Friday, May 21, 2010

War Reparations Revived

Bordallo revives war claims:
Guam bill to piggy-back on defense spending act
By Amritha Alladi
Pacific Daily News
May 22, 2010

The island's World War II survivors are confident Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo will garner the congressional support she needs to pass an amendment to the fiscal 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that would pay war reparations to World War II survivors on Guam.

On Thursday, Bordallo announced she will include H.R. 44, The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, as an addition to the 2011 defense spending bill, which was unanimously passed by the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.
The amendment will be added when the bill heads to the floor of the House of Representatives next week, Bordallo said in a press release.

"This strategy is identical to what was done with war claims in last year's defense spending bill due to procedural issues in the Armed Services Committee," Bordallo stated in the release. "The House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act will still need to be reconciled with the Senate's version of the defense spending bill. H.R. 44 remains my top legislative priority and I am confident that this strategy is the most effective means of advancing war claims legislation."

Last year, her amendment was successfully adopted by the full House by voice vote as part of a block of amendments during passage of the National Defense Authorization Act 2010, Bordallo's release stated. However, that war claims provision was excluded from the 2010 defense spending bill after Bordallo rejected a compromise measure from Senate leaders, Pacific Daily News files show.

According to Bordallo, the committee's chairman, Rep. Ike Skelton, has reiterated his support for the inclusion of war claims in the defense bill again this year.
But before the entire defense spending bill reaches the House floor for a final vote, it will be considered by the Rules Committee where they will make certain amendments in order.

The bill will then go to the floor where only amendments made in order by the Rules Committee are debated, according to Bordallo's office.

She said the amendment wasn't considered during full committee mark-up on Wednesday due to procedural issues with provisions that are out of the House Armed Services Committee's jurisdiction, Bordallo stated in her release.

According to Guam war survivor Tom Barcinas, this strategy is a pretty standard legislative procedure.

"The amendment is a very normal way of getting things through," he said yesterday. "I'm sure that (the) congresswoman will garner enough support."

Barcinas went to Washington, D.C., in December to share his stories of surviving the Japanese occupation of Guam during World War II. He also testified about the importance of war claims for a survivor, according to Pacific Daily News files.
He applauded Bordallo for her efforts to include this provision into this year's defense budget, adding that Bordallo should move on the issue expeditiously.
He said he's ready to mobilize support for the amendment if she needs it for the amendment to be included.

"If she needs anything from the Guam group, if we have to start a letter-writing campaign or e-mail to help her (convince) all members of the Congress, we'll be very happy to get things going," he said.

Bordallo last year did not accept a Senate compromise offer that would have paid reparations to living Chamorro survivors of World War II, but excluded payments to spouses and children of Guam's war survivors who have died.

Bordallo said at the time she believed the offer was contrary to what the community has said it wanted.

Bordallo's previous bill would have resulted in $126 million for war reparations for Guam survivors of the Japanese occupation during World War II.

Piti Mayor Ben Gumataotao said if it's the World War II survivors they need to focus on in the first round to get the amendment passed, that's fine. The immediate need is for the survivors, he said.

"A lot of the survivors are dying on a daily basis," Gumataotao said.
If needed, islanders can push for war claims for the survivors' heirs during a "second round," he said.

Since the U.S. decided to take on the responsibility of paying war claims from Japan, Gumataotao said it should honor that commitment.

"The responsibility should be coming from our lovely country the U.S," he said. "At that time, they took the responsibility, so let them be an honorable country."

GEPA Oversight Hearing

Head of Guam EPA shows at oversight hearing
Posted: May 21, 2010 4:44 PM
by Nick Delgado

Guam - Lawmakers spent the afternoon questioning budget officials as well as village mayors before grilling Guam Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lorilee Crisostomo about how she's been operating her agency.

