Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Draft EIS on military buildup made easier to understand

Draft EIS on military buildup made easier to understand

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Residents have only a few days left to submit comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement by the Feb. 17 deadline. But the public forum held yesterday by the Military Integration Management Committee helped residents and agencies understand more the $15- to $20-billion military buildup in Guam and Tinian, to make it easier for them to comment on the draft EIS.

Gary Kuwabara and Rick Solander from the Office of Economic Adjustment, along with members of the Guam Advisory Consulting Team, including Matrix Design vice presidents Celeste Werner and Gary Hrapla, and Loretta Lujan of M2D2, made a presentation yesterday about the highlights of the military buildup.

The group also answered questions from some of the 45 people that showed up at the Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe yesterday morning.

The group was able to break down the estimated 11,000 pages of draft EIS to hundreds of pages of documents for CNMI and Guam residents.

Brochures containing summaries and highlights of the buildup were also distributed at the forum.

“You could get a very good overview inside, into the draft EIS. Basically you'd be able to take away what's being proposed what are the alternatives considered by the military, and what are perceived to be the major impacts associated with those preferred actions, and what they've identified that need to be mitigated, what types of mitigation measures they might propose to reduce the impacts,” said Hrapla.

Hrapla encouraged residents to visit the Web site, www.one.guam.gov for more information about the buildup.

Residents can also access the draft EIS at www.guambuildupeis.us.

The CNMI government, through MIMC, has been working on consolidating government agency comments on the draft EIS.

An internal MIMC deadline for these draft comments is set for Feb. 9.

As with the public hearings held by the U.S. military earlier this month, residents yesterday voiced their concerns with the buildup, as well as their support or opposition to the massive project. Residents have been weighing the pros and cons of the U.S. Department of Defense project, which includes military training ranges on Tinian.

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 kilometers 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.

The relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam will start in the next couple of years and estimates currently show Guam’s population to increase by 35,000 people. This realignment will substantially impact the community and infrastructure on Guam as well as provide economic opportunities throughout the region. (Saipan Tribune)

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