03 Dec 2015
- By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor - firstname.lastname@example.org - Variety News Staff
THE Marine Corps Forces Pacific is reviewing over 28,000 comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement relating to the proposed construction of military training facilities on Pagan and Tinian, according to MARFORPAC Executive Director Craig B. Whelden.
In his Dec. 1 response to Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas’s letter, Whelden said his team “will also review and assess the comments provided in your letter.”
He said these evaluations will help shape the scope of the supplemental analysis and provide a basis for future discussions with the CNMI government and the municipal leadership.
He said he will be on Saipan in early February to meet with the governor and brief him “on the way forward with the supplemental” report to the draft EIS.
He told San Nicolas that he is pleased with the mayor’s support for continuing dialogues between the CNMI and the Department of the Navy regarding the CNMI Joint Military Training or CJMT DEIS.
“I am confident that following the National Environmental Protection Act process, continuing to listen to community concerns and engaging in constructive dialogue will ultimately result in a better EIS,” Whelden said.
He acknowledged the mayor’s request to establish a civilian-military advisory council in accordance with the provisions of the technical agreements.
He noted, as the mayor has done, the numerous issues that can be discussed among the CNMI central government, the local governments of Tinian and Pagan, local developers, and the military that can contribute to the economic growth of the CNMI and the Municipality of Tinian.
If Gov. Eloy S. Inos were to convene this civilian-military council, Whelden said he would be supportive of Marine Corps or other Department of Defense participation “to the extent that it is consistent with federal regulations concerning pre-decisional [National Environmental Protection Act] activities or other governing regulations.”
Whelden said he appreciated that the mayor has taken the time and effort to consider how the military and Tinian can work together.
“While it is still early in the process, I look forward to future discussions to help develop one community working and living cooperatively on Tinian as we proceed with the supplement to the DEIS,” Whelden said.
Last month, Mayor San Nicolas sent Whelden a letter about a cooperative plan relating to the proposed military training facilities on Tinian.
“History has taught all of us in the Marianas that land issues never just go away,” he wrote Whelden pointing out a number of issues in the CJMT tied to the land and land leases which San Nicolas said might have to be litigated unless resolved by mutual agreement.
He said he preferred a more proactive approach and is willing to meet with Whelden to talk about “Tinian red-lines.”
These include the mayor’s opposition to the proposed heavy artillery range and the potential dredging of the Unai Chulu where DoD is planning to set up a landing area for amphibious assault vehicles.
The mayor also asked Whelden to support Tinian’s inclusion in the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park system.