By: Keith Marrack, Chair, Military Affairs Committee 2021-2022

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Army Training Land Retention at Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) has been released to the public. The Draft EIS evaluated four alternatives for potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts on training, land use, biological resources, cultural resources, hazardous materials, air quality, noise, geology, water resources, socioeconomics, environmental justice, transportation, airspace, utilities, and human health and safety. The four alternatives for the state land analyzed were (1) full retention of approximately 23,000 acres, (2) modified retention of approximately 19,700 acres, (3) minimum retention and access of approximately 10,100 acres and 11 miles of roads and training trails, and (4) no retention. To view the Draft EIS and meeting materials, go to the EIS website at https://home.army.mil/hawaii/index.php/ptaeis/project-home. The Draft EIS comment period is April 8 – June 7, and you can submit your comment on the website, via email [email protected], or by mail to ATLR PTA EIS Comments, PO Box 3444, Honolulu, HI 96801-3444.

I attended the public meeting in Hilo on April 25 and was given a flier on Providing Effective Comments that I think is worth sharing.

  1. Comments are not counted as votes for or against the project. Agreeing or disagreeing with the proposed action does not inform the Final EIS.
  2. Be familiar with the Draft EIS and other project documents prior to submitting a comment.
  3. When providing comments on the Draft EIS, identify specific issues relevant to the content of the EIS.
  4. Effective comments include additional information that should be considered or factual corrections to the analysis, Provide specific information and sources.
  5. Provide solution-oriented comments with specific examples where possible.

I was not able to stay for the entire meeting, but I can tell you that the vast majority of speakers did not address the Draft EIS, but rather aired their feelings on training at PTA and the military in general (one individual even did a five-minute rap on the subject). Interesting, but not very helpful to the people writing the EIS. That being said, I am sure the Army would appreciate any support you can provide.

For those of you interested in supporting the military on island and around the state, please join us for the next Military Affairs Council (MAC) meeting on Wednesday, May 11 at 12:00. Reach out to Miles or Taylor at the Chamber office for details.