The U.S. Department of the Navy violated National Environmental Policy Act by failing to consider the cumulative impacts of future Marine Air Ground Task Force training on Pagan, according to Tinian
Women Association and three other environmental groups.
The groups, through David L. Henkin of Earthjustice, pointed out that the Navy and U.S. Department of Defense themselves note “the geographic scope of the cumulative impacts analysis” includes all areas outside of the project impact zone “that could be affected by the proposed action.”
In this case, Henkin said, the relocation from Okinawa to Guam will harm the Mariana fruit bats, which comprise a single population throughout the Mariana archipelago, including Pagan.
Henkin said the record further confirms the Navy knew that future training on Pagan by Guam-based Marines was likely to harm Mariana fruit bats.
He said the Navy’s failure to take the requisite hard look at the cumulative impacts of future training on Pagan—which is within the range of imperiled bats the Guam relocation of Marines would harm—further violates NEPA.
The groups—the Tinian Women Association, Guardians of Gani, Pagan Watch, and the Center for Biological Diversity—are suing the U.S. Navy and Defense and their top officials for alleged violation of NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act over their decision to relocate 5,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam and to conduct live-training on Tinian and Pagan.
Henkin said whether the extensive and highly destructive training on Tinian and Pagan by Guam-based Marines is characterized as a connected or cumulative action, the Navy’s failure to consider and disclose its impacts in the relocation environmental impact study and supplemental environmental impact study subverted NEPA’s command to “ensure that environmental information is available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and before actions are taken.”
Henkin said there is no record to support the Navy’s and Defense’s litigation position that moving Marines Corps personnel out of Okinawa was an “independent consideration,” such that the Navy would proceed with relocating Marines to Guam, even if they could not adequately train to defend the U.S. and its allies.