Guam – The Guam Preservation Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and We Are Guahan have filed suit against the federal government for it’s plans to use the ancient Pagat village as a firing range.
“We were hoping not to come to this juncture but we have to they have not listened to us they have not taken any action to what we would like to see and so now we come to this juncture to say enough is enough,” said Guam Historic Preservation Trust Director Joe Quinata.
The Guam Preservation Trust and We Are Guahan have tried for months now to convince DOD that Pagat was not the right place to put a firing range for cultural, historical and environmental reasons. A lawsuit was the last resort and today in the historic Lujan house in Hagatna they announced the filing of a suit in the district court of Hawaii for injuctive and declaratory relief against the military’s plans to use Pagat as a firing range complex. “This action does not challenge the buildup itself but seeks to compel the Department of Defense to comply with the National Environmental Policy act or NEPA and the National Historic Preservation Act by giving adequate consideration to alternative locations to the firing ranges as mandated by law,” explained Quinata.
This is the basis of their lawsuit essentially that DOD did not adequately consider all the other alternatives for the firing range complex. In fact the Final EIS shows that four of the five firing ranges could have fit on Andersen Air Force base and the fifth one could fit at the NorthWest field.
They were joined via video conference by Dr. Harding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and their attorneys from SNR Denton namely, Mathew Adams and Nick Yost. Yost was an attorney for the whitehouse’s council on environmental quality during the Carter administration. He also helped draft the rules and regulations for the NEPA act. “I’ve done a lot of cases since I wrote those NEPA regulations 30 some years ago and this is a very strong case,” said Yost.
They are launching a sort of three pronged legal attack on the basis that DOD did not meet the requirements of NEPA, NHPA, or the Coastal Zone Management act. As for NEPA, Yost says that it requires DOD to look at all the alternatives and he says they simply didn’t. As for the NHPA or National Historic Preservation Act Yost says that DOD failed to execute a programmatic agreement prior to the release of the record of decision. Finally with coastal zone management Yost explains that the plans for Pagat do not mesh with Guam’s coastal zone management plans as is required by law. These are just the principal violations, Yost says there is a whole series of violations committed by DOD that are spelled out in the lawsuit. We are Guahan’s Leevin Camacho made it clear that this lawsuit is in essence a statement that they will not stand idly by. “Pagat is the most glaring example of how DOD made it’s decision a long time ago about how the buildup is going to proceed and litigation is never what you want to do and I say that as a lawyer but i hope this sends a message that the people of Guam are not going to sit by as bystanders on our own island and we’re going to do everything we can to protect our home including legal action.”
The suit was filed in the district court of Hawaii and and the case will have a scheduling conference at 9am on February 14th.