PaganWatch co-founder Cinta Kaipat said they are disappointed with the U.S. District Court’s ruling over the group’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of the Navy, they “respectfully” disagrees with it, and that they are looking at their options, including appealing the ruling.
“People of the Northern Islands will continue to oppose the relocation as it poses an existential threat to the residents of the Commonwealth,” Kaipat said.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona had ruled Wednesday last week that the Defense and the Navy did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act or the Administrative Procedure Act when they decided to relocate the U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam—as alleged by PaganWatch and three other environmental groups.
Kaipat said Friday that, at this point, they are considering an appeal. She said they let their lawyers make the decision whether to file a motion for reconsideration first before bringing the matter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
“We just know that we are not going to just walk away,” said Kaipat, a former assistant attorney general and currently a Marianas Visitors Authority board member.
In her ruling, 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.”
“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 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.
PaganWatch, the Tinian Women Association, Guardians of Gani, and the Center for Biological Diversity are suing Navy and Defense and their top officials for alleged violation of NEPA and 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 the 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.