[Coral-List] Majuro airport end run

Dean Jacobson atolldino at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 17 03:02:47 EDT 2011

Allow me to share a letter I sent to
Things got a bit more urgent for the
airport reef.  Today the acting president of the RMI, Jack Ading sent a
letter to RMI EPA saying that because the runway project is important for the
RMI, the planned reef dragline dredging should proceed without delay,
regardless of environmental concerns.  This end-run has PII's fingerprints
all over it.  (It is widely accepted that this largest of local
corporations has considerable political clout). The RMI government’s letter of
intervention is a direct response to my efforts to protect this reef... I was
referred to as a "private consultant of the EPA" even though I am not
working for EPA and have never received any pay from EPA.
What is happening is that a very large
reef is about to be destroyed by the very firm (PII) that will directly profit
from it (its a $16 million project, and mining the adjacent coral reef is the
cheapest source of fill); they are able to dictate that they will not be
impeded by any environmental concerns.  They will be no meaningful
Please be advised that while Jack
Ading, in his letter, claimed that all regulations (i.e. the EIA process) had
been followed (therefore what ever PII wants to do is a done deal), the fact is
the EIA by Leo A. Daly was deficient and the public hearing in 2007 was very
poorly attended.  In arguing that the runway extension is "important
to the RMI" (which is debatable... it is important to PII) Jack Ading (or
who ever wrote this letter, probably a PII officer) made no mention of the
importance of coral reefs for shoreline protection or food security.
This, in my humble opinion, does not
let FAA off the hook.  The last time they funded an airport project (ARFF
facility) the adjacent coral reef was dredged.  This is how things happen
here, FAA is not able to claim ignorance.  The fact is there are no local
environmental laws designed to protecting sensitive ecosystem. The 1987
Conservation Act has not yet been passed.  EPA does not have authority,
yet, to protect the environment.  Only FAA, the funding agency, the reason
this project is moving forward, has any leverage..  FAA should and must
demand that higher environmental standards be required for this project.
Further, in this week's local paper
(June 17 issue of the Marshall Islands Journal, in which I have published a two
page spread on why coral reefs need to be valued and protected) it was reported
that the movement of PII's giant 200 ton crane onto the reef flat will proceed
upon FAA approval.  The issue concerns aircraft safety; the issue of coral
reef safety was not mentioned.  To quote "It's a longer process
because it is being reviewed by the FAA," he said.. "It's not just one
office, but all concerned offices within FAA."
One possible option (with recent
president, concerning a proposed dry dock project) is to seek a court
injunction, but I do not have $10,000 for the attorney fees. 
I believe that when the resulting
destruction of this reef, most likely to begin before the end of June, is
publicized it will be quite embarrassing for FAA.  This embarrassment can
be avoided, if common sense can be allowed to bear.  The RMI apparently cannot stand
up to PII, but I am sure the US FAA can.
Please advise, what can be (or is
being) done about this within NOAA?

Dean Jacobson, Ph.D.
College of the Marshall 

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