"Alarm bells are now sounding in Guam, and they are sounding because of the state of the Guam Environmental Protection Agency. The concerns are being presented by a broad cross-section of the community, ranging from grassroots people to business leaders and most especially by the Environmental Protection Agency," said oversight chairman Senator Rory Respicio (D).

Respicio called for today's oversight hearing on the Guam EPA after a scathing financial mismanagement report surfaced from the environmental agencies federal counterparts. Respicio during today's hearing said the oversight is necessary so that they can prevent an environmental disaster from occurring, something the senator says is possible with the way things are currently operating at the Guam EPA. The federal report stated a lack of communication with the USEPA and the Bureau of Budget Management & Research.

BBMR Director Bertha Duenas says however she has said from the beginning that she anticipates financial troubles for the Guam EPA. "We knew that the payroll alone was over $2 million and the next award wasn't until April, then it's pretty easy to see without too much math that we're going to run out of money soon in October."

BBMR is now working out the issues stated in the USEPA report.

But after about two-and-a-half hours of not being given the opportunity to speak, senators flooded Crisostomo with criticism and questions, as lawmakers feel the agency may be on the brink of federal receivership. It's an issue Respicio called Crisostomo out on, as he anticipates the problems at the agency will only get worse with the impending military buildup.

Respicio said, "What concerns me is it took USEPA to call out the DoD to say that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement gave it the worst grade ever, you were pretty silent throughout that whole process." Crisostomo replied, "We are just one of the government agencies, we are not the cooperative agency for the NEPA process our voice is just as much as your voice in the NEPA process, but we do an extensive review."

Although Crisostomo has called the federal report "inaccurate", the agency is reviewing the recommendations in the report to determine if it's possible for them to comply with.

When asked about the illegal dump fire in Yigo and the Notice of Violation issued against the property owner, Joseph Taitano, she said although it happened before her time. She followed-up and the matter, she reassured, is sitting with the AG's Office for further action.

Meanwhile, Senator Respicio said it seemed as though Crisostomo had an excuse for everything and added that today's hearing was not a witch hunt.

566 Million for Guam from DOD

Guam gets $566M under ‘11 DoD budget .
Friday, 21 May 2010 06:14
by Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Marianas Variety News Staff

THE U.S. House Armed Services Committee has unanimously approved its version of the 2011 defense spending legislation that appropriates $566 million for 12 new military projects on Guam, Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo announced yesterday.
The bill also authorizes the Department of Defense to transfer operations and maintenance funding to Guam to bankroll local infrastructure projects to support the military expansion on island. If the appropriations measure is signed into law, the defense department would be authorized to transfer up to $500 million through fiscal year 2017.

“The bill will now move for full consideration on the floor of the House of Representatives next week,” according to a press release from Bordallo’s office.

The proposed allotment for Guam construction is a component of the $708 billion budget request for the Department of Defense’s ongoing contingency operations overseas outlined in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, or H.R. 5136.

“The House Armed Services Committee renewed its commitment to ensuring that the military buildup on Guam is done right,” said Bordallo, who has sponsored several provisions that seek to address Guam’s infrastructure needs to support a population surge.

Another salient feature of the bill provides for the transfer control of Navy’s water, including Fena Reservoir, and wastewater system to the Guam Waterworks Authority.

“This authority will help to eliminate unnecessary redundancies and create economies of scales in our current water and wastewater system that could ultimately improve service across the island,” Bordallo said.

“More importantly, while GWA will have to ultimately pay a fair market value to convey the Navy’s system the total cost can be offset by the cost of unreimbursed Compact-Impact costs to Guam,” she added.

