Bordallo meeting with leaders about military buildup - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Bordallo meeting with leaders about military buildup

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - After weeks of discussion on HR4402, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo is on island, meeting with local leaders and several stakeholders not just her controversial measure, but other issues regarding the buildup.

Since it introduced a month ago by Bordallo, HR4402 has found itself in a web of controversy from Ritidian landowners to local lawmakers. Today Bordallo says HR4402 is necessary and is important to the buildup. "Would the buildup still move forward without putting HR4402 into the NDAA? It will be delayed, it will be delayed and there's a good chance of it being cancelled completely and maybe going elsewhere which would be very unfortunate," she said, also adding that the step is necessary.

After weeks of teleconferences with island leaders and Ritidian landowners, Bordallo is finally back on island engaging in a listening tour just ahead of this weekend's SEIS public meetings. Today she met with senators from both sides of the aisle to discuss issues with the buildup and HR4402. "We just came to meet with the congresswoman that during our teleconference, she asked that she wanted to meet with all of us, we called to confirm the time and here we are today and she's giving us up to date briefings of what's going on in Washington," she explained.

Like the governor and the Mayors Council of Guam, the Republicans have stated they are in support of HR4402. Senator Chris Duenas said, "There was an acknowledgement that it's a complete effort, the governor met with the families, the families met with the congresswoman and we're open to meet with them anytime, solutions are being put on the table to solve all angles of difficulties moving forward so I think what we're showing is everyone is continuing to dialogue and this process is fully in place."

He further stresses that despite the criticism, the NEPA process is in full effect with the HR4402, in fact he says it fully enhances it. "Because these things run parallel to each other," he said.

And while the GOP meeting was behind closed doors, the Democrats on the other hand met with the congresswoman in an open setting at the Public Hearing Room televised on the Legislature's Channel. Speaker Judi Won Pat says there's been a lot of pressure put on the legislature to pass a resolution in support of HR4402 that has not only caused a division in our community but has some questioning the leadership of our island. "I have been hesitant to support HR4402 primarily because the community was not properly informed or consulted on this bill and preempted the release of the Draft SEIS and continues to hinder the NEPA process," she said.

She says instead of focusing on the SEIS, our community has been responding to HR4402 which she says only deals with a small section of the overall scope of the impacts described. She further questioned Bordallo on HR4402 saying its vague and poses even more questions from whether it legalizes the further endangerment of our native species. "It is obvious that a surface danger zone would not be compatible with the efforts of a wildlife refuge and more needs to be done to protect this valuable piece of property and the important historical, natural and cultural resources it contains," she said.

Senator Ben Pangelinan says he's literally had perfect attendance at all of Bordallo's town meetings and has submitted documents, testimony and statements on the buildup including on HR4402. He says its best HR4402 move through the proper process however it appears to truncate the process for the Department of Defense, the Navy and the Marines. "So now they are being offered a back door to the process that they've all agreed to which is to adhere to NEPA, and to adhere to the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 and in truncating that process, it truncates the rights of the people of Guam to voice their opinion so it would matter," he said.

Bordallo meanwhile says with this weekend's SEIS meeting, she's open to discussing the challenges with HR4402. "We have to work at it diplomatically and I'm sure we can work out, knowing Guam and way our people are we can talk it over, work it out and hopefully it can come out already," he said.

Bordallo says in addition to the governor and the mayors, the Guam Chamber of Commerce Armed Services Committee have expressed its support on the measure. "There is a lot of misconceptions just like there are with most everything - the access and there's many I'd be too long to go into everything, but I think once we have these hearings, and then the military folks and JGPO will be here and they'll be here to clear up these concerns," he said.

As for whether HR4402 is being rushed, Bordallo says it's a piece of legislation that would actually hurry up the process especially as the buildup has been in the talks for nearly 12 years now. Bordallo says she will be meeting with the mayors for lunch on Friday.

And while the Republicans noted during this morning's meeting with Bordallo that they welcomed the Democrats to call a public hearing with Bordallo to openly discuss the matter with the community, Senator Tony Ada says he is puzzled and curious as to why certain senators, mainly the GOP were not informed of this afternoon's meeting at the Public Hearing Room that was televised on the Guam Legislature's Channel. We should note KUAM was neither informed of the Democrats meetings.
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