Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Federal Court Ruling May Affect Buildup

Federal Court Ruling May Affect In Military Buildup
Pacific News Center Staff Reporter

7:33 p.m. Guam - Although the U.S. military is going ahead with plans to move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2015, a recent U.S. District Court ruling may throw a wrench into those plans. Retired Maj. Gen. David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, said as much in an interview with Ray Gibson on The Breakfast Show this morning.

At issue of this possible scenario is the dugong, a large marine mammal whose only habitat in Japan is close to a nearby reef in Okinawa. According to Bice, the agreement between the U.S. and Japan calls for an alternate air base to be built close to that reef in order for the Marines to be able to move to Guam.

But in January, Bice said, American and Japanese conservation groups won a lawsuit favoring the preservation of the dugong. A federal district court judge in San Francisco ruled that the U.S. military must ensure the endangered mammal would not be harmed before it builds the air base. He also ordered the military to do an environmental study on the impact of the construction on the dugong, saying the military violated the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires U.S. agencies to consider impacts in other nations when undertaking activities outside the Untied States.

General Bice said Japan is already doing an environmental impact assessment on the air base construction that is expected to be completed in 2009. In the meantime, Bice said, the military would show the judge what the Japanese are doing in their own territorial waters to protect the dugong. If only for this, Bice said, he does not yet see the ruling as having any critical impact on the move of the Marines to Guam. But, he added, this may changed if the air base is not allowed to be built.

Here is the interview aired on Newstalk K57.
Click here to download the podcast

- Pacific News Center - Guam, Saipan, CNMI, Asia-Pacific

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