The water provision in the bill, Bordallo said, serves as the cue to start serious discussions over water issues and the possibility of an eventual transfer of Navy water assets to GWA.
Other highlights of the bill are as follows:

• Extends authority to provide travel and transportation allowances for inactive duty training outside of normal commuting distances for members of the Reserve Component. The authority directly supports the training and readiness requirements of the Guam National Guard and is critical for their recruiting of service members from locations outside of Guam;

• Requires the Secretary of Interior to prepare a report on civilian infrastructure needs for Guam. The report would detail the infrastructure improvements needed to directly and indirectly support and sustain the military build-up as well as outline potential funding sources for such improvements from other federal sources;

• Secured additional $635,000 in funding for the Navy Sea Cadet Corps to fully meet their funding requirements. The additional funding will help to lower the out-of-pocket costs for cadets across the United States including on Guam;

• Requires a report from the Secretary of Navy by December 31, 2010 on the methods that the Secretary will use to ensure common standards for workforce housing and medical care. The report is in response to concerns regarding the lack of a coherent and comprehensive framework from the federal government on their expectation of contractors regarding workforce housing and medical needs requirements. The report indicates Congressional preference to ensure appropriate oversight of these matters to avoid unnecessary negative impacts on the local community;

• The Comptroller General will review and assess the proposed design for the replacement Naval Hospital on Guam to ensure the size and scope of the new facility meets anticipated future mission requirements and increased retiree and veteran populations on Guam;
• Requires the Secretary of Defense to study the feasibility of establishing TRICARE Prime option for TRICARE beneficiaries in the territories including Guam. The report is due within 6 months of passage of the bill;
• Maintain $318 million for funding procurement of 8 C-27J “Joint Cargo Aircraft” as proposed in the President’s Budget; and
• Added $700 million for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account to improve readiness and preparedness for future missions. The increased funding for Guard and Reserve equipment begins to address nearly $42.5 billion in equipment shortages across all the Reserve Components.
box (if there is space)

Fiscal Year 2011 Military Construction Authorizations

Service Project Cost
Air Force Andersen AFB – Guam Strike Ops Group & Tanker Task Force $9,100,000
Air Force Andersen AFB – Guam Strike South Ramp Utilities, Phase 1 $12,200,000
Air Force Andersen AFB – PRTC – Combat Communications Operations Facility $9,200,000
Air Force Andersen AFB – PRTC – Red Horse HDQ/Engineering Facility $8,000,000
Air Force Andersen AFB – PRTC – Commando Warrior Open Bay Student Barracks $11,800,000
Army National Guard Combined Support Maintenance Ship Ph1 $19,000,000
Army National Guard Readiness Center (Assembly Hall/SRP) $778,000
Navy Marine Aviation - AAFB North Ramp Improvements Phase 1, Increment 2 $93,588,000
Navy Marine Aviation - AAFB North Ramp Utilities Phase 1, Increment 2 $79,350,000
Navy Apra Harbor Wharves Improvement Phase 1 $40,000,000
Navy Defense Access Road Improvements $66,730,000
Navy Finegayan Site Prep and Utilities $147,210,000
Defense Health Programs Hospital Replacement Increment 2 $70,000,000
Grand Total $566,956,000

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don't Let Guam Sink into Oblivion

“Do Not Allow Guam to Sink into Oblivion”
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Conference 2010 NYC
by: Melvin Won Pat-Borja,
Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice/We Are Guahan

During a congressional hearing on the Guam military buildup in early April, US Representative Hank Johnson said that he feared the Military Relocation on Guam would cause our tiny island to capsize and sink. The comment, though not meant to be taken literally, caused an uproar among Chamorus everywhere. People were so outraged at his perceived ignorance that they continually bashed him in the media and all over the internet. The sad truth however is that Guam WILL sink. It will sink under the weight of tons of toxic waste dumped by the military each year, sink under the pressure of contaminated drinking water, sink under the weight of overpopulated schools, massive amounts of traffic, inadequate health care, and extreme over population. If this military expansion goes as planned, the people of Guam will surely sink to the bottom of the Marianas Trench and become nothing more than a footnote in America's colonial history.

