Monday, January 18, 2010

Officials ask for more time to review DEIS

Officials ask for more time to review DEIS

By Brett Kelman • Pacific Daily News • January 16, 2010

If Japan gets more time to consider the coming military buildup, Guam deserves more time to comment, according to letters from some of the island's political leaders.

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz and Delegate Madeleine Bordallo have both written letters in support of extending the amount of time residents can comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Capt. Neil Ruggiero, local spokesman for the Joint Guam Program Office and the military buildup, did not respond to an e-mail yesterday that asked if an extension was possible.

The draft EIS is a massive document that details how Guam will change when the coming military buildup occurs. Comments from the public may reshape the military's plans.

On Thursday, Cruz wrote letters to Bordallo and Gov. Felix Camacho asking them to ask the military to allow the public more time to comment. The thousands of people who attended four public hearings on the buildup proves the public is concerned, he said.

"The DEIS has raised many questions that remain unanswered. Each review of the DEIS raises more," Cruz wrote in the letter.

Yesterday, Bordallo sent a letter to Ray Mabus, secretary of Navy, asking for a 45-day extension to the draft EIS comment period.

"The public release of the DEIS is the first opportunity the people of Guam and our elected leaders have to see the specific plans and proposals for the military build-up on Guam," Bordallo wrote. " As you are likely aware that has already been a significant amount of interest in the DEIS and many have noted its complexity."

The draft EIS was made public on Nov. 20, 2009. A 90-day comment window is scheduled to close on Feb. 17.

During that time, the draft EIS has been available for public review at mayors' offices, public libraries and a dedicated room at the Agana Shopping Center.

The document is also available online.


Both Cruz and Bordallo mention the federal government's decision to give Japan more time to consider an international agreement about the buildup in their letters.

According to an Associated Press article published this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accepted a decision by Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to consider relocation of the Futenma air station until May.

The allied nations agreed to move the air base off Okinawa in 2006, but a question lingers: Where should it go?

Although there has been no official word the base would come to Guam, if it did, thousands more military servicemen would be added to the island on top of the planned buildup.

In their letters, Cruz and Bordallo said Japan's delay provides the perfect opportunity to give local residents more time to comment on the draft EIS.

"The courtesy extended by the United States to the government of Japan reflects the difficult decision involved with implementing the realignment of military forces that I believe that similar considerations would benefit the DEIS on the Guam military buildup," Bordallo wrote.

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