The federal court placed under advisement yesterday the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by four groups against the U.S. military over the Navy’s decision to relocate U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam and to conduct live-fire training on Tinian and Pagan.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona also set a status conference for April 6, 2017.
Joshua P. Wilson, the trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice Natural Resources Section, argued for the U.S. military.
Earthjustice counsel David L. Henkin argued for the four environmental and cultural preservation group: the Tinian Women’s Association, Guardians of Gani, PaganWatch, and the Center for Biological Diversity. They opposed the U.S. military’s motion.
The groups are suing the U.S. Department of Navy, then Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, U.S. Department of Defense, and then Defense Secretary Ashton Carter for alleged violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedure Act.
The complainants, through Henkin and local attorney Kimberlyn K. King-Hinds, asked the court to declare the defendants in violation of the NEPA and APA for relying on the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Single Environmental Impact Statement to make a decision on the relocation of Marines.
Wilson argued that the court should dismiss the lawsuit because the relocation presents a non-justiciable political question.
Wilson said the filing of the lawsuit is premature as they are coming to the court based on a draft report that is about to be superseded by another report.
Wilson said there is a very important premise behind the relocation. He said the decision-making process for the CNMI Joint Military Training on Tinian and Pagan is not done yet and that it’s not even sure if it will really happen.