Navy Under-Secretary Work: DoD Determined to “Continue to Listen to the Government and People of Guam”

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Guam – Joint Region Marianas has released the following statement from Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work reviewing yesterday’s [Thursday’s] meeting on Guam with the Governor and legislative leaders.

Work led a delegation that included Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations, and the Environment) Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, Assistant Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps (Installations and Logistics) Brig. Gen. Robert Ruark, and representing the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and the Environment) Pete Potochney.

The delegation met with Gov. Eddie Calvo and Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio yesterday [Thursday January 20th] and with a majority of the Guam Legislature to discuss outstanding issues related to the planned relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

After the meetings, Work released the following statement:

“Today, Jan. 20, my colleagues and I engaged in two frank, informative, and fruitful discussions—first with the Governor and Lieutenant Governor and then with the Guam Legislature. These discussions centered on how the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Government of Guam will work together to address remaining questions and concerns about the Guam build-up and to set the stage for future negotiations over issues that still separate DoD and the Government of Guam. During these discussions, I outlined four pillars that will shape the strategy going forward.  These four pillars were developed over the past year after listening carefully to the concerns of both the Government and people of Guam.  They are:

* One Guam. DoD recognizes the added strain that additional Marines and their family members will place on Guam’s infrastructure. We are committed to improving the quality of life for both the proud people who call Guam their home and the military personnel based on the island. Improvements in the quality of life will result from direct investments in projects to improve and upgrade Guam infrastructure. These projects will reflect a combination of requests by the Government of Guam and those identified by the environmental impact study, performed by DoD to study the effects of the build-up. These projects include upgrades to the commercial port, roads, and water, waste water, and electric utilities; DoD advocacy of additional federal investment in Guam’s socio-economic needs, including, a world class cultural artifacts depository, mental health clinic, and school buses; and tax revenues generated by the billions of dollars in projects associated with the build-up.

* Green Guam. DoD understands and supports the great emphasis the people of Guam place on protecting the island’s environmental treasures. We have projects underway with the Guam Power Authority, Guam Waterworks Authority, University of Guam, Department of Energy and other federal agencies to bring public and private funds to Guam for sustainable projects.  We will work with the University of Guam’s Center for Island Sustainability to develop and secure funding for green programs. In addition, DoD is committed to developing the most energy efficient infrastructure possible, with a goal of converting all DoD bases on Guam into “net zero” energy users over time, meaning the bases will contribute as much energy into the Guam energy grid as they consume.

* Twenty-Four/Seven unimpeded access to the Chamorro cultural and historical site at Pagat Village and Pagat Cave in the area below the cliff line to the east of Route 15. The conceptual plans contained in the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the training ranges in this area would have required DoD to gain a controlling interest over the area and to exclude both military and civilians from this area while some of the live fire ranges were being used. Over the past year, the people of Guam made it clear that our plan to provide access to the area only during times when the ranges were not active was unacceptable, and had to be changed, and that Pagat was not for sale under any circumstances.  We therefore changed our plans and developed options so that access to Pagat Village and the cave site below the cliff line will remain as it is today—accessible at all times.

* ”Net negative” or “net minus” DoD footprint. Over the past year, another clear message we received is that the people of Guam do not want the footprint of land controlled by the Federal Government to be any larger after the military build-up is over.  In direct response to their concerns, we now plan not only to limit further growth, but to better utilize the land we now control in order to return underutilized land to the Government of Guam. By doing so, the overall goal of DoD is to have a smaller footprint than it is now. Our actions in this regard will require us to make additional investments to realign our operations from these underutilized areas.

We hope these four pillars demonstrate our determination to continue to listen to the Government and people of Guam, and to accommodate their concerns.  Our Draft EIS was widely criticized by the Government and people of Guam. However, the Final EIS is substantially different, having been shaped by the thousands of comments from the people of Guam and the hundreds of recommendations from our inter-agency partners.  It resolves issues regarding the island’s water and waste water resources, committing to more than $1 billion in improvements that will benefit all who live on the island. It slows down the planned buildup to reduce the influx of workers onto the island. It adopts a new adaptive management process that prevents the buildup from overwhelming the island’s natural resources. It defers the final selection of the planned carrier pier pending further environmental studies. As a result of these changes, DoD issued the Final EIS successfully resolving all objections from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, and the Fish and Wildfire Service, and forms the basis for further productive negotiations with the Government of Guam.

Similarly, in response to persistent calls for an organization which can answer questions about the planned buildup once we move from planning to construction, we formed the Civil-Military Coordination Council, or CMCC. The CMCC’s first meeting was held in October 2010, where the Government of Guam and DoD agreed on CMCC membership. The Council is now drafting their operating charter, and will be ready to perform their duties once we shift to detailed project planning and building.

I hope these actions, along with our commitment to ensuring 24/7 access to Pagat Village and to a smaller land footprint once the buildup is over, provide concrete evidence that DoD is indeed listening to the concerns of the Government and people of Guam, and working hard to address them.  As my discussions with the Guam Legislature made clear, we have not yet addressed every concern, but we hope to do so during the coming months.  

In closing, I would like to personally thank Gov. Calvo, Lt. Gov. Tenorio, Speaker Won Pat and the members of the Guam Legislature for their forthright and pointed comments today. I will take back what I heard and work even harder to resolve any remaining issues. We believe the buildup on Guam will benefit the island and its people, and are anxious to work with the Government of Guam to define the next steps forward.”

Under Secretary of the Navy, The Honorable Robert Work