Our story began centuries ago when we first sailed from the coast of south east asia and made this beautiful chain of islands our home, but for the sake of time, THIS story will begin when the DEIS (draft environmental impact statement) for Guam and the military buildup was released in November of last year. The document laid the blueprint for the transfer of 8,000 marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam. It was an 11,000 page document that held our future in the margins of the paper it was printed on and the public was only given 90 days to comment on it. The plans suggested that Guam was the best alternative to right the wrongs that America's armed forces had imposed on the people of Okinawa. The Department of Defense had chosen Guam because South Korea, the Philipines, California, and Hawaii all said "no." But the sad reality is that Guam was never offered that same courtesy. We are an unincorporated territory of the United States, leaving us victim to whatever decision America makes, whether it is beneficial for us or not. Guam is America's dirty little secret, the step child that no one ever talks about. We are affectionately referred to as the place "where America's day begins," but no one likes to admit that America starts each day with injustice. We have traditionally been loyal servants, patriots, and second class citizens, enlisting more soldiers per capita than anywhere else in the world. It makes me wonder if America could even have a military without people like us. We are as American as apple pie and baseball when there is war on the horizon or when strategic positioning in the Pacific is needed, but we are not American when it is time to vote in congress or the senate or when it is time to elect a new president.

When you read about the military buildup on Guam, many media sources portray the move as positive on all sides, hailing economic benefits as its saving grace. The people of Guam have been sold the idea of 33,000 new jobs that will stimulate our suffering economy, providing work for families in desperate need of some kind of income.

Our government has been sold the idea that millions of federal dollars will go to fund desperately needed infrastructural upgrades. And the rest of the nation has been sold ideas of potential business ventures that promise them desperately needed money and success.

Indeed, the global economy has created desperate times for all of us and it seems that selling Guam to the highest bidder is the answer.

Thousands of jobs and millions of dollars have a way of sounding too good to be true and upon reading the massive 11,000 page document it has become clear that it is indeed a wolf in sheep's clothing. Nothing is what it seems and all of their promises are empty. Like their promise of 33,000 new jobs predicting an economic upturn for Guam in reality, a mere 17 percent of those jobs will go to the local community while the vast majority of jobs will go to the foreign work force from around the region. As we speak, people from all over the world and the US are making preparations to move to Guam in search of business opportunities. They promise financial prosperity to the people, but even the measly 17 percent of total jobs they will offer are mostly temporary construction work, which will cause unemployment to sky-rocket once the construction is completed. The DEIS even states that they predict a "recession-like atmosphere" after the construction phase is over. They say that there are incredible gains for our local government, which will absorb millions of dollars from the federal government, but nowhere in the DEIS does the federal government make any kind of commitment to support infrastructure outside the fence. In fact, of the billions of dollars coming from the federal government and the Japanese Diet, a vast majority is earmarked for infrastructural upgrades on base only. The DEIS suggests that the government of Guam will reap its financial benefits from an increase in tax dollars as a result of the population boom, but it doesn't take into account the amount of money we will also have to spend in order to service all these people. They predict that Guam's population will increase by almost 80,000 people. On an island that is only 31 miles long and 7 miles wide with a current population of 170,000 people it's not hard to imagine Guam sinking to the bottom of the ocean floor. When you translate these numbers into social services, it becomes clear that the Government of Guam will find itself in dire straits trying to maintain an acceptable level of community care. The DEIS predicts that our hospital, which sees a shortage of beds on a daily basis, will see an increase of over 41,000 patients. Yet the DEIS only has plans to upgrade Naval Hospital, a facility that not only denies health services to our general public, but consistently fails to care for our local veterans as well. They predict that the Department of Public Health and Social Services along with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse will see an increase of nearly 23,000 more patients. Our Public School system will see 8,000 new students and the DEIS recommends that we build 5 new public schools. We will also require 532 new teachers in our public school system, which already has to fill 300 vacancies each year. There are a number of infrastructural upgrades that Guam will require in order to cope with the demands that 80,000 more people bring to our community, but there is no commitment by the Military or the Federal Government to support us financially. We are being forced to bear the burden of this buildup on our own. Once again, America has found a way to make a mess and the people of Guam will be forced to clean up after them.

