Defense act passes with provision for Ritiian plans - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Defense act passes with provision for Ritiian plans

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Despite objections of Ritidian landowners and hundreds of others in the community, the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act was passed today and includes a provision to declare a surface danger zone over the National Wildlife Refuge.

The House of Representatives passed HR4435 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. As we reported Thursday, the House approved the inclusion of Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo's controversial HR4402 as an amendment.  Her amendment would allow the military to declare a surface danger zone over the US Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge at Ritidian. The amendment would also require the Navy to pay for the relocation and replacement facility should the Wildlife Refuge be relocated. The SDZ is in anticipation of Northwest Field possibly being selected as the location for a live fire training range complex for the Marines relocation from Okinawa to Guam. More than 1,000 island residents signed a petition against the SDZ which was submitted to military leaders during recent public hearings on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement of the military buildup.

One of those disappointed with Bordallo's actions is Speaker Judi Won Pat who on Thursday she told KUAM HR4402 does not address the concerns of original landowners and further compromises their ability to ever get their lands returned.

Adelup on the other hand is in support of HR4402, as Acting Governor Ray Tenorio said, "Governor Calvo and of course myself are in agreement with the congresswoman with respect to her support of making sure we keep the debate open and looking at how to be able to move the military buildup forward for the growth and the jobs and the economic prosperity of our people and our island while also being able to balance the discussion as it deals with the environment and making sure that we're not intruding. But we need to have a surface danger zone designation. It originally started in different locations - in Pagat included. They wanted to put it inside the base, they put it inside the base. And if Senator Ben Pangelinan and Speaker Won Pat don't want the buildup then they can join the minority but the representatives of the people of Guam should be representing the interests of the majority of the island, not the minority of the island."

Aside from HR4402 several other provisions are included in the FY15 NDAA that Bordallo's requested and supported: they include $128 million in military construction funds for Guam, including $51 million to support steps to establish a fully capable Marine air-ground task force on Guam; as well as language to eliminate current restrictions on obligation and expenditure of government of Japan and certain US military construction funds for projects related to the realignment of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

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