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NEWS | July 23, 2010

Assistant SECNAV Addresses Guam Military Build-up

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Peter Lewis Joint Region Marianas

The assistant secretary of the Navy, Installations and Environment, addressed questions from the media concerning the final environmental impact statement (FEIS), during a press conference at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa in Tumon, Guam, July 22.

Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, ASN EI&E, discussed the FEIS, which will be filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency July 23. 

The FEIS will provide guidance for the upcoming military build-up on the island of Guam. 

The three major actions covered by the project include relocating Marines from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam; creating a berth in Apra Harbor for visiting aircraft carriers; and strategically basing an Army air and missile defense task force in Guam.

Pfannenstiel said that the federal government is determined to continue forward on the project, but only at a pace that will be in the best interest of the island.

"We have committed that we won't move the construction pace, or move the relocation pace faster than the infrastructure on Guam can handle," said Pfannenstiel.

Nancy H. Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, added that the U.S. government wants the build-up to benefit everyone on Guam, including both military personnel and local residents.

"We believe that the work that the military does here on Guam should benefit the people of Guam," said Sutley. "We are committed to striking a path forward that is good for Guam, the military and the nation."

One of the most contentious issues with the original draft of the environmental impact statement was the plan to create a firing range in Pagat, which contains remains of a prehistoric village. Pfannenstiel told reporters that the military and government intend to ensure that island residents will continue to have access to the area.

"We're making a commitment that there will continue to be access to Pagat and that Pagat will not be in any way negatively affected by the range being there," said Pfannenstiel. "We will work with the people of Guam to find a resolution to access to Pagat."

Anthony M. Babauta, assistant secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas, and a native son of Guam, said that he is confident that the build-up will be successful and that the people of Guam will benefit greatly.

"I think [Guam is] clearly in good hands because there is ongoing collaboration between the federal government and the local government," said Babauta. "You have an administration that is committed to ensure that concerns that have been raised by Guam are addressed and continue to be addressed in the years to come." 

For more information on the FEIS, visit http://www.guambuildupeis.us/.