Of course with any massive change in population we must also take into account the impact that such changes will have on our environment. Two major proposals in the DEIS are the dredging of 71 acres of coral reef in Apra Harbor to make room for a nuclear aircraft carrier and the acquisition of ancestral land for a live firing range.

The military plans to dock their nuclear aircraft carrier in our local harbor instead of using their own Kilo Wharf, the harbor that they already occupy. The US Environmental Protection Agency claims that this dredging project is unprecedented and that the impact on the biologically diverse ecosystem cannot be mitigated. DoD experts claim that most of the reef in the area they want to dredge is already dead and that there isn't much wildlife that will be adversely impacted, but our local marine biologists have found species of coral that have not yet been identified and could be endemic to this region. Furthermore, the way in which they propose to dredge the reef may have lasting impact on surrounding reefs and ecosystems as a result of sediment which could suffocate and destroy the species of coral down current. The plans for Apra Harbor in the DEIS demonstrate the military's lack of concern and insensitivity to the issues facing Guam; in fact, it was just recently discovered by a local marine biologist that certain sections in the DEIS (particularly the sections on Apra Harbor) were plagiarized!

The land that the military wishes to acquire for their firing range is rich in cultural history and significance, containing ancient artifacts and ancestral remains that cannot be mitigated or replaced by any sum of money.

Some parcels of land are owned by local residents who refuse to sell or lease, but the military insists on applying pressure to these private land owners as the threat of eminent domain hangs in the balance like it did after world war II, when residents were given a "take it or lose it" option when it came to private property. Most of the land that the military currently occupies was "purchased" for little to nothing in most cases and not selling was not an option.

Upon review of the DEIS, the US Environmental Protection Agency rated it "insufficient" and "environmentally unsatisfactory," giving it the lowest possible rating for a DEIS. Among other things, the US EPA's findings suggest that Guam's water infrastructure cannot handle the population boom and that our fresh water resources will be at high risk for contamination. Our waste water system is in desperate need of upgrades and the population increase threatens to cause overflow and run off which could permanently pollute our fresh water lens. The increase in demand for fresh water will require that we dig up 22 new water wells especially to serve the military population up north, but several experts believe that digging so many new wells in close proximity to each other puts us at high risk of salt water contamination. Once a fresh water well is contaminated by salt water, the effects are irreversible. Officials at the Guam Waterworks Authority claim that we have more than enough water to handle the burden of 80,000 additional people, but the DEIS has plans for a desalinization plant, which is normally only used if fresh water resources are limited or jeopardized. In addition, the US EPA predicts that without infrastructural upgrades to our water system, the population outside the bases will experience a 13.1 million gallon water shortage per day in 2014. And this is where the battle gets interesting.

Though it seems that the odds are already stacked against us and that we can rely on no one but ourselves, we have found that special interest groups like the Guam Chamber of Commerce and the Guam Visitors Bureau have been avid proponents of the military buildup. They target our marginalized population enticing them with dreams of economic prosperity. Over 25 percent of Guam's population lives below the poverty line and poverty is possibly the most powerful weapon in conquering a people.

These special interest groups and even some government officials including our Governor and our representative in congress prey on our people, dangling money over their heads while unemployment looms in the background like the Gestapo. These house slaves promise that life will be so much better with the buildup and threaten that foreign countries will invade if the buildup does not happen. We are being subjugated by US imperialism and dependency and our own people have become our own worst enemy. Right now, our representative in congress claims that the people of Guam welcome this buildup with open arms and that we will gladly "take one for the team." But we have never really been a part of America's Team. We are like the black athletes of the 30's and 40's whose accolades on the field were heralded, but couldn't even get a cab off the field.

