Earthjustice on Mākua
David Henkin, an attorney with Earthjustice, has represented Mālama Mākua in the struggle to protect, preserve and return sacred Mākua since shortly after Mālama Mākua was formed in 1996. The organization has won landmark victories against the United States army in court, and looks forward to the day when Mākua is returned and the need to return to court is no longer a possibility. Below are Earthjustice court filings, press releases and articles about the involvement over the past two decades of Earthjustice, formerly Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, in the fight to save Mākua. Click on the green headlines to read the complete documents.
Story appeared in Honolulu Star-Advertiser as “Name in the News: Isaac Moriwake,” March 8, 2019
Isaac Moriwake spoke with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about climate change, water rights, and how you can lose the battle but win the war. The managing attorney for Ejʻs Hawaiʻi office counts the ending of military live-fire training in Mākua as one of the biggest victories in the officeʻs 30-year history.
By Earthjustice - 2018
Whatʻs at Stake: A culturally and ecologically important area, Mākua is home to scores of ancient Hawaiian artifacts, cultural sites and nearly 50 endangered plants and animals.
court order signed by judge Susan oki Mollway
Legal Document - August 3, 2018
Mālama Mākua, a Hawaiʻi non-profit, Plaintiff, v. James Mattis, Secretary of Defense; and Mark Esper, Secretary of the United States Army, Defendants. Joint Stipulation To Settle Plaintiffʻs Complaint.
Celebrating the 30th Anniversary at Earthjusticeʻs Mid-Pacific Office
The Hawaiian Islands are home to a natural and cultural heritage found nowhere else in the world. And for 30 years, Earthjustice’s Mid-Pacific Office has fought to defend what makes Hawai‘i special.
By Amarachi Metu - July 9, 2018
Earthjustice has asked the court to halt construction of a U.S. military base until the Department of Defense complies with laws dealing with preservation.
Press Release - November 7, 2016
Today, Mālama Mākua, represented by Earthjustice, took the U.S. Armyback to court for violating cultural access rights to sacred sites at Mākua Military Reservation on O‘ahu. The reservation contains 100 sites eligible for listing on the national historic register, including Hawaiian temples, shrines, petroglyphs and other historical and cultural sites.
Mālama Mākua secured the right to access these sites as part of a 2001 settlement over military training on the reservation, and exercised that right routinely until June 2014, when the Army suddenly cut off access, claiming it needed a National Historic Preservation Act memorandum of agreement (MOA) to continue cutting grass on trails leading to cultural sites so that any unexploded ordinance could be avoided. Though that MOA was obtained in September 2015, the Army has yet to allow access to any cultural sites to resume.
Legal Document - November 7, 2016
Mālama Mākua, a Hawaiʻi non-profit, Plaintiff, v. Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense; and Eric Fanning, Secretary of the United States, Defendants. Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief Re: Defendantsʻ Denial of Access to Cultural Sites and Other Areas at Mākua Military Reservation.
By Tom Turner - November 24, 2014
…Recently, Earthjustice sued again to challenge a new Navy five-year sonar plan, arguing that the plan violates three federal statutes. By the Navy’s and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s own estimates, the exercises will involve a quarter of a million explosions that, along with vessel strikes and sonar damage, are expected to kill about 155 marine mammal and cause about 2,000 permanent injuries of various kinds. The suit argues that there are other ways to achieve the Navy’s stated objectives… Says [Earthjustice attorney David] Henkin, “The Army similarly claimed that live-fire training at Mākua was vital to national security, yet, despite a ban on such training for 13 of the last 16 years (during which time Hawai‘i-based soldiers repeatedly and successfully deployed to combat in Afghanistan and Iraq), the Republic is still standing.”
Press Release - June 21, 2012
Yesterday, U.S. District Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway issued an order confirming that no live-fire training may take place at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR) on Oʻahu until the Army completes new studies of potential military contamination of marine resources at Mākua and new surveys of Native Hawaiian cultural sites at risk of destruction from military training. Judge Mollway previously found that the Army’s failure to carry out these studies violated two court-ordered settlements with Mālama Mākua…
Press Release - October 3, 2011
On Friday, U.S. District Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled that the Army breached a court-ordered settlement “by failing to test limu (seaweed) and other marine resources that are eaten by residents of the Waianae Coast to evaluate whether they posed a human health risk” due to contamination from military activities at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR). Judge Mollway concluded that the Army’s breach deprived “area residents ... of actual [contamination] data” about commonly consumed marine resources like octopus and sea cucumbers. She further found that, because the Army tested only species of limu that Wai‘anae Coast families do not eat, its “conclusion regarding the human health risks presented by limu actually eaten by area residents lacks any meaning.”
