mobilize the Defense Department to their concerns they must submit "action comments" that will gain results.

"If you have questions and you need clarification, ask them, ask as many as you want," she said.

Werner urged residents to make sure they describe the key concerns with their issues and ask questions that will provide more detailed verification on the issues.

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