Feds say DEIS "environmentally unsatisfactory" - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Feds say DEIS "environmentally unsatisfactory"

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has echoed many of the same concerns as residents and elected officials after reviewing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Committee chair on the Military Buildup Senator Judi Guthertz said, "It will have an impact - the military's going to have to go back to the drawing board and have to think their approach to the buildup and their going to have to engage with the leaders of Guam on an equal basis, sit down with the leaders of Guam the representatives of the people of Guam and map out a plan that will work."

Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld said the federal agency rated the DEIS as "environmentally unsatisfactory".  The USEPA found that the project will result in unsatisfactory impacts to Guam's existing substandard drinking water and waste water infrastructure which could result in significant adverse public health impacts.

Committee chair on Utilities Senator Tom Ada says the findings are definitely beneficial, telling KUAM News, "The position has been taken and lends a lot of support to the positions that we have taken and will certainly work in our favor."

Although pleased with the feds comments, Speaker Judi Won Pat questions the Consolidated Commission on Utilities and local water experts, telling the Legislature that Guam has sufficient water supply to accommodate the population increase.  "That's the frustration is that just because people hang money over us doesn't mean we're going to jump already at the opportunity to just get them and ignore some of the glaring problems that we have or even the lack of information. So I just hope that they can retract some of those things and carefully move forward with the data," she said.

The feds also determined that the methodology used in the DEIS for evaluating the full extent of impacts to the coral reef habitat was inadequate noting that the DEIS fails to present an adequate plan for mitigating the unavoidable loss of 71 acres of coral reef habitat. Blumenfeld expressed EPA's concerns about the magnitude of the project impacts, saying they could further impede the island's efforts to comply with federal regulations.

This is precisely part of the reason that Republican Telo Taitague disagrees with the DEIS, saying, "I say stop, stop now this DEIS is flawed and I say go back to the drawing board from day one and redo the process again, so I'm really glad that we have it at a federal level that concurs."

In fact, they are so concerned that EPA believes the buildup should not proceed as proposed until all of their concerns related to drinking water, wastewater, coral reefs, the impacts of construction workers, air quality and waste management are first addressed before the final EIS and Record of Decision.

Senator Eddie Calvo said, "We look forward to further elaboration from the USEPA in regards to potential consequences and what those impacts will be to our natural resources on Guam."

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