by Sabrina Salas Matanane
Guam - The House Committee on Rules has cleared the way for an amended version of HR4402 to be discussed this week for possible inclusion in the proposed FY15 National Defense Authorization Act. HR4402 was introduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo in anticipation that Northwest Field will be the military's selected site for a Live Fire Training Range Complex for the marine’s relocation from Okinawa to Guam. HR4402 would implement a Surface Danger Zone at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife Refuge at Ritidian when the range is in operation. Bordallo along with Joint Guam Program Office Director Joe Ludovici have both said that should HR4402 not be included in the FY15 NDAA the miltiary buildup will be delayed. Bordallo has also gone on record that there's the possibility that the marines could go elsewhere if HR4402 is not included in the FY15 NDAA (HR4435).
According to Bordallo’s office the amended version of H.R. 4402 the amended version is similar to the compromise language that was developed between Navy and FWS lawyers. It authorizes the Department of the Navy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to enter into an agreement for the placement of a surface danger zone above the Guam National Wildlife Refuge. The bill requires for the agreement to include measures to maintain the purposes of the Wildlife Refuge. It will also require the Navy to pay for impacts of placing an SDZ over the Wildlife Refuge, including:Ø
Relocating facilities of the Wildlife Refuge impacted by the SDZØ
Mitigation for impacts to wildlife speciesØ
Use of DoD personnel for conservation activities normally performed by FWS.
"I included H.R. 4402 as an amendment to the NDAA to address a possible legal impediment of placing an SDZ over the Wildlife Refuge, and its consideration at this time does not inhibit the NEPA process. While a final decision to place the live–fire training range at Northwest Field has not been made, H.R. 4402 is needed to keep the Navy and Fish and Wildlife negotiating on how to best mitigate any impacts the SDZ may have on the Wildlife Refuge, should the Navy move forward with this location. I believe that the revised language ensures that we are able to keep the buildup moving forward," commented Bordallo.
The full House of Representatives is expected to complete consideration of H.R. 4435 by the end of the week. If passed by the House, the bill will then be reconciled with the Senate's version of the NDAA during a Conference Committee later this year.