Worried about the impact of the impending military buildup on the island, environmental groups in Guam such as the University of Guam Green Steering Committee are saying there should be a partnership with the local community on this issue.
Dr. John Peterson, director of the Micronesia Area Research Center at UOG and green steering committee chair, said planning should not only be about taking care of the troops but also about putting up sustainable environmental infrastructures.
“This [sustainable environmental infrastructures] should be inclusive in the process of the military buildup because we at UOG are trying to promote a healthy environment,” he said.
Peterson is attending the 26th Pacific Islands Environmental Conference as an observer and he lauded the organizers for getting together all the stakeholders to interact and discuss solutions about environmental issues in the region and the impacts of global warming.
“It’s should not be a your-side-of-the-fence and my-side-of-the-fence mentality but there must be a coordination process with the local community,” he said.
Peterson is optimistic, however, with the newly confirmed Undersecretary of Defense for the Asia Pacific Region, Gen. Chip Gregson, whom he said has a vision for an islandwide process.
He said the U.S. Navy, the government of Guam and environmental groups in Guam must create some kind of arrangement to discuss these environmental impact issues.
“We at UOG are working on the educational part. We want a change in the behavior of the student body. Our faculty and the school of business are drawing up green business plans,” he said.
He said these are the things they want the community to engage in as they prepare for the military buildup.
The issue of the military buildup and its impact on the environment will be one of the highlights of today’s second day of discussion. Don Schregardus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, is scheduled to speak on the issue at 8:30am.
A participant from the U.S. Marine Corps in Hawaii, who preferred not to be identified, said there are already environmental plans and programs within the military services.
He said he is interested in presentations about environmental regulations and the kind of services the military can operate.
When asked for his initial assessment of the conference, he said this is a very useful tool to allow people from different organizations and islands to share their perspectives on environmental issues affecting their communities.
By Nazario Rodriguez Jr.