2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Steve@miltoxproj.org
Date: 21 Mar 2002 15:47:26 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Judge: Navy Violated Migratory Bird Act
>>From today's ENS:

Navy Bombing Violates Migratory Bird Treaty Act 

WASHINGTON, DC, March 20, 2002 (ENS) - A federal district judge has 
ruled that the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense are violating the 
Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) by bombing and shelling a small island 
in the Pacific Ocean and killing protected birds. 
Judge Emmit Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of 
Columbia granted summary judgment last week in a lawsuit over the 
bombing of Farallon de Medinilla, an island in the Northern Marianas. 

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, passed in 1918, prohibits killing or 
otherwise harming migratory birds without a permit issued in accordance 
with federal regulations. 

The Navy admitted that protected birds are killed by the training 
exercises, and applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for 
a permit to continue the bombing. The USFWS declined to issue a permit 
in 1996. 

The Defense Department continued to bomb the island, claiming that the 
MBTA does not apply to federal agencies. 

On March 13, Judge Sullivan ruled that the military exercises violate 
MBTA, and ordered the parties to submit additional briefs concerning the 
nature and scope of an injunction limiting or halting training 
activities that kill protected birds. A hearing in the remedy phase of 
the case is scheduled for April 30, 2002. 

"We are pleased that the court has held that all federal agencies, 
including the military, need to follow federal environmental laws," said 
Paul Achitoff, attorney for Earthjustice. 

Sullivan chastised the government for arguing that environmentalists 
should support the Navy bombing because it make bird species more rare, 
offering birdwatchers additional enjoyment when spotting a live 
specimen. That argument was introduced by the Washington Legal 
Foundation, which supported the Navy in the suit. 

"Suffice it to say, there is absolutely no support in the law for the 
view that environmentalists should get enjoyment out of the destruction 
of natural resources because that destruction makes the remaining 
resources more scarce and therefore valuable," wrote Sullivan in his 
decision. "The Court hopes that the federal government will refrain from 
making or adopting such frivolous arguments in the future." 

Farallon de Medinilla is an island used by at least two dozen species of 
birds, including at least a dozen species that nest on the island. 
Farallon de Medinilla is home to breeding colonies of great frigatebird 
and the masked boobies as well as endangered Micronesian Megapodes. 

"The ruling upholds the U.S. commitment to the protection of migratory 
birds and to meeting our treaty obligations," said Peter Galvin, 
conservation biologist for the Center for Biological Diversity. 

Steve Taylor
National Organizer
Military Toxics Project
(207) 783-5091 (phone)
(207) 783-5096 (fax)
P.O. Box 558
Lewiston, ME  04243-0558

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