Tinian, Saipan hearings on military buildup's draft EIS
Friday, January 08, 2010
By Haidee V. Eugenio
By now, concerned CNMI citizens should have been reading some 11,000 pages of documents on the draft environmental impact statement related to the $15 billion to $20 billion military buildup in Guam, which also involves the use of Tinian for military training.
A copy of the draft EIS/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement can be accessed online at www.guambuildupeis.us.
Because Guam cannot accommodate all training for the relocating Marines, the military looks at Tinian to provide opportunities for training groups of 200 Marines or larger due to greater land availability.
Tinian is only about 100 miles or 160 km away from Guam.
The northern two-thirds of Tinian are leased to the U.S. Department of Defense. Company and battalion level non-live fire training areas already exist and are used on these lease parcels.
“The land, however, could be developed to accommodate live fire ranges,” the draft EIS/OES stated.
The proposed actions on Tinian include firing ranges for rifle known distance, automated combat pistol, platoon battle course, and field firing; and airspace use.
Comments on the draft EIS/OES can be submitted online, or during the public hearings set by the U.S. Navy in Guam and the CNMI.
All comments must be submitted by Feb. 17, 2010, in order to be considered in the final EIS/OES.
Two of the six public hearings set by the Joint Guam Program Office will be held on Saipan and Tinian, while the other four are being held in Guam.
The public hearing on Tinian will be held on Jan. 14, Thursday, at the Tinian Elementary School. An open house will be from 5pm to 7pm, while the public hearing will be from 7pm to 9pm.
The Saipan public hearing will be held on Jan. 15, Friday, at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe. A 5pm to 7pm open house will be followed by the public hearing at 7pm to 9pm.
The JGPO said public comments “are an important part of the environmental planning process.”
During the open house, the public can both submit written comments and ask questions of programs leaders and subject matter experts. During the two-hour formal hearing, the public can submit oral comments on the draft EIS/OES.
JGPO facilitates the realignment of U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. The agency works within the Department of Defense and with the Government of Japan, Government of Guam, U.S. Congress and federal agencies to lead and manage the delivery of required capabilities to the Marines.
The military buildup involves the relocation of 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents to Guam, and the development and construction of facilities to support the training and operations in Guam and Tinian for the relocated Marines.
It also involves the construction of a new deep-draft wharf in Apra Harbor, Guam to support a transient nuclear powered aircraft carrier.
The buildup also involves the development of facilities and infrastructure in Guam to support the relocation of some 600 military personnel and their 900 dependents to establish and operate an Army Air and Missile Defense Task Force.
The CNMI government plans to provide operational support and services to Guam instead of viewing the neighbor island as a "competition" to maximize benefits from the multi-year U.S. military buildup in Guam.