By Earthjustice attorney David Henkin - February 17, 2011
The Army’s announcement in January that it is abandoning plans to resume the most destructive type of live-fire training at Makua Military Reservation on O‘ahu represents a major step forward in Earthjustice’s longstanding effort to protect Makua’s unique biological and cultural treasures.
Mākua, which means “parents” in Hawaiian, is home to more than 40 federally listed endangered species – some found nowhere else in the world – and more than 100 Native Hawaiian cultural sites, including heiau (Hawaiian temples), ahu (altars), burials and petroglyphs.
Press Release - October 27, 2010
Today, U.S. District Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled that the Army failed to give the community crucial information on how military training at Mākua Military Reservation on O‘ahu could damage Native Hawaiian cultural sites and contaminate marine resources on which area residents rely for subsistence.
Mālama Mākua, represented by Earthjustice, filed suit in August 2009 to set aside the Army’s environmental impact statement (EIS) for proposed military training at Mākua until it completes key marine contamination studies and archaeological surveys. The Army was required to complete the studies by an October 2001 settlement of Mālama Mākua’s earlier lawsuit challenging the Army’s failure to prepare an EIS for Mākua, as well as a related settlement in January 2007.
Press Release - November 19, 2009
Yesterday, U.S. District Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled that the Army is obliged to give the community meaningful information on how military training at Makua Military Reservation ("MMR") on O'ahu could damage Native Hawaiian cultural sites and contaminate marine resources on which area residents rely for subsistence.
By Terry Winckler - November 10, 2009
Earthjustice attorney David Henkin [who represents Mālama Mākua] is giving the keynote address this month at the United Nations Environmental Program workshop in Okinawa on the military and the environment. Here's a glimpse of what he will discuss…
Press Release - August 12, 2009
Mālama Mākua, represented by Earthjustice, has asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai'i to set aside the Army's environmental impact statement (EIS) for proposed military training at Mākua Military Reservation because the Army failed to prepare key contamination studies and archaeological surveys. Mālama Mākua also seeks to prevent the Army from resuming live-fire training at Makua until it completes a revised EIS that contains the studies. The Army was required to prepare the studies by an October 2001 settlement of Mālama Mākua's earlier lawsuit challenging the Army's failure to prepare an EIS for āakua, as well as a related settlement in January 2007.
Legal Document - August 12, 2009
Mālama Mākua, a Hawaiʻi non-profit, Plaintiff v. Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense; and Pete Geren, Secretary of the United States Department of the Army, Defendants. Complaint for Declaratory Judgement and Injunctive Relief Re: Defendantsʻ Failure to Complete Studies Mandated Under 2001 and 2007 Settlement Agreements.
Press Release - January 23, 2009
The Army must "provide meaningful opportunities for the people of the Wai'anae Coast to participate in identifying and prioritizing" cultural sites to be cleared of unexploded ordnance at Makua Military Reservation ("MMR") on O'ahu and "focus on increasing access to cultural sites."
The court held that, in finalizing its list of high priority sites on April 22, 2008, over five and a half years after the settlement's October 4, 2002 deadline, the Army improperly relied on outdated information and excluded public participation.
The court stressed:
"if Defendants were allowed to identify the high priority sites in 2008 based on information available in 2002, they would have gained years of noncompliance at no cost to Defendants," "exacerbat[ing] their unjust enrichment."
Legal Document - January 23, 2009
Mālama Mākua, a Hawaiʻi non-profit corporation, Plaintiff vs. Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense; and Pete Geren, Secretary of the United States Department of the Army, Defendants. Order Clarifying Remedy for DefendantsʻPreviously Determined Breach of Paragraph 8(B) of the Settlement Agreement; Order Denying Plaintiffʻs Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement; Order Denying Defendantsʻ Motion for Summary Judgment.
Press Release - March 13, 2008
Today, Native Hawaiian groups notified the U.S. Army that its refusal to address the impacts of stationing a Stryker brigade in Hawai'i on sacred sites and endangered species at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR) on O'ahu violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The groups sent the notice in response to the Army's February 2008 final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Stryker brigade, which merely claimed the brigade would not need to train at MMR.
