Navy asks court to junk environmental groups’ suit


The U.S. Department of Navy and the U.S. Department of Defense are asking the federal court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by four groups over the Navy’s decision to relocate Marines from Okinawa to Guam and to conduct live-fire training on Tinian and Pagan.

In their response to the lawsuit, the Navy and Defense and their officials, through the Department of Justice, said the groups failed to “state a claim on which relief can be granted on some or all of their claims.”

Taylor N. Ferrell, trial attorney for the DOJ Environmental and Natural Resources Division, asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to judge in favor of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Defense, and their officials.

The groups—the Tinian Women Association, Guardians of Gani, Pagan Watch, and the Center for Biological Diversity—are suing the defendants for alleged violation of National Environmental Protection Act of 1969 and Administrative Procedure Act.

Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of the groups.

District judge Ramona V. Manglona recently granted the Navy’s and Defense’s motion to dismiss the groups’ second claim that the Navy and Defense violated NEPA by failing to consider alternative locations for the Marines, numbering 5,000.

Manglona dismissed the second claim with prejudice, which means the groups cannot re-file the claim.

Manglona gave the Navy, Defense, Navy Secretary Spencer Sworn, and Defense Secretary James Mattis 14 days to respond to the groups’ first claim.

In their answer last Friday, Ferrell said the groups failed to adequately identify one or more of its claims during the administrative process, thereby waiving or failing to exhaust the claim(s).

Ferrell said the groups also failed to establish standing to sue the defendants.

In Manglona’s recent rulings, Earthjustice attorney David Henkin said they are thankful that Manglona reaffirmed that the military is not above the law.

“Before deciding to move thousands of Marines to the Marianas, the Navy should have considered the devastation to Tinian and Pagan from the live-fire training those Marines will need to perform their mission.

“The people of Tinian and Pagan will now have their day in court to challenge this existential threat to their homelands,” said Henkin in a statement.

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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