We, the people, have found ourselves backed into a corner, deserted on the battlefield, left to fight the world's largest superpower. It is truly a case of David vs. Goliath. Though the military buildup on Guam seems like a losing battle, this terroristic threat to our homeland has caused an uprising among the youth and many have stepped up to fight and defend our island and its people. But we cannot win this alone, so we are calling on our brothers and sisters from across the globe; those of you who know the bitter taste of oppression, we urge you fight alongside us in solidarity. We want this buildup no more than Okinawa wants the Marines to stay put. The military has already stolen almost 30 percent of the total land mass in Guam. We cannot allow them to take even more from us. We have sacrificed time and again for a country that has led us astray with empty promises and half-truths; who have held us hostage with US citizenship, fear, and economic dependency. We need your help. We need environmental law experts to help us take this issue to court. We need media support to get our message out to the rest of the world. We need more representation and influence to help us fight in congress and the senate. We need the international community to help us stay afloat and not allow us to sink into a sea of indifference, ignorance, and apathy. I pray that these words do not fall on deaf ears and that the world will come to the aid of a people and an island who have been mistreated for over 500 years of uninterrupted colonization. Please do not allow Guam to sink into oblivion.

Buildup Remains Contentious

Buildup burden remains contentious issue
Updated: May 10, 2010 6:37 PM
by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - With a decision looming on the contentious issue on where the U.S. Marines' Futenma Air Base will be relocated, here at home the push continues to ensure Guam isn't left shouldering the burden to pay for the infrastructure needed to handle the military buildup. Governor Felix Camacho and CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial will head to Tokyo Wednesday to continue dialogue from this weekend in Saipan regarding the Marines relocation.

"I had gone there Saturday morning and met with six members of the Japan Diet that are very interested in our point of view," said the governor. "They are members of the Democratic Party of Japan, the current ruling party that is in place."

Governor Camacho says the talks in Saipan gave the two leaders the opportunity to meet face to face with the delegation from the ruling party, and express to them how Guam was never part of the discussions or negotiations involving the Marines relocation when the status of forces agreement was signed between the U.S. and Japan in 2006.

Camacho continued, "They made decisions that will impact and effect our territory our people our way of life without any consultation, and secondly that the impact and cost that it will bring to us is there expecting us to absorb that is absolutely not right."

The governor specifically referencing Japan's commitment of $6 billion to move the Marines out of Okinawa to Guam and how not a penny will go toward civilian infrastructure needs to accommodate the growth. For example, it's estimated just for power and water alone it will cost about $1.3 billion in upgrades.

He said, "We have no access to that $6 billion and yet we're on one island with shared resources of water, electricity of land and the like and unless we are given an opportunity it's not fair and right to the people of Guam. We should not be expected to or can we cover the cost that will be imposed on the people of Guam, and I'm asking for access to the $6 billion that is confined only to expenditures within the fenceline."

According to the governor the two are hoping to meet with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Thursday. Camacho says after the meeting he will fly home that same evening. The governor's trip to Tokyo comes amidst talks that are scheduled to be held this week in Washington on the contentious Futenma issue and where the relocation facility will be located.

According to the 2006 agreement it is supposed to be built in Henoko. As we reported last week, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama changed his stance from his pre-election campaign position last year that Futenma must be moved out of Okinawa completely to last week's announcement that realistically that would be impossible. A final decision on Futenma is expected to be made by the end of the month.. As we reported a report from the Government Accountability Office noted that if the Futenma Replacement Facility is not constructed the relocation of the Marines from Okinawa to Guam will not occur.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Guam EPA Under Scrutiny

GEPA under scrutiny .
Thursday, 06 May 2010 05:05
by Therese Hart
Marianas Variety News Staff

EPA official says environment agency facing high-risk status

REPRESENTATIVES from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are currently on island to look into the Guam EPA’s financial control system, which a report found to be mismanaged.

Enrique Manzanilla, director of EPA’s communities and ecosystems division, earlier told Guam EPA administrator Lorilee Crisostomo that the fiscal mismanagement could place the agency under a high-risk status.