"The Army ignores that stationing the brigade here will have the domino effect of forcing other military units to train at Mākua, leading to the destruction of sacred sites and endangered species," said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin, who represents the organizations Mālama Mākua, ʻIlioʻulaokalani Coalition, and Na ʻImi Pono. "NEPA prohibits the Army from covering up these significant threats to Hawai'i's cultural and natural heritage."
Press Release - March 11, 2008
The U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai'i has ordered the U.S. Army to move quickly to expand cultural access to Native Hawaiian sites at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR) on O'ahu, as required under an October 4, 2001 settlement with community group Mālama Mākua, represented by Earthjustice. The court held the Army was over five years late in meeting the settlement's October 4, 2002 deadline to identify high priority areas at MMR for unexploded ordnance clearance to increase access to cultural sites and also had violated its duty to "make good faith efforts promptly to develop a plan" and secure funding to clear those high priority areas. The court ordered the Army to identify the high priority areas by April 15, 2008, and to provide a "good faith" plan to clear unexploded ordnance from the high priority sites, including a proposed schedule for site clearance, by July 15, 2008.
By Tom Turner - February 26, 2008
That leaves eleven months to go, and the administration seems hell-bent on ratcheting up the pace of its assault as the public becomes a tad outrage-weary and hopes that whoever eventually wins a ticket to the White House can't possibly be as bad as what we've suffered through for seven long years.
Do I exaggerate? Here's a bit of what happened in Month 85:
The Army, having promised to reopen Native Hawaiian sacred sites on the Makua reservation on O'ahu, breaks the promise…
Press Release - February 20, 2008
Today, community group Mālama Mākua, represented by Earthjustice, asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai'i to order the U.S. Army to move quickly to expand cultural access to Native Hawaiian sites at Mākua Military Reservation on O'ahu, as required under the October 4, 2001 settlement that resolved Mālama Mākua's lawsuit challenging the Army's failure to prepare an environmental impact statement for training at Mākua. Instead of clearing unexploded ordnance to open new sites to cultural access, as the settlement requires, the Army has, since February 2005, used the possible presence of unexploded ordnance as an excuse to eliminate nearly all access. After years of fruitless negotiations with the Army, Mālama Mākua is seeking the court's assistance to compel the Army to keep the promises it made when it voluntarily entered into the settlement.
Press Release - November 17, 2007
Since 6 p.m. on Friday, November 16, 2007, community groups Mālama Mākua and Hui Mālama 'O Mākua and their supporters have held a vigil outside the gates of Mākua Military Reservation on O'ahu, protesting the Army's failure to remove a World War II-vintage, 250-pound bomb the Army claims threatens public safety on Farrington Highway and at Mākua Beach Park. The vigil is being held during the time originally scheduled for observance at Mākua of the opening of the Makahiki, the traditional Hawaiian celebration of the time of peace, pursuant to an October 4, 2001 settlement agreement between the Army and Mālama Mākua (represented by Earthjustice) that guarantees cultural access. The Army canceled the cultural access following the bomb's discovery on November 1, 2007, due to alleged safety concerns, but has refused to remove the bomb or, even, make plans for its disposal.
Map downloaded by OHA from USGS Hawaiʻi Data Clearinghouse website - November 16, 2007
Click on the link to see a map of the extremely large exclusion zone generated after the finding of a 250-pound bomb in sacred Mākua Valley in late 2007. In this case, a military exclusion zone is an area established to prevent entry of civilians or unauthorized personnel for safety purposes. The 250-pound bomb was eventually dealt with by the military, which finally eliminated a threat to the public from this situation.
Press Release - February 3, 2006
The U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai'i issued an order Thursday denying the U.S. Army's request to conduct live-fire training exercises at Mākua Military Reservation on O'ahu prior to completing a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). On October 4, 2001, the Army voluntarily entered into a settlement with community group Mālama Mākua calling for a complete ban on live-fire training at Mākua if it did not complete the EIS by October 4, 2004. Since the Army is more than a year late in completing the EIS, the court held that, "[h]aving failed to satisfy the law, the Army may not resume live fire training at Mākua."
Legal Document - January 10, 2006
Mālama Mākua, a Hawaiʻi non-profit corporation, Plaintiff vs. Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense; and Les Brownlee, Acting Secretary of the United States Department of the Army, Defendants. Order Granting Plaintiffʻs Motion For A Temporary Restraining Order.
Press Release - July 21, 2005
The Army is continuing to violate its commitment to perform comprehensive archeological investigations of areas at the Mākua Military Reservation on O'ahu, according to a new government document received by Earthjustice. The document, a draft environmental impact statement for military training at the live-fire training facility, also shows the military has broken its promise to the Wai'anae community to consider training locations other than Mākua.
