Saturday, May 01, 2010

Build up Speed Up

Buildup speed up .
Friday, 30 April 2010 01:03
by Gerardo Partido
Marianas Variety News Staff

Any doubts that the military buildup on Guam won't happen were dashed earlier this week when Japan prime minister Yukio Hatoyama reportedly told the U.S. that he would abide with the original 2006 military realignment agreement.

Before that, some members of Hatoyama's coalition had been boasting that they would defy the U.S. and relocate the Futenma airbase outside Okinawa, perhaps even transfer it to Guam.

But the Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, reported that President Obama told Hatoyama in no uncertain terms that Japan must abide by the original agreement or else.

Of course, Hatoyama, the next day, denied that he had caved in. He even joined a rally in Okinawa that called for the removal of the Futenma base. But that is just face-saving, an attempt to appease his constituents.

The Washington Post report is credible because Obama has long looked for a chance to prove that he is no wimp when it comes to global security issues. He has already been widely criticized for letting the Futenma issue stew. So his reported "blunt" talk with Hatoyama during the recent nuclear talks held in Washington D.C. has a ring of truth to it.

Hatoyama's self-imposed deadline of May for announcing his decision on Futenma is now upon us. Many analysts believe that his final decision will not be a radical departure from the original agreement. Perhaps small changes here and there to give a show of not totally capitulating to the U.S. But nothing radical to anger the U.S. and risk Japan's more than 50-year security relationship with the U.S.

There has been talk of minor revisions such as changes in the runway plan or pushing the proposed relocation site further away from population centers. The U.S. can live with these changes and is expected to give Hatoyama the political breathing room he needs.

Here on Guam, we are back to where we started and there is an even bigger sense of urgency now that it seems that the buildup will push through after all.

Nothing has been heard about the draft environmental impact statement since the comment period expired. The military, especially the JGPO, has been very reticent about whether concerns raised against the DEIS have been addressed. A "deafening" silence, as military buildup chair Sen. Judith Guthertz characterized it.

And yet, there are signs that the military buildup is speeding up. Younex has just broken ground on its $200 million workforce village that is capable of housing 18,000 guest workers expected to come to Guam for the buildup.

There are also rumors that teams of civilian-military contractors are already scouting areas where at least 9 new DoDEA schools will be constructed for the children of military personnel.

Ditto for the Barrigada area where the planned Army ballistic missile unit will be located. The teams are supposedly already planning for the area's "preliminary water piping." Now, water service has always been a sore point among Barrigada residents. Imagine the additional strain that the newcomers will bring to the water infrastructure in the area.

In fact, many are saying now that the water demand alone from the buildup is so massive that it warrants an entirely new and separate environmental impact study, especially with the military planning to dig up its own water wells to supplement the existing supply.

This is true as well for the Apra Harbor portion of the buildup plan, with its many facets covering possible ill effects on the marine environment in the area, including the possible danger of radioactivity.

All in all, the Guam military buildup plan is so huge and all-encompassing that in other states in the mainland, such an undertaking would require various, separate environmental impact studies.

In the meantime, errors in the one DEIS that we currently have continue to be uncovered. Some are laughable were it not for the fact that it is our island they are talking about. Imagine, making an elementary mistake on the sequence of the Guam and Pearl Harbor bombing?

Also, there's the possibility that sections of the DEIS may have been plagiarized. As the UOG professor who blew the whistle on the plagiarism said, if one part of the report is a lie then the whole thing becomes suspect.

And the U.S. government paid $87 million for this report! If they had employed more local professionals, perhaps the report would have been more accurate and more of those federal dollars would have stayed on island.

With such glaring mistakes and the wholesale condemnation of the report by the feds' own U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the federal government must consider redoing the whole DEIS and starting from scratch.

The military can't just release a final record of decision based on a draft that has been proven to be defective. There's simply no way we can accept a final EIS if that is based on the old DEIS.

We all want the economic benefits of the military expansion to start as soon as possible, but the buildup must be done properly so that our island suffers the least damage from it.

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