EPA’s 2009 End of Year Program Review Summary found that in the last two years, Guam EPA has been hiring staff without increasing its revenues.

Gerry Cruz, public information officer for GEPA, said yesterday that Crisostomo was off-island and she would have to review the report thoroughly before she could comment.

An administration officer in Adelup, who requested not to be identified, said Crisostomo is likely to be placed on administrative leave once she gets back from her trip.

Manzanilla stated in his letter to the Guam EPA administrator that his staff has discussed the agency’s financial difficulties with Crisostomo over the last two years.

Cruz said EPA officials are working with Guam EPA and discussing all the points made in the report.

Cruz said the problems that GEPA is facing “didn’t just happen overnight.” He said there were some good points EPA mentioned about the progress GEPA is making in spite of its financial woes.

In discussions with Crisostomo, the administrative services office and other Guam EPA managers, EPA stated it was unclear how the local agency prioritizes its work, controls its finances or even whether it can determine if it is able to meet its salary and other operational expenses for the rest of the fiscal year.

The EPA report concluded that Guam EPA has not taken any steps to prevent the cash flow deficit from happening at the beginning of fiscal year 2011.

As an indicator of the difficulty GEPA will have meeting its expenses this year, Guam EPA’s salary expenses alone will total over $3 million. Local mandates require Guam EPA staff salaries to be paid exclusively by the EPA grant.

USEPA’s total consolidated grant for the year is $3.2 million, which is extended to cover salary plus other operational expenses. Because the EPA grant is encumbered for special purposes, less than $3 million of the grant is actually available for GEPA salaries.

“It is unlikely that current EPA funding would cover existing GEPA salaries, let alone contractors, project implementation, other operational expenses, unanticipated expenses, or higher-than-anticipated costs. This is a problem for an agency that is mostly funded by EPA’s grant,” Manzanilla stated in his letter to Crisostomo.

“Clearly there is a pattern of behavior that hardly helps its financial difficulties. The pattern over the last few years has been a ‘boom or bust’ system: funds have been frozen during the beginning of year cash flow “deficit” crisis GEPA experiences. Then an ad hoc hiring and other spending decisions are made after receiving EPA’s first grant award in spring, followed by spending cuts on an as-needed basis as the fiscal year closes,” the EPA report stated.

“This process has contributed to the financial problems described…and it is a fundamental deficiency,” according to the report.


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Belau Wants Okinawa Marines

Senate asks U.S. to consider Angaur as Futenma relocation site
Wednesday, April 28 2010 15:19
By Bernadette H. Carreon
Palau Horizon

KOROR (Palau Horizon) – The Senate has adopted a resolution asking President Johnson Toribiong to offer the State of Angaur as an alternative location for the United States’ Airbase following plans to relocate the Futenma Airbase from Okinawa, Japan.

Resolution 8-53 stated that Angaur State can be utilized for the “United States military, strategic planning for the relocation of the Futenma Airbase from Okinawa, Japan.”

Resolution 8-53 requests President Johnson Toribiong to discuss with the government of the United States, through diplomatic channels the plan.

The resolution said that under the Compact of Free Association, U.S. has the right options to use lands in Palau for military defense.

The resolution cited that on the April 13-15, 2010 issue of the Palau Horizon, two members of the Japanese Diet; namely, the Honorable Takamine Zenshin and Tinian-born Representative Teruya Kantoku, expressed strong desire for the Island of Tinian in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as a likely site to relocate Futenma Airbase from Okinawa, Japan.

The senators said historically Angaur has been used as a military support by the U.S. during World War II.

The resolution stated that a nearly 10,000 feet runway was constructed on Angaur Island from September 17-30, 1944 following a six-day, non-stop bombardment by USS Tennessee and landing on Angaur of the US 81st Infantry Division under the Command of Major General Paul J. Muller and from this newly constructed airfield US military aircrafts flew over to and bombed the Island of Peleliu and that said Angaur airfield provided much needed support for the invasion and the eventual US victory of the Battle of Peleliu.

