In the next week or so, the White House will begin looking into areas that have been proposed by private environmental groups as potential Marine Monuments. Our Mariana Trench Marine Monument is on the list for consideration.
We have presented this idea to hundreds of people in our community. We went on the radio and the local news station to explain the proposed project and it has had several write-ups in both local newspapers. We have made every attempt to speak with as many people as possible and this dialogue is ongoing.
The feedback we have gotten at our many public meetings has been positive. How strong has the support been? Well, both Heinz Hofschneider and Juan Babauta like the idea and want to see more information. When was the last time they agreed on something? The same goes for Tina Sablan, Cinta Kaipat, and Greg Cruz. They have all seen the proposal and like it.
Senator Paul Manglona was on TV last week and said, "The Senate is very much in support of any national monument or national park where we protect the environment. I want to put that on the record." Six other senators read statements into the official Senate Record last Wednesday basically saying that they liked the idea and that they needed more information. The recent joint resolution was passed to make it clear that they needed to know more before they could make any decision.
The Chamber of Commerce and HANMI are both in support. Immigrant rights activist Wendy Doromal and Daily Kos blogger Dennis Greenia are also in support. They don’t tend to agree on a lot of things, but they agree with this.
Many community members have written letters to the editor to raise concerns or to show support. Last week 19 letters to the editor and editorials spoke in support of the Monument. Only three were against.
A member of the WESPAC advisory panel, John Gourley, has been on a campaign of personal misinformation, the likes of which we have not seen since he was hired to take Sugar Dock away from the people living in Chalan Kanoa. Remember Save Sugar Dock?
Gourley and other WESPAC representatives in the administration have convinced the governor that this proposal does not even deserve to be considered.
That is unfortunate, because most people in the community think it is not only a great proposal, but a "no-brainer."
So next week when the White House convenes to discuss which proposals they will consider investigating, they will weigh the governor’s non-support, which is based on the misinformation he has received from WESPAC, against the support of Washington Representative Pete A. Tenorio and the many other people in our community who have publicly stated that they like the idea.
The White House might decide that this proposal is too controversial and move on to another monument proposal, such as the one in American Samoa being touted by their governor. If that is the case, the opportunity to protect the waters surrounding our uninhabited far northern islands using federal funds, not to mention the accompanying local jobs, international exposure, visitor’s center, and increased research and education, will cease to exist.
However, it is my hope that the White House will see the merits of creating the world’s second largest protected area around the deepest part of the ocean. In that case, a dialogue between the local government and the federal government will ensue. There will be public hearings and public comment. Then if this is ultimately something that the people of the CNMI want, we can ask the President to create our monument.
The issue of the Mariana Trench Monument is bringing together people that aren't necessarily what I would call friends. I point out a few of those in my editorial today. Bruce and Ed are probably about as far apart as you can get on any issue, but they agree that the Monument is a good idea.
There was another round of letters for and against this week, mostly for. I'll put the links up...maybe tomorrow.
I will point out really quick that the three anti-monument letter writers today are all closely associated with WESPAC, which has a long history of manipulating indigenous people. Need I mention that WESPAC is under federal investigation for doing things similar to what it appears they are doing here in Saipan?