Friday, November 20, 2009

Community Response to the DEIS

Whether or not you support the military buildup which will hit Guam over the next few years, like one of those catastrophes from the film 2012, you should be concerned about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that is being released on Nov. 20th.

Anytime the Federal Government (including the military) plans a large project, they are required to do an EIS in order to assess the impacts and damages that the project might have on the surrounding environments or communities. The EIS process is meant to provide those who will be affecting with a report on what is going to happen to them should the project proceed and be completed. The community is given a short window where they are allowed to respond to the EIS, and regulatory agencies are given the power to suggest alternative plans or recommend that parts of the project, or the entire project as a whole should not be allowed to proceed.

For Guam's military buildup EIS, a number of massive projects are being combined into a single report, which will be somewhere around 8,000 pages long. 4,000 pages for the report and 4,000 pages of appendices. The people of Guam are being given 90 days to read and respond to this report and then submit their comments or concerns.

While the amount of time that is being given itself sounds unreasonable, that isn't the worst part of this process. The problem with the EIS is that it provides the appearance of democracy, or the spectacle of people commenting and taking part in public planning or the governing of their resources, when in truth, no such power exists. The 90 days and the public comment period is meant to be a public relations tactic more than anything else. If 10,000 people submited comments saying that there should be no military buildup to Guam, it would most likely have no effect on the buildup. Although we are meant to believe that this is how it works, in truth that sort of power doesn't exist here. The appearance of it is what matters, that we are supposed to be sated or satisfied and happy with the appearance of power, rather than the real thing.

In order to give voice to the concerns that people are having, both over the buildup and over the release of the DEIS, there will be a demonstration on Friday, November 20th at the ITC Intersection from 4 - 7 pm. The demonstration is being organized by the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice. Check out the press release below for more details. And remember if you're a student in one of my classes at UOG, you can get extra credit by attending!

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For Immediate Release
from the Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice
November 18, 2009

EIS Process Worthy of Protest
Community to Respond this Friday

The Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice will lead the community in a response to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scheduled for release this Friday, November 20.

The EIS is expected to report the impacts the proposed military build-up and population boom will have on Guam’s environment. However, it was not conducted in a manner that demonstrated a true assessment of the social, cultural and political implications an increased military presence will have on the island’s people. Local residents and their elected officials were largely excluded from the process of gathering information and making recommendations for this study.

The EIS is an 8,000-page document, and the community will have 90 days to respond. This does not provide a sufficient opportunity for local residents to thoroughly investigate its findings and voice their concerns. The Department of Defense is already finalizing their plans for the build-up, without first taking into consideration the comments and concerns from local residents and leaders. An 8,000-page visual will be presented at Friday’s event to represent the enormity of the EIS.

The Coalition, which is made up of grassroots organizations and individuals advocating for the political, cultural, social, environmental and human rights for the people of Guam, will gather at 4 p.m. Friday at the ITC intersection in Tamuning to express these and other concerns about the EIS.

When: Friday, November 20, 2009, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Where: ITC Intersection
What: A Community Action Response to the Release of the EIS
Who: Guåhan Coaltion for Peace and Justice
For More Information: Call Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero at 735-2747 or email reclaimguahan@gmail.com

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