9th Circuit denies environmental groups’ request


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied yesterday the unopposed request of the Tinian Women Association and three other environmental groups to file an oversized opening brief in connection with their appeal from the federal court’s ruling in their lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Navy.

The Ninth Circuit ordered its clerk to strike the proposed brief that appellants Tinian Women Association and the three other environmental groups had filed.

The Ninth Circuit said the appellants’ replacement opening brief, not to exceed 14,000 words, is due within 14 days after the date of this order.

The U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Navy and other co-appellees are given 30 days after service of the replacement opening brief to file their answering brief.

The Ninth Circuit directed its clerk to amend court records to replace appellee James Mattis with Patrick M. Shanahan, who is the acting U.S. Secretary of Defense.

The Tinian Women Association and the three environmental groups appealed to the Ninth Circuit to reverse the District Court ruling issued last Aug. 22.

In that ruling, U.S. District Court for the NM Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona concludes that the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Navy have not violated the National Environmental Policy Act or the Administrative Procedure Act in connection with the lawsuit filed by the Tinian Women Association and three other environmental groups.

Manglona said she finds that the Defense and Navy’s decision to limit the training and range areas to those that met the needs of the Marines being relocated from Okinawa to Guam “was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”

“The decision was rationally and reasonably based on a consideration of the factors relevant to complying with the diplomatic agreement with Japan while meeting the immediate training needs of the Marines,” said Manglona in a 41-page decision and order that favored Defense and Navy.

The judge further finds that the actions decided on in the relocation final environmental impact statement (EIS) and supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the relocation of Marines in Okinawa to Guam, and the range and training areas proposed in the CNMI Joint Military Training Environmental Impact Statement (CJMT) Draft EIS are not connected actions.

The Tinian Women Association, Guardians of Gani, Pagan Watch, and the Center for Biological Diversity are suing Navy and Defense and their secretaries for alleged violation of NEPA APA over their decision to relocate 5,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam and to conduct live-training on Tinian and Pagan.

The lawsuit involves a procedural challenge to Defense and Navy’s decisions to relocate thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam and to construct training and base facilities on Guam and Tinian that are necessary to meet their needs.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
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