The draft EIS is the result of an October 2001 settlement agreement between the Army and Mālama Mākua (represented by Earthjustice). Earthjustice secured an advanced copy of the draft EIS earlier this week. It reveals the Army has failed to conduct archeological surveys of all areas within Mākua's Company Combined-Arms Assault Course ("CCAAC") and of areas outside the CCAAC that might be hit by artillery and mortar shells, in violation of the 2001 settlement. The Army has also refused to consider locations other than Mākua, where live-fire training could be conducted with less harm to irreplaceable cultural and biological resources, violating both its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act and its promises during public scoping for the EIS in 2002 that it would explore such alternatives.
Press Release - March 31, 2004
Under the agreement, the military would not conduct any prescribed burns and would severely limit its use of mortars, rockets and other weapons posing substantial risk of starting fires until the Army completes its consultation with the Service regarding the overall impact of military activities at MMR on the forty-five endangered and threatened species and hundreds of acres of critical habitat present in the area. Should the court approve the settlement, the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Susan Oki Mollway on March 19, 2004 would be lifted, and the Marines would be allowed to proceed with an announced five-day live-fire exercise beginning April 5, 2004, subject to the agreement's limitations on training.
Press Release - March 22, 2004
A federal judge has ruled plans by the United States Marines to conduct live-fire training at Mākua Valley on O`ahu must be halted. A hearing has been scheduled for April 19 to consider a preliminary injunction to protect species in the valley pending final resolution of the case. U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway granted a request late March 19 for a temporary restraining order in response to a complaint filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Mālama Mākua.
The complaint argued the live-fire exercises have the potential to start catastrophic fires and potentially wipe out endangered species that exist nowhere else on the planet. The court agreed that, pending further review of these claims, the Marines' training should be enjoined.
Press Release - March 16, 2004
Last night, Wai'anae Coast community group Mālama Mākua, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in Hawai'i's federal district court challenging the Army's decision to allow the Marines to conduct live-fire training exercises in Mākua Valley the week of March 22, 2004, using mortars and shoulder-launched rockets that pose serious risks of starting fires. The suit seeks to stop such activities, and all others with the potential to start fires, until the Army completes the ongoing "consultation" process with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service mandated by the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") to avoid irreparable harm to dozens of critically endangered species in the valley and their critical habitat. Judge Susan Oki Mollway will hold a hearing on Mālama Mākua's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on Thursday, March 18, 2004, at 3:00 p.m.
Press Release - December 4, 2003
Today, Earthjustice, representing Wai`anae Coast community group Mālama Mākua, reached agreement with the U.S. Army to allow convoy ambush exercises starting Monday, December 8, 2003, at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR) on O`ahu. The agreement permits realistic training for 25th Infantry Division soldiers scheduled to be deployed overseas, while limiting the threats to Mākua's scores of cultural sites and more than 40 endangered species by prohibiting use of artillery or mortars. The agreement must be approved by the Hawai'i district court since it proposes changes to an October 4, 2001, settlement in a suit Earthjustice brought on behalf of Mālama Mākua in 2000 to challenge the Army's failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. The court order entering the settlement strictly limits training at MMR pending preparation of an environmental impact statement.
Press Release - September 15, 2003
Earthjustice sent a letter on behalf of Wai`anae Coast community group Mālama Mākua notifying the United States Army ("Army") of the group's intent to sue for violations of the federal Endangered Species Act ("ESA") unless the Army promptly reinitiates formal consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") to assess potential impacts of military activities at Mākua Military Reservation ("MMR") on more than 40 endangered plant and animal species. The ESA requires the Army to reinitiate such formal consultation based on the "new information" provided by the catastrophic fire at MMR set by the Army on July 22, 2003, which burned much of MMR and destroyed at least 71 individual endangered plants and 150 acres of designated critical habitat (areas essential to species recovery) for the endangered O`ahu `elepaio (a forest bird) and endangered plants. Reinitiation of formal consultation is also required due to the designation on June 17, 2003 of critical habitat for at least 35 species of endangered plants on MMR's borders, some of which burned during the July 2003 fire. To date, the Army has refused to comply with the legal mandate to reinitiate formal consultation, despite repeated requests from the community to do so.
