POHNPEI, 16 SEPTEMBER 2020 (FSMIS/MARIANAS VARIETY) — Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President David Panuelo has sent a letter to Reed Oliver, governor of the State of Pohnpei, regarding the FSM national government’s concerns regarding “dredging activities and quarrying of large amounts of landfill materials,” several instances of which are objectively harmful to the environment and are, debatably, occurring in a manner that is less than thoroughly transparent and accountable to the public.

Prompted by a combination of calls to his office, interactions with his cabinet and staff, and a personal commitment to his administration’s promise to uplift and protect the FSM’s natural environment, President Panuelo personally investigated citizens’ allegations of harmful dredging activities across Pohnpei State.

“Having personally investigated and witnessed such dredging activities in [Madolenihmw, Sokehs], Kitti, and in U, I join our citizens in expressing serious concern over the destructive effects of these new dredging and earthmoving activities into our rich, biodiverse mangrove,” President Panuelo said.

“I express further alarm over the lack of thorough environmental impact assessments [or EIA] conducted prior to giving approvals to dredging, quarrying, and earthmoving activities around Pohnpei. …The purpose of EIA is to prevent this sort of outcome with stringent enforcement and oversight. It is my understanding that, in Awak, there was a petition in opposition to the three dredging sites by the community that was ignored [by the state government]. It is further my understanding that there were no public hearings, which I am advised is mandated under Pohnpei State law.”

“I offer,” the president continued, “the [FSM] Department of Environment, Climate Change, & Emergency Management and the Pohnpei State Environmental Protection Agency collaborate and investigate this matter as soon as possible, and explore alternatives to coral for development projects. The FSM national government stands ready to provide funding and expertise to explore these alternatives to coral, and enforcement of existing laws.”

“Collaboration between the national and state government presents an opportunity for us to demonstrate ‘Enginkehlap’ while taking actions today for our nation’s prosperity tomorrow,” the president concluded. “I sincerely hope that the national government and Pohnpei State work together and address this issue jointly and more effectively.” …. PACNEWS

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