Navy to conduct supplemental EIS for Pågat firing range

Joint Guam Program Office Director Joseph Ludovici yesterday said the Navy will initiate the supplemental environmental impact statement to evaluate alternatives for a live-fire training range complex. Variety file photo

JOINT Guam Program Office Director Joseph Ludovici yesterday said the Department of the Navy intends to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement, or SEIS, to evaluate alternatives for a live-firing range complex – as opposed to using the Pågat area.

This is seen as a victory for the Guam Preservation Trust, which is fighting the Navy’s proposed firing range.

Expected to start in early 2012, the SEIS is expected to take up to two years – at the minimum – to complete.

In his declaration, Ludovici stated the Navy will initiate the SEIS “to re-evaluate live-fire training range complex alternatives, based upon the application of probabilistic modeling.”

Ludovici earlier described “probabilistic modeling” as a method of analyzing firing range surface danger areas, in which their size might be reduced and could “affect the assessment of a site’s suitability for ... [the] development of the range training complex.”

Director Ludovici also informed the court that the Navy is committed to providing opportunities for public involvement in determining the scope of issues to be addressed and identifying the significant issues related to the proposed action.

He also declared that the Navy will complete the SEIS for the complex before any final decision on the location of the firing range is made.

Sen. Judi Guthertz, chair of the Committee on the Guam Military Buildup, has released the following statement: “This is what should have occurred from the beginning. I consider it a victory for reason and sensibility. I congratulate Director Ludovici and the Navy for deciding to step back and do it over – the right way. I know that there are alternatives that can provide a ‘win-win’ for this issue of locating live-firing ranges. We want the buildup and we want a buildup that takes into proper consideration the needs and desires of the civilian community.”

Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo also commented on the Navy’s intent to prepare an SEIS on the proposed firing range: “The Navy is taking a prudent step in preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement to better address the ongoing concerns in our community, regarding the preferred location for the firing range,” said Bordallo.

The delegate said she looked forward to “working with the Navy, Marine Corps, as well as stakeholders and leaders on Guam to look at alternative locations for the proposed firing range, and I will urge the Navy to consider alternative locations that were proposed by local leaders and stakeholders during public forums last year on the EIS. I will also work with the Navy and local leaders to ensure that this process is open and transparent and that our community is given the opportunity to provide input before a Record of Decision is developed.”

No funds

Ludovici said there are no funds appropriated by the U.S. Congress for Fiscal Year 2012 to acquire any property for or to construct the training complex.

He also stated this does “not affect execution of the ... construction of operational, support, or administrative facilities on federal property, including Apra Harbor, Andersen Air Force Base, and Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station-Finegayan.”

Guthertz further commented that the declaration by Director Ludovici is contrary to what many people have said – that “any delay in the buildup is not caused by any comments by people here in Guam, but by much larger issues such as the federal deficit and the delay in resolving the Futenma relocation facility matter.”

The declaration was filed in the lawsuit brought against the Navy by the National Historic Trust, the Guam Historic Trust, We Are Guåhan, and others. The lawsuit seeks to stop the Defense Department from putting a firing range complex in the Pågat area.

Hawaii District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi must now order the Navy to conduct an SEIS. The court has yet to issue an order.

The Guam Preservation Trust has scheduled a press conference tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the historic Lujan House to give a status update on the Pågat lawsuit.

Legal questions will be answered by the Trust’s legal counsel in San Francisco, who will participate in the conference via video teleconferencing.

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