Guam – After giving the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the military buildup the lowest rating possible the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has now given the Final EIS a passing grade.
The USEPA has labeled the Final EIS as adequate as long as DOD adheres to several things it has promised to do in order to lessen the environmental impacts. In a letter from U.S. EPA regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Jackalyne Pfannenstiel the U.S. EPA basically says that the Final EIS addresses the major concerns the U.S. EPA had with the Draft E.I.S. They had two major concerns. First was the impacts to Guam’s wastewater and drinking water systems. To prevent these problems these systems need major upgrades which are estimated to cost nearly $1.3 billion dollars. In the Final EIS DOD says that Japan will fund $600 million of this while they work to identify the remaining funding. Then there is the issue with the dredging of Apra harbor for the berthing of a nuclear aircraft carrier. DOD has taken this completely out of the FEIS for now until they can conduct more studies on the coral there. We asked Vice-Speaker BJ Cruz if he thought the U.S. EPA will stay on top of DOD to ensure that all of their mitigation plans happen. “I hope so but I really don’t think so I don’t know what your going to do once the ROD is announced next week and they start bringing people in how are they going to deal with the fact that the $1.3 billion dollars is not in hand and that construction hasn’t been started,” said Cruz.
Another mitigation plan DOD has come up with is called Adaptive Program Management. Basically it means the military will manage construction and the arrival of military personnel to ensure that the buildup doesn’t happen faster than Guam’s infrastructure can handle. Cruz says this will be hard to do. “Well once it gets rolling whose going to stop the construction if there are too many people here and the water/waste-water system up north isn’t taking care of the needs of the workers and it starts polluting down into the water lens? Whose gonna stop it at that point?” asked Cruz.
If DOD follows the mitigation plans they have proposed Blumenfeld says the Final EIS becomes environmentally satisfactory that is the highest grade possible. “So they went from an “F” their now at “D” they passed but they’re not at “C” and their not at “B” and their definitely not at “A” yet. At least U.S. EPA was able to do that. I’m more dissatisfied and disappointed with CEQ(Council on Environmental Quality) for saying and announcing that they are satisfied with what DOD had done even before US EPA had issued their release,” said Cruz.
The US EPA letter also states that they will remain committed to working with DOD, GovGuam and other federal agencies to ensure the environmental acceptability of the military buildup.