Decision near in suit vs relocation of Marines, live-fire training

A decision is forthcoming relating to the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by four groups that oppose a plan to transfer U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam and to conduct live-fire training on Tinian and Pagan.

At a status conference on Thursday, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona informed the parties that the motion to dismiss that the court heard last Feb. 9 is still under advisement.

The Tinian Women Association, Guardians of Gani, Pagan Watch, and the Center for Biological Diversity are suing the U.S. Department of Navy, U.S. Department of Defense, and their officials for alleged violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Act over the Navy’s decision to relocate 5,000 U.S. Marines to Guam and to old live-fire training on Tinian and Pagan.

At the conference, Manglona denied the groups’ offer to supplement the record of the proceedings, but told them they hold on to the additional information until after a decision has been issued in the motion to dismiss.

According to the minutes of the conference, Earthjustice counsel David L. Henkin, counsel for the groups, apprised the court of related matters and discussed concerns.

Joshua Wilson, trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice Natural Resources Section, stated his concerns. Henkin and Wilson appeared telephonically at the conference.

Henkin told the court there was some new information and offered to supplement the record as to the pending motion to dismiss.

In denying the offer, Manglona noted that the motion to dismiss has already been fully briefed and argued.

Manglona set another status conference for July 6, 2017.

At the motion hearing, Wilson argued that the court should dismiss the lawsuit because the plaintiffs claims for injunctive relief and to vacate the records of decision regarding the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam presents a non-justiciable political question.

Wilson argued, among other things, that the plaintiffs lack standing to assert their claims for declaratory relief with respect to the Guam relocation, because the court cannot act to redress their alleged injuries.

In plaintiffs’ opposition to the motion, Henkin asserted, among other things, that the U.S. and Japan 2013 agreement got rid of the requirements that the U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa have to go to Guam.

Henkin said the 2013 agreement is currently enforced, yet the U.S. government keeps on talking about a superseded agreement in 2009.

Henkin said the 2013 agreement also got rid of any deadline for the relocation to happen.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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  • Hafa!

    Is this another military tactic to make sure that they get what they want and forget everyone else? Why can’t they take the money they usually get funded for and build a military base on Pagan. That way they are more closer to North Korea…

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