Guam gains support of 26 AGs in Ordot Dump case before US Supreme Court

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Guam is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to reverse a lower court’s decision that would prohibit Guam from pursuing a claim against the Navy to contribute to the cost of cleaning Ordot Dump under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). (PNC file photo)

A bipartisan coalition of 26 attorneys general led by Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI) Attorney General Edward Manibusan filed an amicus brief today in support of Guam’s efforts to hold the U.S. Navy accountable for its share of the costs in cleaning up the Ordot Dump. An amicus curiae, or friend of the court, is a person or interested party who has strong interests or views on a subject matter of public interest.

The amicus effort was joined by attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, the District of
Columbia, Delaware, Hawai’i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts,
Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon,
Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Guam is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to reverse a lower court’s decision
that would prohibit Guam from pursuing a claim against the Navy to contribute to the cost
of cleaning Ordot Dump under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Guam and the Navy entered into a settlement agreement in 2004 under the Clean Water
Act, a law separate and apart from CERCLA. Guam subsequently pursued a CERCLA claim against the Navy but the District of Columbia Court of Appeals held that even a non-CERCLA settlement agreement starts the clock on the timeline to file a claim under CERCLA, and that Guam’s CERCLA claim was too late.

Guam is appealing this decision arguing that a non-CERCLA settlement agreement should not affect the CERCLA claims timeline. If Guam’s CERCLA claim is allowed to proceed, Guam will have a chance at seeking payment from the Navy for its role in contaminating Guam’s land and waters.

The coalition cited “the compelling interests in supporting the Government of Guam,” which includes their interests in encouraging the timely cleanup of contaminated sites within their borders, ensuring that the United States pays its fair share, and upholding their preferred state-law approaches to cleanup of and contribution to environmental contamination.

“The widespread bipartisan support we’ve received shows that the Ordot Dump case raises issues of local and national importance,” said Attorney General Leevin T. Camacho. “We are extremely thankful to all the attorneys general for their support, and especially General Manibusan and his team for leading this effort.”

“This is one example of how Guam’s voice can be amplified by building strong relationships with attorneys generals and their teams around the country,” said Attorney General Camacho.

All territorial and state attorneys general are members of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). AG Camacho has been an active member of NAAG since the start of his term in 2019. Last year, Attorney General Camacho was appointed to serve on the NAAG Executive Committee. He was the first elected Attorney General from Guam to hold this position.

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