Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ken Kramer Strikes Back

Ken Kramer had another letter to the editor published in the newspaper today.
Letter to the Editor: Marine monument

ONE of the concerns being raised about the proposed “Marianas Trench Marine Monument” is that it would preclude an underwater mining industry one hundred years down the road.

Let’s do some math: The total area of the proposed “National Park of the Sea” is about 115,000 square miles, while the world’s oceans cover over 138,000,000 (138 million) square miles. 115,000 divided by 138,000,000 equals 0.08 percent of the world’s oceans.

The area of ocean contained in the proposed protected area, which is over 300 miles north of Saipan, encompasses less than one tenth of one percent of the ocean floor.

The odds are not that great (based on the area of the world’s oceans) that the proposed monument area is going to be the site of some dubious valuable mineral resources or that these alleged minerals, if present, would be the most likely to be mined first, or within the next few decades. Need I mention pozzolan?

Deep sea mining is in its infancy and with the exception of diamond mining in shallow waters off Namibia, no mining at any depth is commercially producing in the world today, never mind a mining industry in the deepest part of the ocean, hundreds of miles away from the nearest port.

Then, if the technology were to be finally developed, mining will likely start first in developing countries with lax environmental laws, not in waters under United States jurisdiction. American environmental laws would not allow the level of destruction, contamination, and sedimentation that a developing country would allow, making it cheaper to mine in developing countries. Is the devastation of the marine environment what mining proponents are advocating?

Finally, this issue still ignores the fact that the CNMI already tried to sue the federal government for the mineral rights and lost. The CNMI does not control a single square inch of the submerged lands around our islands. I know that this is a hard pill for some to swallow, but it is true. See: United States (U.S.) District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands v. United States of America, No. 99-0028 (Aug. 7, 2003).

However, as I explained in my previous letter to the editor, designating a monument would give the CNMI co-management over our waters for the first time in our history.

The monument will create jobs, add to government coffers, bring unprecedented worldwide positive attention, lead to the building of a visitors center on Saipan, Tinian, or Rota, will keep illegal foreign fishing vessels out of our waters, and most importantly, the last remaining wilderness in the Marianas will remain wild. Our great grand children will always have that marine sanctuary to know what these islands were like before concrete, poker parlors, and midterm elections became a way of life in the CNMI.

Marianas RC&D Coordinator

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