04 Jun 2013
- By Emmanuel T. Erediano - email@example.com - Variety News Staff
THE U.S. military buildup, the local people’s clamor for homestead lots, the government’s desire for pozzolan mining and geothermal exploration are the competing interest on Pagan that concern Department of Public Lands acting Secretary Pete A. Tenorio.
A former lt, governor and Washington representative, Tenorio said DPL should play a neutral role when the CNMI government starts its negotiations with the U.S. military about the possible use of Pagan for live-fire training.
In his remarks during yesterday’s public hearing on his nomination as DPL secretary, Tenorio at the same time expressed concern about the U.S. military’s plan to use the remote volcanic island for training.
“So what do we do with future homesteading, the pozzolan resource, geothermal and hydrothermal resources for electricity generation in the future, and economic development of Pagan in the form of eco-tourism destinations, among other public purposes in the face of some imminent and competing interest?” he asked.
This question, Tenorio said, will continue to face lawmakers. “We all hope that some meaningful balance in addressing all needs and concerns are reached,” he added.
He said one of the challenges that DPL and the CNMI government face is providing local people public land for homesteads both residential and agricultural. He said this is a major challenge because public land continues to “reduce in size and usability.”
“It may be necessary to be bold and to start really seriously looking at our Northern Islands’ public lands for long-term homesteading,” Tenorio said.
He noted that it is challenging to manage a department faced with so many controversies. He also has to think about the most appropriate and productive ways to maximize revenue from public land resources.
“I look to our Legislature for guidance and cooperation which will challenge DPL to be as responsive as possible in resolving land issues and in managing and disposing of public lands as our forefathers intended us to do,” Tenorio told the Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigation.
In an interview after the public hearing, Tenorio told reporters that DPL will have to deal with the competing interests on Pagan.
Although he is personally concerned about the impact of the military activity on Pagan, Tenorio said: “I have a neutral position as far as that goes and I have to be objective on this. Of course I have concerns about what is going to happen to homesteads, pozzolan and other potential uses of Pagan. Those are the questions that the military should also look at. There are economic and social issues. So we must address the military’s lease of Pagan. We don’t just isolate things. We are going to have to consider them as a whole and have some kind of balance. That is why I am remaining neutral about this thing because eventually DPL will be a negotiator. Once DPL has an opinion, it will become biased.”