Ukudu Workforce Village Controversy Escalates Into Dispute Over Local vs. Federal Power


Guam – The dispute over a questioned permit issued by DPW to Younex for the Ukudu Workforce Village has prompted accusations from the Guam Attorney General that the “U.S. EPA is seeking to control the local building permit application process on Guam.”

The accusation is the latest response filed in District Court in an escalating war-of-words between the Guam Attorney General and the U.S. EPA over Federal versus Guam’s power and authority over the development process on island.

Read the AG response to U.S. EPA filed Monday in District Court           

Yesterday, [Monday], Assistant AG Kathy Fokas filed her reply to the U.S. EPA’s request for court orders and a hearing over the Ukudu controversy. Fokas writes that the U.S. EPA’s requests are “clearly beyond its authority and against the fundamental principals of federalism.”

Fokas argues that U.S. EPA’s attempts to “preempt Guam’s local rights to regulate its building permit application process … violates the 10th Amendments Constitutional protection of ‘state sovereignty’ …  and the protection against the tyranny principle.”

Among her points:

*U.S. EPA’s requests to the Court to “closely monitor permitting decisions by DPW, GWA and Guam EPA for both the Younex project and any other project … is over-broad, improper and beyond U.S. EPA’s authority.”

*”It is improper and U.S. EPA does not have authority to question the timing and involvement of GWA and GEPA in the local building permitting process.”

* “U.S. EPA is inviting the court to federalize local land use planning and building permit processes without sufficient legal basis and in effect, requesting to be treated as a receiver; a drastic remedy for a “wrong” that has not even been proven.”

* U.S. EPA is asking that the court oversee and micromanage a purely local regulatory process.”

The Younex project will eventually house more than 15,000 H-2 workers and the U.S. EPA fears the village will overwhelm the Northern Wastewater

Treatment Plant’s [NWWTP] ability to handle the estimated 1-million gallons a day of sewage from the village. U.S. EPA wants to ensure that no water or sewer hook-ups are permitted until the NWWTP has been upgraded to handle the load.

GWA and DPW have both repeatedly made it clear that NO permits will be issued until the infrastructure is in place to assure adequate handling of the water and sewer needs of the Workforce Village.

Monday’s blast from Assistant Attorney General Fokas follows a strongly worded response from the U.S. EPA filed last month.

In that filing,  Justice Department Attorney Robert Mullaney, representing the U.S. EPA, threatened an injunction against the Younex Workforce Village and asked the Guam District Court to “closely monitor all building permit applications on Guam that may impact Guam Waterworks Authority’s water supply or wastewater treatment capacity,” and they also asked the Court to order that U.S. EPA and Guam EPA be provided with “concurrent copies of all such permits.”

Read DoJ’s response filed September 25th     

The U.S. EPA asked the Court to schedule a hearing on the issues it raised.

Fokas asked the District Court to deny the U.S. EPA’s request “to schedule a hearing … on purley local matters regarding a building permit which has not yet been issued and the application for which is currently being reviewed by the relevant local agencies.”





* U.S. EPA is asking that the court oversee and micomange a purley local regualtory process.”