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    Thursday, October 18, 2018-11:15:36P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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‘We don’t want the people of Tinian and Pagan to suffer,’ says Earthjustice lawyer

ATTORNEY David Henkin of Earthjustice accused the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of the Navy of not taking a hard look at the full impact of the training that the U.S. Marines  need to do in the Northern Marianas.

“Once the missiles are in the air you don’t wait for them to land to complain about it, you take action now,” Henkin said in an interview after a hearing, Thursday, at the District Court for the NMI.

With local attorney Kimberlyn King-Hinds, Henkin is representing the Tinian Women’s Association, the Guardians of Gani, Pagan Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity in their lawsuit against the large-scale effort by the Navy and DOD to relocate several thousand U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, and the Marine Corps’ plan to conduct live-fire training in the NMI

“We don’t want ‘the die to be cast’ and have the people of Tinian and Pagan suffer,” Henkin said.

“The Navy knew that if Marines are stationed on Guam, they are going to do a host of very destructive training activity, with artillery, with mortars, with rockets, with ship-to-shore shelling, with amphibious assault —  that it’s going to happen right here in the NMI, and none of that was disclosed before the Navy made the decision to move the Marines to Guam.”

He added,  “The Navy made the decision to move the Marines to Guam, and that is what we are challenging.”

He said the plaintiffs are “taking action now and hope to get a better decision — one that will create a future for the NMI.”

Earthjustice lawyer David Henkin with local attorney Kimberlyn King-Hinds and the representatives of the Tinian Women’s Association, the Guardians of Gani, Pagan Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity outside Horiguchi Building in Garapan, Thursday.  Photo by Bryan ManabatEarthjustice lawyer David Henkin with local attorney Kimberlyn King-Hinds and the representatives of the Tinian Women’s Association, the Guardians of Gani, Pagan Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity outside Horiguchi Building in Garapan, Thursday. Photo by Bryan Manabat

According to Henkin,  “You don’t burn a village to save it. What they (the military) are talking about is laying waste to two islands,” referring to Tinian and Pagan.

“Before the Navy makes a decision to do that, it has an obligation to provide a full accounting of what it has in mind, and what the effects will be to the people of the NMI.”

The environmental groups  want the court to find that the Navy and DOD violated the law, and that  the people of the NMI must be heard on the issue of the Marine relocation.

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona also heard the arguments of DOD and the Navy which were represented by U.S. Department of Justice attorneys.

The pre-trial motions of parties we taken under advisement by the judge who said she will issue an order promptly.

Asked for a short statement after the hearing, Joshua Wilson, U.S. Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division trial attorney, said: “What needs to be said has been said, and it’s on the record — there is nothing further to be said.”

DOD and the Navy have asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. According to the defendants, the lawsuit presents a political question because the U.S. executive branch decided to relocate the Marines as part of a treaty negotiated with Japan.