The House of Representatives has renewed its support for a joint venture company seeking to extract pozzolan from Pagan.
The Lower House yesterday adopted a resolution urging Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and the Department of Lands to reinstate the mining permit of JG Sablan Rock Quarry.
All present members, except Rep. Cinta Kaipat, voted in favor of the resolution. Kaipat, who is a member of Pagan Watch, voted no.
House Joint Resolution 15-19, authored by Rep. Candido Taman and eight other House members, stated that allowing JG Sablan and its business partner, Bridgecreek International Corporation, to start mining in Pagan would mean some money for the cash-strapped government.
”The island of Pagan possess natural resources that could be mined, quarried, and extracted for commercial purposes that would generate immediate revenue for the CNMI government and provide necessary infrastructure on the Northern Islands,” the lawmakers said.
The Legislature had repeatedly shown its support for JG Sablan. The House and the Senate previously adopted separate resolutions in support of the mining project. Both houses also passed a bill validating JG Sablan’s mining permit, which DPL had terminated. The governor disapproved the bill, but the Legislature overrode the governor’s veto. The bill became Public Law 15-21.
The legal dispute over JG Sablan’s mining rights continued after the administration filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of P.L. 15-21. The civil action is pending in the CNMI Superior Court.
The lawmakers said in their resolution that the court may take years to resolve the issue. ”This case further delays the implementation of the Pagan mining project and the infusion of immediate revenue into the CNMI economy,” they said.
They also argued that P.L. 15-21 is valid and enforceable. The CNMI Judiciary has issued neither an order to put the law’s implementation on hold, nor a decision declaring the law unconstitutional.
According to the legislators, the government is violating P.L. 15-21 by continuing to stop JG Sablan’s mining plan. This may expose DPL to civil and other financial liabilities, they said.
”The CNMI can no longer depend on the tourism and garment industries to supplement the government revenue collection. The CNMI must venture into new industries such as the pozzolan mining and extraction industry on Pagan to generate additional revenue for the government,” they said.
Information from: www.saipantribune.com