U.S. Virgin Islands Legislators to Seek Override if Governor Vetoes Bill to Ban Burning

Written by Red Carpet Shelley. Posted in Caribbean, Caribbean News

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Published on December 08, 2017 with No Comments

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Senate President Myron D. Jackson said Tuesday he will seek an override if Governor Kenneth E. Mapp decides to veto Bill No. 32-0157, an act banning the burning of all fallen trees and vegetative debris generated as a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Governor Mapp has publicly stated his plans to move forward with air curtain incineration, the process selected to burn approximately 700,000 cubic yards of fallen tree material by March 2018, despite a majority of senators voting in support of the ban.

“The 32nd Legislature has made its intention clear after hearing the cries from our residents who do not want their health and the environment to be negatively impacted by the hasty decision to burn our local vegetation,” Jackson said. “If the Governor moves to veto this critical piece of legislation, we will have no choice but to seek an override.”

President Jackson, the primary sponsor of the legislation, has long cited environmental and health reasons in support of ending debris burning, along with a desire to see valuable woods such as mahogany and other popular Virgin Islands species such as mango and genip converted into handcrafted furniture and decorative arts such as pens and cutting boards by skilled artisans.

Mapp’s announcement to advance burning despite protests is the latest in a series of events dividing community activists and senators with the administration on the issue. Jackson hosted a town hall meeting in November at the Cleone Henrietta Creque Legislative Conference Room on St. John that brought environmentalists, local, and federal emergency partners together to debate the issue. There representatives of FEMA and the United States Army Corps of Engineers made it clear that they take action based on priorities set by the Government of the Virgin Islands.

“Our trees provide valuable wood that can be made into products that can drive economic opportunities to benefit the Virgin Islands,” Jackson said. “Treating it like common trash is highly inappropriate.”

The Office of Senate President Myron D. Jackson and Office of Senator Janelle K. Sarauw invite the public to a joint town hall meeting to discuss the matter further at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 9th at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers on St. Thomas.

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