NEPA experts chosen as EIS consultant


Dentons, a global law firm, is the consultant selected to review thousands of environmental impact documents on proposed live-fire training ranges on Tinian and Pagan, Saipan Tribune learned.

Dentons had submitted a joint application for environmental impact consultant job with Environmental Science Associates, or ESA, an environmental science and planning firm.

Notably, Dentons assisted the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Guam Preservation Trust in suing the U.S. Department of Defense to prevent the building of live-fire range complexes on Pagat, an ancient Chamorro village in Guam.

The groups argued that the U.S. Navy failed to adequately consider and evaluate alternate sites for their firing complex, and by doing so failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.

In November 2011—in what was called a victory by these groups—the U.S. Navy filed a declaration in federal court to order another supplemental review of proposed sites—essentially restarting the NEPA process over again.

On their website, under “Environmental Litigation,” Dentons say the National Environmental Policy Act is an area of “particular strength” for the firm.

“The head of our U.S. Environmental practice was the lead draftsman for the NEPA’s implementing regulations (which apply to all federal agencies), and no NEPA document on which we have advised has ever been found inadequate in court,” Dentons says.

Dentons was referring to partner Nicholas Yost, who served as general counsel of the Council on Environmental Quality—in the executive office of the President of the United States—from 1977 to 1981.

Yost was also attorney of the Guam Preservation Trust in their lawsuit against DOD.

According to Dentons, Yost’s responsibilities under the president included lead responsibility for the development and drafting of the regulations that implement the NEPA and its environmental impact statement requirement throughout the federal government.

The administration last Friday disclosed that they had “selected the best possible and responsive bidder under the Scope of Work for the [CNMI Joint Military Training draft environmental impact statement] Consultant.”

Once a deal is finalized, Dentons will have until Aug. 4—the end of the extended comment period on the EIS—to help prepare the CNMI’s response to military activity inclusive of the whole leasing of Pagan, the dredging of coral reef on Tinian, and the use of high impact live-fire and bombs on these islands.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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