Hundreds attend overview on Final EIS - News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Hundreds attend overview on Final EIS

by Nick Delgado

Guam - About this time next week, the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the military buildup will be released for the public to read in its entirety. Over the past two days representatives from the Department of Defense and the Obama Administration have been on Guam to give a brief summary of what to expect. 

The public was given two hours to ask questions and learn about the massive migration of troops that will change the island forever.  

"That issue has never been discussed, its just been papered over in the Draft EIS and I think they need to be up front with the people as to how is it that Guam was decided that we will receive the Marines," noted Hope Cristobal.  The former senator and Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice member was among the close to 200 people that listened intently to a federal panel discussing how decisions were made in the Final EIS.

It was standing room for some in the IT&E Lecture Hall at the University of Guam, as residents questioned decisions such as using property around one of America's most endangered historic sites like Pagat for a firing and training range for the U.S. Marines.

Ted Nelson owns property in the area, and he says he will remain optimistic, hoping the DoD will not just kick him off his land. "I just hope that those involved will come to us and visit us and say, "This is what we are going to do, this is what you'll be encountering in your property', but as of today there is nothing official as to what they are going to us," he proclaimed.

But Assistant Secretary of the Navy Jackalyne Pfanestiel says she is confident that DoD will successfully negotiate any land use, saying, "We have said and continue to say that eminent domain is the very last option that we will ever use, we don't think that it will be necessary. We are sure that it will not be necessary, we will work with the land owners, all things are possible, we would like to consider land sale, lease, or exchanges or other accommodations that will work."

Pfanesteil adds that their choice to defer a decision on a transient aircraft carrier berthing in Apra Harbor was made, as she says that process is more difficult. Cristobal feels the decision on Apra Harbor would become a dead issue.  "They are back tracking now or their soft peddling the issue of Apra Harbor and the destruction of the coral there because that's outright illegal," Cristobal said.

Although the federal panel assured participants that they will not be left in the dark regarding the Marines' relocation, residents feel that the meeting was a waste of time and that their concerns continue to fall on deaf ears.

Maria Auyong told KUAM News, "It was really demoralizing. I think a lot of people made an effort to come out here, they took time form their personal lives and their business lives and I think the responses they got from the CEQ and the Navy were inadequate."  Dolores Kogan added, "I can tell my conclusion about the buildup is that it's too many too fast, the decision was made in Washington. Colonialism is still alive and kicking."

"We need to retool and revisit some of our domestic policies because most of them are destroying democracy, ruining our economy," stated Tony Artero following the presentation.  "And we're experiencing nothing but chaos."

The Final EIS was filed with the U.S. environmental protection agency today and should be released to the public sometime next week.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: KUAM News taped today's presentation on the Final Environmental Impact Statement.  The event will be broadcast in its entirety this Saturday and Sunday on MCV Local 2 at 7pm on both nights.

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