[Coral-List] The Majuro airport development coral mining saga

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Wed Mar 19 16:33:07 EDT 2014


You may not realize being, as you put it, how illogical the US system can
be. Also, being perhaps an"island outsider, you also lack the experience of
how bizarre things can happen in these environments.For the last three
decades, the US Virgin Islands' books have been declared "inauditable".
This is not to say that there are identifiable misdoings (although I am
convinced theyere are", the books couldn't be audited based on the
information provided. Logic would say thatthe US government delay the next
check until the US Virgin Islands deliver "auditable" books. Add to this
the fact that there is an environmental consultant who has been referred to
as the "biostitute" who knowingly takes the checks and fills in the details
later (I will not reveal their identity).Yet, this person is the most
sought after consultant because the reports look good and the permits come
in. Again, the solution is painfully obvious.... but if there is anything
more obvious, it is that this will not change. All the pirates have not
left the Caribbean.

We can argue about the realities of these situations, but the fact is that
this is not going to happen. Add to this the fact that the Marshall Islands
are not part of the US and the path forward becomes even more intractable.
This is a bizarre relationship that goes back to WWII. I have been trying
to better understand how it works and why the EPA and FAA are involved but
are apparently complicit. The bottom line is that there is corruption
involved and that we won't be able to do anything about it directly. At the
best, we can put enough pressure on through US channels to make it
sufficiently uncomfortable for people who might be in a position to make it
uncomfortable for the involved parties on Majuro - hence my suggestion. We
may not ultimately be able to mount a response that rises to a level
appropriate to all of Dean's efforst, but I'd like to at least not spend a
lot of time doing thaings that just make me feel "good".


On Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 7:28 AM, Rob Hilliard, imco
<rhilliard at imco.com.au>wrote:

> I agree with Charles Delbeek's comment about the length of time the
> Majuro reef issue has rolled on.  As a U.S. 'outsider' on the
> coral-list, I've been fascinated how little positive or actionable
> response Dean Jacobson has been able to elicit from US-based
> coral-listers, since his first posts for advice 3 years ago, regarding
> the fate of this reef due to the FAA-funded airport runway extension.
> Nor I have seen any post indicating that procedural/policy changes have
> been put in place or updated to prevent a potential re-ocurrence....
> The saga seems to have run for 3 years without apparently any clear
> public response from FAA or other US agencies charged with overseeing
> US-funded overseas project aid.  Below is copy of what I put on the
> Coral-List in reply to Dean's initial calls for advice & suggestions -
> this was back in May 2011...!
> "Date: Thu, 19 May 2011 02:40:21 +0800
> From: <rhilliard at imco.com.au>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Selection of mining sites for the Majuro
> airport developments
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> -ID: <4DD41295.7080800 at imco.com.au>
> If Dean Jacobsen's information re. his news and appeal about the Majuro
> airport development is complete and correct, then I'd suspect the FAA
> might be exposed to one or two court injunction mechanism/s - possibly
> relatively rapid - and taken on the basis of the need to halt it for
> review a US funding agreement/development aid project that was the
> subject of an apparently markedly deficient EIA approval process, and
> that otherwise is now set to destroy a reef resource of high
> biodiversity significance in the region near Majuro.
>  From Dean's information, it appears the EIA process was deficient and
> notably out of step with basic scoping concepts used by development
> banks and agencies around the world, in line with a range of well-known
> policies such as the Equator Principles etc. If selection of mining site
> options was not part of the project's EIA and approval process, it also
> raises the question as to what level of steps were taken to check the
> chance and scale of possible 'knock-on' erosion/ sedimentation effects
> (as a result of storm and/or routine wave climate and currents
> interacting with the altered seafloor topography, slope gradient and
> lost hard substrate integrity).   However I find it difficult to imagine
> that a US funding body would ignore such questions or steps.  It seems
> much may depend on what effort the FAA took to ensure that selection of
> the mining site/s received adequate attention, review and stakeholder
> input - at levels relevant to the respective policies and regulatory
> requirements of the RMI and the US, including international treaty
> obligations such as the CBD and well-established international funding
> procedures."
> _________________________
> Robert Hilliard PhDPg.Dip  (EMS)
> InterMarine Consulting Pty Ltd
> 19 Burton Road,Darlington
> Western Australia  6070
> Mob:    +61 427 855 485
> Office: +61 8 6394 0606
> Fax:     +61 8 9255 4668
> *rhilliard at imco.com.au  <mailto:rhilliard at imco.com.au>*
> *  *
> *P**lease consider our environment before printing this e-mail*
> To download the latest_Marine Pest Vessel Management Guidelines_  of the
> Western Australian Department of Fisheries (_24^th    January 2014_), go to:
> http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Documents/biosecurity/introduced_marine_pests_management_guidelines.pdf
> On 19-Mar-14 12:00 AM, coral-list-request at coral.aoml.noaa.gov wrote:
> > Send Coral-List mailing list submissions to
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> >
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> > than "Re: Contents of Coral-List digest...", e.g., cut and paste the
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> > please only include quoted text from prior posts that is necessary to
> > make your point; avoid re-sending the entire Digest back to the list.
> >
> >
> > Today's Topics:
> >
> >     1. The Saga of Dean Jacobson and Majuro Coral Mining (Jim
> >        Hendee) (Steve Mussman)
> >     2. Re: The Saga of Dean Jacobson and Majuro Coral Mining  (Jim
> >        Hendee) (Delbeek, Charles)
> >     3. Re: Impact of nutrient enrichment on coral reefs
> >        (Delbeek, Charles)
> >     4. Registration for the 3rd International Marine  Conservation
> >        Congress is Now Open (John A. Cigliano)
> >
> >
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > Message: 1
> > Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2014 14:41:40 -0400 (GMT-04:00)
> > From: Steve Mussman<sealab at earthlink.net>
> > Subject: [Coral-List] The Saga of Dean Jacobson and Majuro Coral
> >       Mining (Jim     Hendee)
> > To:"coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"  <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> > Message-ID:
> >       <
> 11405152.1395081700974.JavaMail.root at elwamui-muscovy.atl.sa.earthlink.net>
> >
> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
> >
> >
> >     So here is a guy willing to lay it all on the line to save a coral
> reef area
> >     that is imminently threatened.
> >     We should all be willing to help.
> >     The question is what specifically can be done beyond signing a
> petition and
> >     sending a couple of emails?
> >     What is happening to the Marshall Islands (and Dean Jacobson) should
> be
> >     taken as a glaring forewarning of broader things to come.
> >     Steve
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------
> >
> > Message: 2
> > Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2014 21:25:11 +0000
> > From: "Delbeek, Charles"<CDelbeek at calacademy.org>
> > Subject: Re: [Coral-List] The Saga of Dean Jacobson and Majuro Coral
> >       Mining  (Jim Hendee)
> > To: coral list<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> > Message-ID:
> >       <547D4E9855DEF447822EC3C9D76CE9EB286416D6 at MAILBOX01.calacademy.org
> >
> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> >
> > What I find somewhat disturbing is that this not new, Dean has been
> actively petitioning this list for help in raising awareness at all levels
> of government for this issue, yet it seems as if some are treating this as
> new. It is not ... Dean has been waging this battle for several years, with
> little help from those in a position to actually help.
> >
> > J. Charles Delbeek, M.Sc.
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov  [mailto:
> coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Carly Kenkel
> > Sent: Friday, March 14, 2014 11:27 AM
> > To: coral list
> > Subject: Re: [Coral-List] The Saga of Dean Jacobson and Majuro Coral
> Mining (Jim Hendee)
> >
> > Dear Coral-Listers,
> >
> > I feel compelled to write in support of Dean Jacobson and his attempts to
> > raise awareness concerning the impending doom of reefs in Majuro. I had
> the
> > pleasure of meeting Dean in 2010 when I spent a few weeks in the US
> > Marshall Islands sampling corals as part of NOAA funded project aimed at
> > evaluating genetic connectivity of Acroporids across Micronesia.  Dean
> was
> > kind enough to introduce me to the local reefs and share some of his work
> > documenting reef diversity in the region.
> >
> > The fragile status of reefs in and around Majuro are a conservation
> > biologist's worst nightmare. Majuro and Arno contain some of the most
> > striking atolls I have ever seen. The structure of these reefs is
> > breathtaking and though far from pristine, there are coral species on
> these
> > island that I have never seen anywhere else, such as the super-rare
> > "elkhorn" coral that made headlines a few years ago (
> >
> http://www.nbcnews.com/id/38566957/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/worlds-rarest-coral-found-remote-pacific-atoll/#.UyMs8V5siA0
> ).
> > However, these islands are also some of the most impoverished in
> > Micronesia, combining the worst attributes of a US-funded welfare state
> > with a social structure that places all the wealth and power in the hands
> > of a corrupt minority.
> >
> > While I'm sure the Marshallese care about their home, reef conservation
> > will always take a backseat to feeding their families. There are
> > individuals and organizations involved in conservation efforts in Majuro.
> > However, I witnessed as members of a conservation organization on Majuro
> > turned a blind eye to a massive female turtle when she rolled onto the
> dock
> > in Arno, filling the bed of a truck, belly up. She was caught while
> digging
> > a nest on the beach and destined to be the prime delicacy at a birthday
> > cook-out back on Majuro.
> >
> > Given Dean's experience and my own observations, I do not think local
> > efforts to prevent dredging are capable of success.  However, the
> Marshall
> > Islands are a US protectorate, and clearly the FAA and EPA have some
> > control over this project. I know people who read this listserv have
> > connections to policy makers in the US.  As Dr. Hendee pointed out, more
> > can be done. If you are able, please take the time to make inquiries
> about
> > the runway extension project at Majuro. I believe our combined efforts
> can
> > make an impact.
> >
> > Best,
> >
> > Carly
> >
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Dennis Hubbard
Chair, Dept of Geology-Oberlin College Oberlin OH 44074
(440) 775-8346

* "When you get on the wrong train.... every stop is the wrong stop"*
 Benjamin Stein: "*Ludes, A Ballad of the Drug and the Dream*"

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