Press Release - July 24, 2003
This week, a "controlled burn" at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR) on O`ahu – intentionally set by the U.S. Army to clear vegetation – went out of control, burning at least 2500 acres, including areas occupied by federally listed endangered plants and animals, as well as scores of cultural sites eligible for the National Historic Register. The blaze jumped the Army's firebreak roads, burning to the ridges surrounding MMR, and crossed Farrington Highway at several locations. The fire – still burning as of mid-day today – demonstrates the inadequacy of the Army's Fire Management Plan, which was developed to protect the biological and cultural treasures at Mākua. It also underscores the need for careful review of the Army's activities at MMR under both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA), as advocated by Earthjustice and Wai`anae Coast community group Mālama Mākua.
"This is like a bad case of deja vu," said Fred Dodge, Mālama Mākua board member. "In June 1995, another so-called 'controlled' burn charred nearly 2500 acres in the valley. The Army said it couldn't possibly happen again, that they had made improvements in firefighting. But this is even worse. The 1995 burn took place outside the firebreak roads; here, the Army couldn't even control a blaze set inside the firebreak."
Press Release - August 12, 2002
Experts in the fields of geochemistry, hydrology, soil science, air pollution, and civil engineering have roundly criticized studies the U.S. Army plans to carry out at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR) on O`ahu to address community concerns about contamination associated with live-fire training at MMR. In response to an Army request for comments on the study work plans, the experts all came to the same conclusion, agreeing with University of Hawai'i soil scientist Dr. Goro Uehara that, as currently designed, the proposed studies "will not enable decision makers to render a verdict on the impact of military activities on long term environmental health."
A major flaw in the ground water and surface water contamination studies is timing. While the settlement gives the Army until October 2004 to complete the EIS, the work plan seeks to finalize the EIS one and one-half years early (by April 2003), at which time only half of the planned ground water sampling would be completed. William Meyer (hydrologist and former head of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawai'i District Office) noted that the proposed schedule reflects "a nearly complete disconnect between time allocated for the collection of field data and the planned use of this data for characterizing field conditions in the MMR."
Regarding the surface water contamination study, Mr. Meyer observed that, given MMR's arid conditions, "[i]t is highly possible that there will be no runoff events prior to the release of [the final EIS] or that what runoff events that do occur will not be of a significant nature." University of Hawai'i geochemist Dr. Eric De Carlo agreed: "The study cannot achieve its objectives in absence of data obtained from stream sampling."
Press Release - July 9, 2002
Click on the link to read a transcript of the U.S. Congressional testimony of David Henkin, the Earthjustice attorney representing Mālama Mākua. Henkin testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee regarding the exemptions proposed in the Department of Defense's Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative and Senate Bill 2225.
Press Release - October 4, 2001
Mālama Mākua, represented by Earthjustice, and the U.S. Army filed a settlement today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai'i, bringing to a successful conclusion Mālama Mākua's three-year legal effort to compel the Army to prepare a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act for live-fire training exercises at Makua Military Reservation on O`ahu. In recognition of the potentially increased need for training as a result of recent events, the settlement allows the Army to conduct limited live-fire training during the preparation of the EIS.
Press Release - July 20, 2001
This week, Judge Susan Oki Mollway of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai'i issued an order barring the U.S. Army from conducting live- fire training exercises at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR) on O`ahu pending a final decision on whether the Army must prepare a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Judge Mollway's order granted the preliminary injunction that Mālama Mākua had requested at a hearing last Monday (July 9, 2001). Represented by Earthjustice, Mālama Mākua filed suit in December 2000, challenging the Army's refusal to prepare an EIS for proposed live-fire training at MMR and its claim that training would not significantly affect neighboring communities or the 45 endangered and threatened species and dozens of sacred and cultural sites found at Mākua.
"The court agreed with what we've been saying all along, that the Army's own studies reveal the potential for significant impacts on the environment, which is all the law requires before an EIS is necessary," said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin. "We're pleased Judge Mollway looked beyond the Army's rhetoric about national security and based her decision on the evidence before her. That evidence shows that there will be no significant harm to military preparedness from barring training at Mākua for a few more months, but that letting the Army conduct live-fire training before Mālama Mākua has its day in court would threaten irreparable environmental harm to irreplaceable biological and cultural treasures."
