Guam – The Governor’s Director of Policy Arthur Clark met with legislative leadership Wednesday over the administrations stance on the Programmatic Agreement which governs the way artifacts and historical sites are treated during the military buildup.
Senator Rory Respicio and Judi Guthertz walked out of the meeting with Governor Calvo’s Director of Policy because they didn’t like what they were hearing that the administration is requesting an extention to a deadline for the programmatic agreement that may be non-existent. “The problem I have is I don’t recognize or acknowledge arbitrary deadlines set by the United States military that we are forced to respond to and I think it’s very unfair for the military to say that they want a response from us by the 14th of January or they will proceed,” said Senator Guthertz.
This most recent deadline is one of many deadlines DOD has tried to impose on GovGuam and Clark is aware of this. “Every time a deadline moves you always have to assume that the next deadline is gonna be the hard deadline,” said Clark.
However the National Historic Preservation Act which governs the programmatic agreement doesn’t even require a programmatic agreement. The programmatic agreement just makes things easier for DOD because they can then include a whole list of projects under one agreement. Without the agreement DOD still has to follow the guidelines of the National Historic Preservation Act and they still have to mitigate for projects they just have to do it one project at a time. “That in and of itself provides a concern because the purpose of the programmatic agreement is to streamline you might have a dozen projects for example where there is a early determination that there is no archaeological impact or historical impact.”
The programmatic agreement contains a whole section of projects that DOD has deemed as having no archaeological or historical significance even though the Guam State Historic Preservation Officer has not validated these claims. This is one major reason why Guam SHPO Lynda Aguon has refused to sign off on the agreement because it would mean that Guam’s Historic Preservation Officer agrees that these sites have no archeological sites and no historical significance. Clark is also concerned that without a programmatic agreement the military will not give Guam funding for a cultural center and Museum however law makers have pointed out that they have already identified funding for a cultural center and museum and in fact it is already public law 30-228.
Lawmakers want the governor to make a stance and not sign off on the programmatic agreement because it includes in it the plans for the Pagat firing range complex. In fact the legislative leadership has been suggesting that GovGuam draft their own version of the programmatic agreement for DOD to sign. “That’s their suggestion I saw it on the news last night I don’t know if it’s a novel suggestion as far as programmatic agreements are concerned but it’s something I’m gonna discuss further with the governor.”
Clark says the programmatic agreement is under technical review by the advisory council and by Guam State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon. He says they governor won’t be forced into signing off on the agreement until they’ve had proper time to review it.