Marianas Variety

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    Sunday, December 17, 2017-7:05:01P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Navy: Environmental group’s claims inaccurate

THE U.S. Department of the Navy has denied the claims of Earthjustice, saying it is complying with the Endangered Species Act or ESA.

Lt. Tim Gorman, spokesman for the Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs Office, said in a statement to Variety that Earthjustice claims that “had citizens not taken action to hold the Navy accountable, it’s doubtful the Navy would have ever scrutinized the threats its actions pose to these species.”

This is inaccurate, he added.

“The Navy is fully aware of its ongoing obligations under the ESA and has had an ongoing dialogue with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the new species since they were proposed for listing in October 2014,” Gorman said.

He added that immediately after the proposed listing, the Navy contracted with experts to conduct surveys to locate the new species so that the Navy could assess the potential effects of its proposed activities on them.

“Based on these survey results and Navy’s subsequent analysis following the USFWS final listing decision in October 2015, the Navy is determined to consult with USFWS,” he said.

“The letter by Earthjustice did not prompt something not already in process by the Navy,” Gorman added.

In February, Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to the Navy and the USFWS giving notice of their intent to sue them for alleged violations of the ESA during the implementation of the Mariana Islands Training and Testing Program.

Earthjustice through counsel David Henkin alleged in the letter that the Navy and the USFWS violated ESA by arguing that the newly listed species should have reinitiated consultation between the USFWS and the Navy.