U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona on Friday denied Tinian Women Association and three other environmental groups’ motion to amend her judgment that favored the U.S Department of Defense and Department of Navy.
Manglona said her findings do not undermine her conclusion that Defense and Navy provided a rational reason for excluding the proposed range and training areas on Tinian and Pagan from the relocation final environmental impact statement and, instead, assessing them in the CNMI Joint Military Training Environmental Impact Statement draft EIS.
Thus, Manglona said, the actions set out in the relocation final EIS and actions proposed in the CJMT draft EIS are not connected.
Further, the judge said, the exhibits do not undermine the court’s determination that the actions set out in the relocation final EIS and CJMT draft EIS may have cumulative impacts, and defendants are required to assess them while revising the CJMT draft EIS.
The Tinian Women Association and three other environmental groups, through counsel David L. Henkin and Kimberlyn King-Hinds, had asked the court to amend the footnote in its decision to correct the fact that these seven exhibits are part of the administrative record.
The groups said the court should then review and consider those exhibits in rendering its decision on the merits.
The lawyers said the court “should correct its mistake” and “reconsider its decision” in light of the improperly excluded exhibits.
In her order Friday, Manglona granted the motion to amend the footnote of her decision and order about the seven exhibits.
Last Aug. 22, Manglona ruled that Defense and Navy have not violated the National Environmental Policy Act or the Administrative Procedure Act in connection with the environmental groups’ lawsuit.
Manglona said she finds that the Defense and Navy’s decision to limit the training and range areas to those that meet the needs of the Marines being relocated from Okinawa to Guam “was not arbitrary, capricious, [or] an abuse of discretion.”
“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 that favored Defense and Navy.
The judge further finds that the actions decided on in the relocation final environmental impact statement and supplemental environmental impact statement 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 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 top officials 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 build training and base facilities on Guam and Tinian that are necessary to meet their needs.