GovGuam submits feedback on DEIS - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GovGuam submits feedback on DEIS

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - A compilation of the Government of Guam's comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was submitted to the Joint Guam Program Office today. Included in the more than 200 pages of comments were various agencies concerns with portions of the DEIS as well as recommendations as the buildup proceeds.

The Department of Defense shouldn't force so much so quickly on GovGuam when it comes to the Marines' relocation from Okinawa to the territory.  That was just one of several sentiments expressed by the governor as he submitted the public sector's comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement today.  

Aside from seeking an extension for the buildup, saying it's not feasible to complete what is planned in the time frame prescribed, Governor Felix Camacho stressed that the military must modify plans for proposed firing ranges in Yigo, as Camacho says the needs of the community must be better accommodated.  A recommendation was also made to use current lands at the U.S. Naval Magazine in Sumay, Andersen Air Force Base, and/or Tinian.  

Many concerns also centered around proposed dredging at Polaris Point. Governor camacho stressed that such action will not only remove pacific coral indigenous to Guam, but will compromise the ocean ecosystem in and around Apra Harbor.  The government has recommended the use of the fuel pier in Apra Harbor as an alternative for a carrier strike force transient berthing.

GovGuam agencies also expressed similar concerns about ensuring that federal funding be provided to build the infrastructure needed to accommodate development planned by the DoD.  The Guam Waterworks Authority, for example, shared a number of challenges the agency will face with the buildup and the added impacts of the military being a customer of GWA.

The Department of Education also noted that funding should be made available to upgrade existing educational infrastructure. As well, DOE has asked for $134 million from DoD to build and operate nine new schools to accommodate the anticipated student enrollment that will come with the buildup.  The government also contends that the Department of Defense should be tasked to contribute to the construction and development of the Layon landfill

While many government officials were disappointed with the DEIS's lack of depth in the areas of healthcare, education and public safety, the Department of Chamorro Affairs is seeking the DoD's acknowledgement of the cultural impacts the buildup will bring, as well.  They have recommended that Pagat Village be taken out of the footprint of the Marines' relocation and believe the military restricting access is not beneficial to the public.  Additionally, they question how the military would be able to build an access road on Mount Lamlam, a national natural landmark.

Government officials have recommended that JGPO employ sufficient mitigation at the outset of the buildup to avoid significant impacts.  They've also stressed the need for federal and local governments and the community to work together.

While the public comment period officially ends tomorrow afternoon, JGPO is expected to review all of the comments submitted by the public and then develop the final EIS.  The final record of decision is expected by late summer.

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