Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Get your DEIS comments in!

Get your DEIS comments in!

Posted: Feb 14, 2010 2:22 PM
Updated: Feb 14, 2010 4:41 PM

by Michele Catahay

Guam - Island residents have until this Thursday to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Marines' relocation from Okinawa to Guam. Back in 2006 an agreement was signed between Japan and the United States to move a portion of the U.S. Marine Corps Station in Okinawa to Guam. The plan would essentially transform the island in the Western Pacific into a giant arm of the Department of Defense.

According to the DoD's DEIS, by 2014 the island is anticipated to see its population of roughly 150,000 people increase significantly to 230,000 at its peak. That's an increase of 80,000 people within four years. The EIS outlines alternatives to develops and construct facilities and infrastructure to support the move. It also evaluates the impact of a new deep draft wharf to support a transient nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

The EIS also explores the impact of plans by the Army to develop facilities and infrastructure to operate a missile defense system. This would include relocating approximately 600 military personnel and their 900 dependents to Guam. While the island has until this Thursday to comment, the Guam Boonie Stompers along with the We Are Guahan Coalition hosted a clean up in Pagat, which happens to be one of the areas proposed to build a firing range for training.

Guam Boonie Stompers president David Lotz said his organization, "has a petition drive to submit to the buildup DEIS to keep these trails open, and I feel that's important for the community and even for the military to work towards preserving the island's heritage...if you look at the Quadrennial Defense Review, it actually says it's going to transform the island into a military base and it has to be very seriously looked at. Who is really going to control the future of the island? Is it the military or the people of guam?"

Yona resident Ulysses Story says negative impacts outweigh the positive ones for the island, saying, "To me, I think its traffic and another thing is racism. I mean, people, I think Chamorro people like to preserve their culture and bringing in people that are trying to assimilate them but they don't want to so I think it'll cause some conflict on racism."

Chalan Pago resident Ida San Nicolas says she's in support of the buildup, saying the military has a strong ability to help boast the local economy. "My child is 16 and it is his generation that it affects. My son has confronted me about it, and he has some issues with it but for me, we should let them speak also not just us and just saying what we think. All the jobs are for them and that's what I like is to be able to have some jobs," said San Nicolas.

Mangilao resident Aphea Imperial says while there may be some environmental impacts noted in the DEIS, she says the buildup will provide more opportunities for the island community, noting, "There are a lot of opportunities for the community like there are going to be a lot of jobs but there are also bad sides to it like our ecosystems, and it's just going to be overpopulated and guam is so small and i think it's good. i see military people and they help out a lot."

Again, you have until this Thursday to comment on the Draft EIS. To view the voluminous document, log on to GuamBuildupEIS.us.

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