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White House officials on island

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by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - President Barack Obama's right hand woman when it comes to environmental policy is on island, Nancy Sutley is the chairperson of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "We are the overseers of the environmental impact process and are committed to doing everything we can at the CEQ to getting an environmental impact statement that adequately describes the potential impacts," she said.

She is on island this week meeting with lawmakers and stakeholders like the Guam EPA, GWA, the CCU, the Navy, the governor and village mayors. Sutley will be touring sites that will be dramatically impacted by the military buildup. Her visit comes on the heels of the USEPA calling the Draft EIS on the buildup "environmentally unsatisfactory".

She said, "At the moment because we do have a formal dispute resolution role, I wouldn't offer an opinion of whether we agree or disagree, we are staying neutral but the reason we are here is to make sure we have a common base of knowledge to work off of," she said.

At a press conference at UOG WERI, Sutley was joined by DOI assistant secretary for insular areas Tony Babauta and USEPA's Jarred Blumenfeld, USDA's deputy undersecretary of rural development Victor Vasquez, Lieutenant General Ken Stalder, and commanding general of the Marine Forces Pacific.  And although surrounded by a delegation of representatives from the federal government Sutley couldn't confirm whether any federal dollars would be committed to the buildup effort just yet.

"The first thing we have to do is make sure we all understand what the needs are based on the impacts of the build up and then what you see here is a commitment from the federal family," she said.

Tomorrow Sutley will meet with the navy for a helicopter tour of the island, meet with lawmakers, and have lunch at the governor's house to formulate a more comprehensive view of the issues affecting the people of Guam and the island we call home.

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