Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said some of the concerns raised in the lawsuit filed by four different environmental and cultural preservation groups were among those they raised when they were meeting with the negotiating panel for the CNMI Joint Military Training activities.
The Tinian Women’s Association, Guardians of Gani, PaganWatch, and Center for Biological Diversity have sued the U.S. Department of Defense and Secretary Ashton Carter and the U.S. Department of the Navy and Secretary Ray Mabus.
The lawsuit is for violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedure Act for failing to consider relocation to Guam and associated live-fire training in a Single Environmental Impact Statement, and failure to consider alternatives.
“Some of the allegations made in the complaint track the concerns this administration has raised over the past several years,” said Torres, who just came back from representing the CNMI in last week’s Republican National Convention, after his office got a copy of the complaint.
Torres said this is one of the topics for discussion in the ongoing Section 902 consultations between the CNMI and the U.S. governments.
“There is the question of whether the live-fire training proposed under the Guam Relocation and CJMT projects are consistent with the Covenant between the United States and the CNMI,” Torres said.
Addressing the cumulative effects of various ongoing and proposed DoD activities in the CNMI—including CJMT, divert airfield, GRP, and the Mariana Islands Training and Testing Project—is another of their concerns.
“We are in general agreement with the portions of the complaint alleging that these cumulative effects have never been properly disclosed, studied, or mitigated. In fact, we raised this very concern in its comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Study,” added Torres.
Torres said the proposals share a common geography and timing, as it would make an impact in the CNMI’s economic and environmental resources. It also appears that this is part of the DoD’s development plan.