It added, several years later said Angaur Airfield was put to civilian use as interim airport for commercial airplanes to land throughout the time Airai International Airport was under construction for resurfacing and extension of the runways.

Under Title III, Article II – Defense Sites and Operating Rights – in Section 321 of the Compact of Free Association “allows the United States to establish and use defense sites in Palau, and may designate land and water areas and improvements in accordance with terms and conditions set forth in a separate subsidiary agreement known as the Military Use and Operating Rights Agreement.”

Japan wanted the airbase out of Okinawa.

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.

Cut and Paste Report

Portions of DEIS plagiarized, says UOG prof
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 05:58
by Jennifer Naylor Gesick
Marianas Variety News Staff

SOME portions of the draft environmental impact statement for the Guam military buildup revealed a case of “blatant plagiarism,” according to an assistant professor at the University of Guam.

Dr. Jason Biggs, assistant professor of biology, said the discovery was “serendipitous.”

“I did not agree with that paragraph, so I wanted to look up who wrote it,” Biggs said, pointing to volume IV of the draft report that refers to the aircraft carrier berthing and the proposed dredging of Apra Harbor.

The draft study, which according to the Joint Guam Program Office cost $87 million, was written by TEC Inc., a contractor for the U.S. military.

Biggs said the Navy Coral Assessment Methodology section of the military draft report was a cut-and-paste material from the conclusion of a 2009 scientific report titled, “Coral Reef Metrics and Habitat Equivalency Analysis” by Shay Veihman, Steven M. Thur, and Gregory A. Piniak.

A representative from TEC, who requested that he be identified only as “director of administration,” admitted that the portion in question was lifted from the scientific document.

“We did not adequately give that guy attribution,” the TEC representative told Variety. “Long story short, we put the section in quotes and footnoted it further and the final version will reflect that.”

Several paragraphs pasted by TEC into the draft study were taken verbatim from the study without proper attribution. “We have made sure to make it clear that we properly give him attribution for his academic work,” the TEC representative added.

Lies and more lies

Biggs said the plagiarism makes the credibility of the draft report suspect. “When you review any scientific document, just like in a court of law, if you find one lie in it, you can not believe any of it,” he said.

“Plagiarism is sort of a lie,” Biggs said. “If they openly plagiarize right there in the first couple of paragraphs of their calculations for the global ecological impact of what they are doing, then you can not believe any of the rest of it. So, all credibility was lost as soon as they plagiarized.”

Biggs added that just as bad as the plagiarism was that the purpose of using that material in the draft report was intended to support the creation of a new habitat equivalency quantification method.

“They used it to justify creating their own method of analysis,” Biggs said, “but the basis for all economic impacts is discounted service acreage years.”

He said TEC’s analysis “has errors in that it does not calculate the age of coral correctly and does not take into account the three dimensional nature of the coral reef.”

“So, they are basically dropping the ecological value right from the get go just because their technique is not robust enough,” Biggs said. “This would work to the military’s advantage because it would save them money.”


In his comments on the draft study, Biggs stated that the new quantification method “grossly underestimates the rugosity of the inner Apra Harbor shoal system and the age classes of corals within them, and does not account for rare and endangered animals that are not directly observed at the time of the assessment.”

According to Biggs’ estimate, using a simplified ecological equivalency calculation to just what is known of the history of Apra Harbor, the expected result is a loss of approximately 2,460 DSAYs of coral habitat due to direct impacts alone, “which is over double that estimated within this [draft study].”

Biggs recommended that the Navy either proceed with the “no action alternative” or consider a re-evaluation of Kilo Wharf as the aircraft carrier berthing location and a subsequent relocation of smaller vessel munitions operations within inner Apra Harbor.