2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 2 May 2002 19:59:27 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Court orders halt to FDM bomber training

For immediate release:  April 30, 2002
Paul Achitoff, Earthjustice, 808-599-2436
Peter Galvin, Center for Biological Diversity, 510-841-0812 x2


         Today, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, District Judge for the District 
of  Columbia, issued an injunction immediately halting all military 
activities  at Farallon de Medinilla that would harm or kill migratory 
birds.  The  Center for Biological Diversity, represented by
Earthjustice, had sued the  Navy for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty 
Act at FDM, and Judge Sullivan  on March 13, 2002 declared that the 
Navy's use of FDM violates the  law.  The Navy had nevertheless 
continued to use the island for live-fire  exercises using bombs, 
air-to-ground missiles, and other munitions, while  acknowledging that 
it was thereby killing migratory birds.  Today's ruling  enforces the 
law and stops the Navy's violations.

FDM, about 45 nautical miles from Saipan in the Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands, is about 0.3 miles wide and 1.7 miles long,  
or about 206 acres.  It is home to more than a dozen species of
migratory  birds protected by the MBTA, including the great  
frigatebird, masked booby,  brown booby, red-footed booby, sooty tern, 
brown noddy, black noddy, fairy  tern, cattle egret, red-tailed 
tropicbird, white-tailed tropicbird, Pacific  golden plover, whimbrel,
bristle-thighed curlew, and ruddy turnstone.  Most  of these species
also nest at FDM.  FDM is one of only two small breeding  colonies of
the great frigatebird in the Mariana island chain, and is also  the
largest known nesting site for masked boobies in the Mariana and 
Caroline islands.

         The military has been using FDM for live-fire training, during  
which bombers drop 500-, 750-, and 2000-pound bombs, precision-guided 
munitions, and mines; naval ships fire deck-mounted guns, using high 
explosive, point-detonating rounds; and aircraft fire machine guns, 
cannons, and missiles at FDM.  The resulting destruction of nesting 
migratory birds has been well established.

         The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is one of the nation's
oldest  conservation laws.  Enacted in 1918, it implements 
international treaties  between the U.S. and Japan, Russia, Mexico, and 
Canada designed to "save  from indiscriminate slaughter and insure the 
preservation of such migratory  birds as are either useful to man or 
harmless." The MBTA makes it "unlawful  at any time, by any means or in 
any manner," to, among other prohibited actions, "pursue, hunt, take, 
capture, [or] kill" any migratory bird  included in the terms of the 
treaties without a permit issued by the Fish  and Wildlife Service.  The 
Service turned down the Navy's 1996 application  for a permit to bomb 
FDM.  The Navy did not appeal or reapply, but  continued to bomb the 

         Notwithstanding the MBTA's protections, over 25% of all U.S.
bird  species are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act or
as Species  of Management Concern. During the past 30 years, about
one-fifth of the  bird species native to the U.S. have declined at rates 
equal to or  exceeding 2.5 percent per year. A trend of this magnitude 
represents a  cumulative decline of more than 50 percent over a span of 
30 years.

         Anticipating the court's ruling, the Department of Defense 
recently submitted to Congress a sweeping proposal to exempt military 
activities from the MBTA, along with many other environmental laws.  DoD 
has over 25 million acres of land under its jurisdiction.  Since these 
habitats encompass most of the migratory bird species in the U.S. during 
some period of the year, the proposed legislation, if enacted, would 
leave  many of the hundreds of migratory bird species vulnerable to 
wholesale  slaughter.

         Although the Navy argued to the court that uninterrupted use at 
FDM is vital, the court noted the testimony of military officers that 
other  facilities exist.

         Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff commented, "The court
properly  rejected the Navy's attempts to arrogate to itself the
decision whether to  obey the will of Congress.  The Navy is not above
the law.  This case  stands as an important reaffirmation of the
separation of powers that is a  cornerstone of our democracy."


 The Center for Biological Diversity is a science-based environmental 
advocacy organization founded in 1989, with thousands of members 
nationwide.  It works to protect wildlife and wild places in North
America  and the Pacific.

Earthjustice is a non-profit, public-interest, environmental law firm.
The  Mid-Pacific office opened in Honolulu in 1988 and has represented
dozens of  environmental, native Hawaiian, and community organizations.

Daniel R. Patterson Desert Ecologist Center for Biological Diversity
POB 493  Idyllwild California  92549 USA 
909.659.6053 x 306 tel / 659.2484 fax 
POB 710  Tucson Arizona   85702 USA 
520.623.5252 x 306 tel / 623.9797 fax 

The Center for Biological Diversity protects endangered species and wild 
places of North America and the Pacific through science, policy,
education,  citizen activism and environmental law.  Offices: Tucson and 
Phoenix,  Arizona; San Diego, Idyllwild and Berkeley, California; San 
Juan Islands,  Washington; and Silver City, New Mexico.

  Prev by Date: Re: [CPEO-MEF] Sprawl Threatens Operation of Arizona's Luke AFB
Next by Date: [CPEO-MEF] RRPI Round Over - the House Committee marks
  Prev by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] Dear Colleague letter and Update on HASC Actions
Next by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] RRPI Round Over - the House Committee marks

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index