20 Aug 2013
- By Junhan B. Todeno - firstname.lastname@example.org - Variety News Staff
A STAUNCH advocate of the “Save Pagan Island” movement describes as “incomplete” the final scoping summary report by the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command on the proposed military training on Pagan and Tinian.
Jerome Aldan, program manager of the Northern Islands Mayor’s office, said the report released by Marine Forces Pacific on Friday failed to include the comments provided by Saipan developer and professional architect Herman B. Cabrera, president of HBC & Associates, detailing the eco-tourism, business development and other long-term economic potential of the volcanic island of Pagan.
Aldan said the resolution adopted by the Northern Marianas Descent Corp., a group that claims to represent over 7,000 members, was also not reflected in the scoping summary report.
He said the report likewise omitted the numerous relevant feature articles published in the local media, the feature article from the Associated Press, and the op-ed piece written by a professor from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the Honolulu Advertiser, as well as the feature article in the Common Dreams newsletter.
Aldan at the same time questioned the accuracy of the press releases written by Master Sgt. Pauline Franklin of Marine Corps Activity Guam.
One such press release stated that “local residents were able to voice their concerns and ideas through…meetings and the open-house-format scoping sessions, providing important information to scoping officials.”
Aldan said Craig Whelden, executive director for Marine Forces Pacific, was quoted as saying that “nobody knows the area better than the residents who live there, so it’s important to listen to them and take into account everything they can provide in order to fine-tune the alternatives and determine the best course of action.”
According to Aldan, however, “The voices of the residents were not accounted for in the summary scoping report.”
He said the scoping summary report falls short of being comprehensive because it has “obvious omissions” related to the “opposition to the militarization of Pagan.”
He added, “The burden of disclosure is on the military to explain to the residents of the Northern Islands and the CNMI as a whole the basis for those glaring omissions.”
Asked if they will insist on the inclusion of the comments opposed to the military proposal, Aldan said the scoping process prevents the re-opening of the process “notwithstanding obvious omissions.”
He said the next step in the process is the presentation of the comments on the draft environmental impact study/overseas environmental impact study or EIS/OEIS next year in November and the public hearings in Dec. 2014.
Aldan said he and his group will continue their community outreach and public education campaign and “enlist the engagement of external professional and community organizations with jurisdiction in affected areas of particular concern.”
He said they will be actively engaged in the draft EIS/OEIS process.