Crisostomo says federal review "inaccurate" - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Crisostomo says federal review "inaccurate"

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Earlier this week we broke the story about a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency end of the year program review slamming the Guam Environmental Protection Agency.  Now it seems the agency's administrator will have a lot of explaining to do as Senator Rory Respicio has called for an oversight hearing.  He's asked for her resignation in the past, and now with a scathing review of the way GEPA Administrator Lorilee Crisostomo's manages the agency, the policymaker wants some answers. 

"I'm very happy in a sense it's a bittersweet moment," Sen. Respicio told KUAM News. "I'm happy that USEPA came out with that scathing report because for all the time that I've challenged Ms. Crisostomo either publicly or privately; it just doesn't seem to sink in that she has a responsibility to ensure the protection of our natural resources and our environment."

KUAM was first to bring you the story about a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  Fiscal Year 2009 end of the year program review of Guam EPA.  The report made note of how the local agency for the first time in history failed to inform the community whether its beaches are safe to swim in, did not update its drinking water or water quality standards, did not maintain adequate oversight of development projects, and how the agency's staffing level increased by 20% in the past three years while at the same time revenues remained flat.

Aside from failing to manage its programs, the agency was cited for failing to manage its finances-to the point that federal funding could be at risk.  Although the USEPA provided recommendations to rectify the situation like building a closer relationship with the Bureau of Budget Management & Research to get its financial house in order and developing more appropriate fee structures.

Senator Respicio has a recommendation he feels will rectify the problem immediately, saying, "I've always publicly called for her to resign.  I'm not the governor of Guam, and I can't do that right now, but what I've asked her to do is step aside and find someone her agency the way it ought to be run."

Crisostomo, who just recently returned from off-island, says the federal review isn't completely accurate, citing for example USEPA's remarks about hiring  "They made  comment that we hired 20% since 2007.  When I walked in Guam EPA in February 2007 there were 56 employees under the consolidated grant budget as of today there are 56 employees." Crisostomo added that she finds the report bothersome because of the inaccurate accusations. She adds she will be meeting with the board next week during which she will present her response that will be forward to the feds.

In terms of her reaction to senator Respicio calling on her resignation, she claims he's been talking trash about her because of her agency's scrutiny of GRRP and their efforts to construct a waste to energy facility on Chamorro land trust commission property in Atantano, Santa Rita. It's a project Senator Respicio is supporting, as he says, "This is just another thing for the senator to come back and say step down, and no, I'm not worried about him."

The oversight hearing has been scheduled for May 21.

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