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Not all EIS comments included as promised

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - Already there's a feeling by many in the community that their comments regarding the military buildup were ignored in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.  But some, it seems, were just left out altogether.      

Deputy director of the Guam Buildup Office Jason Tedtaotao says the Department of Chamorro Affairs made a disturbing discovery when reviewing the comment portion of the Final EIS.  He explained, "When the document was issued earlier this month they could not find their comments, and between Paul Shintaku and I we did our review of the document because its supposed to be located in the local agency section.  We could not find it; we looked at the electronic version, we could not find it."      

Tedtaotao say they immediately contacted Rande Sablan, the environmental specialist at the Joint Guam Program Office.  "They did make that admission that the DCA comments were not included and they advised our office that they would be included and made available to Secretary of the Navy Jaclyn Pfannenstiel prior to the Record of Decision being issued," he said.

JGPO Executive Director David Bice sent a letter of apology to the Department of Chamorro Affairs in which he states that it was an error in software used to compile the comments that was to blame for the omission. A reference to the mistake is made on the Guam Buildup EIS web site, which states, "A letter from the Department of Chamorro Affairs and a letter from Traditions About Seafaring Islands (TASI) were inadvertently omitted from the Final EIS. Both of these letters were received during the comment period on the Draft EIS. No new issues were identified in either letter that would have resulted in additional changes to the Final EIS."

Meanwhile, JGPO Spokesperson Major Neil Ruggiero says the letters will be considered prior to the issuance of the Record of Decision.  Tedtaotao told KUAM News that he's concerned about other agencies whose comments were possibly left out.

In fact, Maria Cenzon, the Judiciary of Guam's director of policy, planning and community relations, says their comments where also missing from the Final EIS.  "We were told that all the information would be included, so wanting to make sure all of our concerns were addressed we reviewed the document.  But in fact, the information was still exactly the same as in the Draft EIS, so that what precipitated us to write the letter."

Cenzon say the comments addressed incorrect information on the number of judicial officers sitting on the bench and the number that would be needed after the buildup.  "We identified that we would need and additional four judges by 2014, and they still only showed the original as two judges," she stated.

Administrator of the courts Perry Taitano sent a letter to Bice stating the Guam Judiciary was dismayed that the needs of the island's court system were not incorporated into the document.  Cenzon says they have not yet gotten a reply to the letter sent on August 18.  she said, "I suppose we are cautiously optimistic that this time our comments will be incorporated into the final decision."

In regards to the letter to Bice by the Judiciary, Major Ruggiero told KUAM News that they have received the comments and will make corrections in the Record of Decision.

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