26 Apr 2017
- By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
REPRESENTATIVE Angel Demapan is concerned over the Navy’s decision to restart the cultural-and-historic-properties consultation or Section 106 meetings for the CNMI Joint Military Training Environmental Impact Statement or CJMT EIS.
Demapan said the military issued a notice for its first meeting held Tuesday, April 25, on Tinian and for another meeting, Wednesday, April 26, in the Office on Aging conference room on Saipan from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Demapan, vice chairman of House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs, said restarting the Section 106 meetings is premature pursuant to the agreement reached by the CNMI and the U.S. Department of Defense during the previously held 902 consultation process.
“As discussed and outlined in the 902 report, the DoD committed to increasing its involvement with the CNMI government as part of its environmental planning to ensure that the amount of land it seeks to acquire is the minimum necessary to support its defense purposes,” he said.
“Thus, the DoD proposed the creation of a CNMI/DoD Coordinating Council, which was to serve as forum where the parties can work together to seek approaches that support DoD’s military missions and the CNMI’s concerns for economic self-sufficiency. This coordinating council has not been completely organized and has not started its work yet.”
Demapan said because the coordinating council has not started working, it is premature to restart Section 106 meetings.
He said the council should be allowed to start working first so that the CNMI’s concerns can be heard and considered as the process moves along.
“Another issue that concerns me is that these meetings are being started over again without waiting for the revised EIS to be released,” he added.
“If you recall, following the submission of numerous public comments on the CJMT Draft EIS, the military decided to go back to the drawing board and come up with a revised draft EIS, but that has not happened yet.
“The proposed CNMI/DoD Coordinating Council should be allowed to do its work first to ensure that economic impacts are thoroughly discussed. Through these discussions, there would be a better opportunity to seek a common understanding on how DoD’s use of the land can balance its critical need for training without adverse economic consequences, and maybe even improving the CNMI’s socio-economic condition.
“Nonetheless, this issue is still of great concern because despite the tremendous opposition from residents regarding the military’s proposals for Tinian and Pagan, the goals of the military have not changed.
“They still want to use Tinian and Pagan for their proposed training plans.”
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/94776-rep-angel-demapan-questions-cjmt-meetings