District Court “Not Inclined” To Grant U.S. EPA’s Request for Hearing On WorkForce Village

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Guam -District Court Judge Francis Tydingco-Gatewood is “not inclined” to grant U.S. EPA’s request to closley monitor permitting decisions by DPW, GWA and Guam EPA on the Younex WorkForce Village Project or “any other project.”

In her order issued Wednesday, the Judge wrote it is “neither appropriate nor timely for this court to become integrally involved in the day to day activities of Guam’s Governmental Agencies.”

Read the District Court Order

And she expressed confidence that U.S. EPA “is capable of ensuring GWA’s complaince with the Clean Water Act” without her close supervison.

The ruling favors Assistant Guam Attorney General Kathy Fokas who on  Monday filed a fiesty brief with the court which essentaily called on the U.S. EPA to back off,  and accused the Federal Agency of “seeking to control the local building permit application process on Guam.”

Read the Guam AG’s response to U.S. EPA filed Monday in District Court

Fokas called the U.S. EPA’s requests “clearly beyond its authority and against the fundamental principals of federalism.” And she asked the District Court to deny the U.S. EPA’s request “to schedule a hearing … on purley local matters regarding a building permit which has not yet been issued and the application for which is currently being reviewed by the relevant local agencies.”

Fokas’ reply to the court followed an equally strongly worded brief filed last month by the U.S. EPA in which Justice Department Attorney Robert Mullaney threatened an injunction against the Younex Workforce Village. And he asked the Guam District Court to “closely monitor all building permit applications on Guam that may impact Guam Waterworks Authority’s water supply or wastewater treatment capacity.”

Read DoJ’s response filed September 25th

In her order today, Judge Tydingco-Gatewood attempts to de-escalate the rhetoric by urging both sides to work together to resolve their concerns over the permitting process for the village and its impact on the Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“At this juncture,” writes the Judge “the court finds that it is better for the parties to work collaboratively in addressing these challenges.”

These exchanges have occurred in the Court’s ongoing supervision of  the Consent Decree which mandates the Guam Waterworks Authority’s compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act.

Judge Tydingco-Gatewood’s Wednesday re-schedules the next Quarterly Status hearing in this case from November 10 to November 17.

“At that time,” writes the Judge “the court will address the status of the projects as they relate to the Stipulated Order, and any violations for which USEPA has support.”