DEIS public comment period now closed - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DEIS public comment period now closed

by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - Residents had until 3 o'clock today to submit their final comments for the 11,000-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement via the Internet. With concerns swarming among residents and GovGuam officials about whether their comments will in fact be addressed in the final EIS, all eyes are now on the next steps in the EIS process and how the Department of Defense will incorporate the comments made.

Residents had until this afternoon to submit their final comments about the massive document that has led to a number of heated town halls and boisterous public hearings with concerns ranging from land condemnation to dredging and widely supported request for an extension beyond the four-year timeline slated for  the largest buildup in the island's history.

"Every comment is important," said JGPO PIO Maj. Neil Ruggerio.  "We will sit down and review every single comment we received and go from there. All those comments will be incorporated into Vol. 10 of the EIS and from there the final EIS gets published."  Ruggiero says JGPO expects the final version of the EIS to be available for a 30-day "review" period at some point this summer.

In the meantime, We Are Guahan Coalition member Gen Won Pat-Borja says she still has concerns, noting, "We are hoping that they do put out the Draft EIS in its entirety in accessible formats for all people of Guahan because we do believe that everyone should have access to this information because it is going to be such a major change in our island."

Won Pat argues federal law requires documents such as the DEIS be available in Braille and audio; she went so far as notifying the coalition's Facebook group and e-mail list yesterday requesting the comment deadline be extended .

Major Rugierro maintains his office never received this request, saying, "I think obviously there are some people anti-buildup/pro-buildup and those in the middle, but I think by and large JGPO, my office and the Department of the Navy we take every comment seriously and think we've done a very good job in listening to the public and gathering information and I'm sure that there will be things re-worked in the plan."

In the meantime, the Department of Labor's One-Stop Career Center's Disability Program Navigator Greg Calvo says they have services available that could have assisted anyone with a disability wanting to read the DEIS, however they never received any requests for help.  The record of decision is expected by the end of summer.

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