[Coral-List] Dean Jacobson, coral reefs and the FAA

Walter Goldberg goldberg at fiu.edu
Thu Mar 20 17:43:05 EDT 2014

Message: 1
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2014 17:25:37 -0400
From: Ellen Prager <pragere at earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] The Saga of Dean Jacobson and Majuro Coral
	Mining	(Jim Hendee)
To: "Bourque, Amanda" <amanda_bourque at nps.gov>
Cc: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Message-ID: <28C3331E-2455-4761-A6F7-CB41B6CA6DFC at earthlink.net>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252

I have some excellent media contacts.  Does anyone have a really good summary of the issue?I?m happy to pass on. 


Ellen Prager, PhD
President, Earth2Ocean, Inc
Ph 305.720.7070

 Ellen, I sent a letter- a summary of sorts- regarding Dean Jacobson, the expansion of the Airport runway at Majuro, and the plight of the nearby reef to the individuals listed below. Although letters have been exchanged and concerns about the reef have been voiced in the past by USFWS and the EPA, nothing appears to have halted the construction project. It is discouraging that I have not heard anything in return from anyone who was copied on my note, however, the individuals I attempted to contact are in positions of authority. A good media hiding might do them some good.

Subject: Reef destruction in Majuro 
Date: March 16, 2014 2:36:04 PM EDT 
To: majuropd at state.gov, michael.tosatto at noaa.gov, dan_ashe at fws.gov, mark.mcclardy at faa.gov 
Cc: ron.v.simpson at faa.gov, higuchi.dean at epa.gov, moyer.robert at epa.gov, scott.jeff at epa.gov

In 2007, the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) broke ground for two multi-million dollar projects managed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands Ports Authority. The funding source was primarily the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration under its Airport Improvement Program. One of these projects included the construction of a runway safety area at the Amata Kabua International Airport on Majuro. In 2012 decisions were made to change the source of fill for this work from the lagoon where sand is plentiful, to a flourishing coral reef that is closer to the runway. The reef will be destroyed as it is dredged and mined. This outrage resulted in delays and inquiries from numerous Federal agencies in 2012. It is a violation of  Executive Order 13089 that protects coral reefs, and although the RMI is an independent, freely associated State, the funding for this project comes from American taxpayers.

The whistleblower in this matter is one Dean Jacobson, a former instructor at the College of the Marshall Islands. He videotaped the reef in 2012 among other occasions, and claimed back them to have been threatened with deportation and the loss of his position. On or about 12 March 2014, those threats came to fruition. He was fired, arrested, and according to an email from him, he has now been arraigned for criminal trespass by the RMI Attorney General's office, most likely but not specifically for the videotape (see link below). The email thread on this issue has been followed actively by the 8000+ subscribers to NOAA's Coral List: 
http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/pipermail/coral-list/ majuro


Which steps are you as agency leaders actively pursuing to insure adequate and responsible oversight of Federal funding for this project, and protection of these coral reef resources? And in addition, now that the main proponent of protection for this reef appears to have been neutralized by local authorities, what hope is there for action by your office? I thank you in advance for your responses.

Walter M. Goldberg
Professor Emeritus
Florida International University


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