Tuesday, August 29, 2006

In the news again

Saipan Tribune, Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Governor supports ocean observatory for NMI

The Executive Branch has expressed its support for the construction of an ocean observatory in the CNMI.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial said that the NSF-MARGINS Steering Committee has the CNMI's full support for the proposed ORION Global Ocean Observatory Project located on the Big Blue Seamount in the Marianas.

"We support this project for multiple reasons. ORION's observation results have anticipated geophysical, chemical, and biological significance for both the worldwide scientific community and for the people of our islands," he said.

Fitial further said that the proximity of the proposed observatory location would mean that any results generated would have immediate impact for the residents of the CNMI, including advance warning for "tsunamigenic" events.

"I am pledging the full assistance of the CNMI government agencies in facilitating this project, should you choose to place the observatory in the Marianas," Fitial said, adding that as a Commonwealth of the United States, the CNMI could offer a stable political, economic, and legal platform for this project.

He said this opportunity would expand the CNMI's existing relations with Japan through this endeavor to further include the scientific community. "We would consider it an honor to have this prestigious international scientific project undertaken in the Marianas and will work diligently with the MARGINS Steering Committee and regional partners to ensure its success."

A letter sent last week to MARGINS, an organization concerned with plate tectonics, geology, and volcanoes, which sought for public comments on the proposal to build a Global Ocean Observatory in one of two places-Costa Rica or the Marianas.

Resource Conservation and Development Council's Angelo Villagomez earlier said if the CNMI could convince this organization to build their observatory in the Marianas, it would help the local economy as well as build the international prestige of the islands.

"We really want this project to come here, so could you please take the time to add a comment to the MARGINS online Discussion Board," he said. Villagomez had sought the community's assistance to tell MARGIN why this project would be better in the Marianas versus Costa Rica.

Villagomez added that the CNMI community should further inform the group that they could depend on local support among many others. "If you have the scientific background to add to the discussion on why the Marianas are a better choice scientifically, please do so."

The website is at http://www.margins.wustl.edu/OrionComments.html. Click on the link in the third paragraph and use the username "orionforum" and password "observatory."

That will pull up a new web browser. The online discussion forum is about halfway down. At the bottom of the page are some articles discussing the pros and cons of doing this project in the Marianas or in Costa Rica. "The articles will be helpful for those who are scientifically inclined, but for the rest of us, myself included, a show of local support should suffice," Villagomez added.

For further inquiry, contact Ken Kramer at RC&D 236-0893.

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