Press Release - May 16, 2001
Mālama Mākua, represented by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, will return to court to challenge the US Army's claim that resuming live-fire training and related activities at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR) on O`ahu would have no significant impact on the more than 40 endangered species and dozens of sacred and cultural sites found at Makua and on neighboring communities. Yesterday, the Army issued a final Environmental Assessment (EA) and announced its finding of no significant impact (FONSI), which constitutes the Army's determination that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is not required and that it may resume training. Under a prior settlement agreement with Mālama Mākua, the Army must wait at least 30 days from the issuance of the FONSI to resume training. Mālama Mākua intends to file a motion for preliminary injunction so that a hearing can be scheduled in a timely manner prior to any resumption of live-fire training.
"The Army's claim that it can do live-fire training at Mākua without significant impacts is an insult to the people of the Wai`anae Coast, who have witnessed the devastation that military training inflicts," said Leandra Wai, president of Mālama Mākua. "We have seen our churches and heiau bombed, our native forests burned, our endangered species destroyed, the bones of our ancestors desecrated, our soil contaminated, our fishing grounds polluted, and a growing population of sick people. If that's not significant, I don't know what is."
Press Release - December 20, 2000
Today, Mālama Mākua, represented by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, filed suit against the U.S. Army, once again seeking an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for training and related activities at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR) on O`ahu. On December 15, the Army had announced its finding of no significant impact (FONSI), which constitutes the Army's determination that an EIS is not required and that it may resume training. Under a prior settlement agreement with Mālama Mākua, the Army must wait at least 30 days from the issuance of the FONSI to resume training. Mālama Mākua filed its complaint and motion for preliminary injunction today so that a hearing could be scheduled in a timely manner prior to any resumption of live-fire training.
Press Release - June 26, 2000
In a ruling from the bench this morning, Judge Helen Gillmor of the federal district court in Honolulu ordered the Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") to designate critical habitat for the O`ahu `elepaio (a native forest bird) by October 31, 2001, rejecting the federal defendants' request to delay designation until October 2004. The court's ruling brings to a successful close a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund on behalf of the Conservation Council for Hawai'i (CCH) to secure protection for this critically imperiled bird under the federal Endangered Species Act.
"We're pleased that the court recognized the need to hold the Service's feet to the fire on this one," said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin. "We don't have many native forest birds left on O`ahu, and we need to protect the elepaio's critical habitat if we want to have a fighting chance to save this one."
Press Release - April 18, 2000
As a result of a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund on behalf of the Conservation Council for Hawai'i (CCH), the critically imperiled O`ahu `elepaio (a native forest bird) is finally benefiting from protection under the federal Endangered Species Act ("ESA"). On January 3, 2000, CCH filed suit against the Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") to compel the Service to take final action on a proposed rule to add the O`ahu `elepaio to the endangered species list. Sightings of the O`ahu `elepaio -- once abundant in forested areas throughout O`ahu -- have plummeted in recent years, with only an estimated 1,500 birds remaining, and the bird now occupies only about 4 percent of its original, historic range. The bird's dramatic decline prompted the Service to propose the O`ahu `elepaio for listing as endangered on October 6, 1998, but the Service then failed to comply with the ESA's strict mandate to finalize this proposal within one year. As a result of a settlement reached in February 2000, the Service published a final rule today listing the O`ahu `elepaio as an endangered species.
Press Release - January 3, 2000
Conservation Council for Hawai'i ("CCH"), represented by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, filed suit in federal district court today against Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior, and Jamie Rappaport Clark, Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service"), to compel them to finalize a proposed rule to list the O`ahu `elepaio, a native forest bird, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"). The Service published a proposed rule to list the O`ahu 'elepaio on October 6, 1998, but failed to comply with the ESA's strict mandate to finalize the proposal within one year. On October 26, 1999, CCH sent a letter to Secretary Babbitt and Director Clark warning that, unless they promptly finalized the proposed rule to list the O`ahu `elepaio, CCH would sue to compel them to do so.
Press Release - September 27, 1999
Today, Mālama Mākua, represented by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, and the U.S. Army settled a lawsuit filed in October 1998 to compel the Army's compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for training and related activities at Mākua Military Reservation (MMR) on O`ahu. NEPA requires federal agencies like the Army to take a hard look at potential environmental impacts before taking actions that might cause significant environmental harm. Under today's settlement, the Army agreed that it will not conduct any training at MMR until it first completes a document that assesses comprehensively the environmental impacts of all training-related activities at MMR.
"This settlement is a major victory for the Wai`anae community, which has said for years that the military's training at Mākua Military Reservation has a significant impact on the people, the land, and the resources at Mākua," said Sparky Rodrigues, president of Mālama Mākua. "We are encouraged that the Army is finally going to follow the law, but we will also be watching to make sure that the studies are adequate and that the community is actively involved."