Ruling: Army failed to provide crucial info - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Ruling: Army failed to provide crucial info

Makua Valley Makua Valley
David Henkin David Henkin
Henkin points to a map of Hawaiian cultural sites in Makua Henkin points to a map of Hawaiian cultural sites in Makua

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

MAKUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The last bullet the Army fired in live-fire training at Makua was in June of 2004.  Now a judge's ruling has re-ignited the battle over whether Makua should be a training ground for troops.

The Native Hawaiian group Malama Makua says there's more than meets the bird's-eye view in this verdant valley on the Leeward Coast.

"There's a whole history.", David Henkin explains, " There's a rich tapestry of history at Makua and some of it lies below the ground."

Attorney David Henkin represents Malama Makua.  He says Hawaiian cultural sites are all over.  The 400 acres the Army used and would like to use again for live-fire training.  He's hailing the words in this ruling from district judge Susan Oki Mollway.

Henkin elaborates, "So the Army needs to go back, do the surveys, do the studies. Put them out to public review and comment and then come out with a new final Environmental Impact Statement and new decision about whether Makua is a wise place for this type of training."

The Army fired back today, saying the ruling sides with its argument.

"The court found that the settlement agreements do not require the Army to conduct any particular type of survey" and that "settlement agreements don't require the Army to conduct any particular type of survey".

And its survey of three areas in question is sufficient to satisfy its obligation.

What the judge said is that the Army needs to provide accurate information about what we stand to lose if the Army were to resume live-fire training at Makua.

Malama Makua say the ruling on a sub-surface survey and a study on whether military maneuvers in Makua poisoned ocean life off shore means the Army's environmental impact statement released last year needs to be redone and re-submitted for public hearings.

"The U.S. Army will abide by the Court's order and carry on its responsibility to serve as a good steward of the natural environment."

The Army didn't address the E.I.S. concern but says it'll carry on its responsibility to serve as a good steward.

Henkin says, "The history of live-fire training at Makua is cultural sites destroyed and endangered species burned up.  And that, frankly, is not my definition of being a good steward.

Both sides agree on one thing:  Additional surveys and studies of Makua Valley will take months to complete.

Both sides will be back in federal court in February.  They'll argue over the Army's contamination studies.

 

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