Resolution calling for ‘pause’ in military construction placed on voting file

Senator Regine Biscoe-Lee, a Democrat, is chairperson of the Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs. She says she hopes the next Congressman addresses Guam's relationship with the military, environmental issues and the island's political status. (PNC file photo)

Resolution No. 164-35 (COR), which calls for a “pause” in military construction at Northwest Field, has been placed on the voting file.

Sen. Regine Biscoe-Lee, who chairs the rules committee and the federal and foreign affairs committee, is in favor of the resolution, saying it is clear the planned firing range is not in the best interest of the people.

“The way forward will be different for many of us here. I believe there may be a right way, a fair way to bring Marines to Guam. But the firing range being built at Taila’lo is not right and is not fair,” the senator said.

The resolution urges the support of the governor to call for a pause to such activities related to the construction of the military Live-Fire Training Range Complex at Northwest Field/Taila’lo to ensure the protection of historic and cultural resources in the area.

During session yesterday, the resolution was updated through amendments that connected concerns about climate change and biodiversity to the buildup activities above the Ritidian Wildlife Refuge.

For some senators, the inclusion was an important contextual point to make.

Sen. Kelly Marsh (Taitano) said: “Climate change is a real occurrence; it’s a real impact for us in the Pacific. Many of our neighboring Pacific islands, and the islanders living on them, are actively fighting it. They are losing, their island, and their way of life that goes along with it, that cannot really be replicated anywhere else. Their culture, their way of life, developed in connection with that land. It is that special — inseparable bond.”

Sen. Therese Terlaje also said it is very important to point out that when all the studies were done for the relocation of the marines to Guam, climate change was not mentioned in those studies.

“That was not part of what they discussed. They did not make a plan for us as to how Guam was supposed to survive climate change, or any of the other islands in our region. They are telling us to combat climate change, ‘plant trees,’ and so we go and we try planting trees in all other areas while we allow the destruction of not just hundreds of acres, but over a thousand acres of limestone forest that is habitat. It is a significant amount; there is no other project on Guam that is this large in scale,” Terlaje said.

Session resumes this afternoon at 4 p.m. during which senators are expected to vote on Resolution 164 as well as Bill 128 (relative to extending the Guam Registered Apprenticeship Program), Bill 136 (relative to raising the minimum wage), and Bill 155 (relative to creating a Youth Mental Health First Aid program).