Guam State Historic Preservation Officer Patrick Lujan signed a six-month extension on an interim Programmatic Agreement while the Department of Defense and the Guam State Historic Preservation Office work to finalize the new agreement for the Mariana Islands Training and Testing areas.
The new agreement will cover 10 years and should be completed by June 2020.
During an informational hearing at the Legislature on Tuesday, Lujan provided an update on the negotiations.
Lujan said if the current agreement had been allowed to expire, it would have added a lot more bureaucratic work.
The Preservation Office said the interim agreement is almost identical to the 2009 agreement, except for the removal of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
“There’s some standing conflict, I would say, between the CNMI and the Department of the Navy. So what is happening up there … it’s on a different consultation and negotiation level,” Lujan said. “For us to proceed with what we’re focusing on the Guam side, this buys us time while we work on the MITT.”
Carlotta Leon Guerrero, the governor’s senior policy adviser on the military buildup, told lawmakers that the CNMI governor told her the northern islands wanted “to go their own way.”
Sen. Therese Terlaje asked whether the interim agreement would allow the federal government to extend its “permits, which also expire, to conduct training and testing.”
State archaeologist John Mark Joseph said the expiration of the previous programmatic agreement today would likely mean the Navy would have to seek new permits.
Lujan said there would be a consultation in January 2020 to discuss the Mariana Islands Training and Testing area. Terlaje urged the Preservation Office to invite groups such as Prutehi Litekyan and other organizations to participate in the discussion before a new agreement is signed.
“It’s the SHPO’s decision that we are all going to have to live by,” Terlaje said. “We can’t stop you from signing an agreement we think is bad. It’s a process to influence your knowledge of what you’re signing and the implications.”
The U.S. military, including the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force, along with the Coast Guard, conducts military readiness activities in designated areas. These areas collectively make up the Mariana Islands Range Complex.