Posted at 1:46 p.m., Thursday, October 5, 2006
Appeals court rules against Army Strykers in Hawai`i
By TARA GODVIN
A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the Army must now complete a supplemental analysis that would consider a variety of locations for the Stryker Brigade.
David Henkin, a lawyer for Earthjustice, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of three Native Hawaiian groups, said the ruling means the Army must stop all Stryker-specific construction and training in Hawai`i.
The Army wouldn't be able to resume the construction and training until another court decides what specific activities the Army would be permitted until it's back in compliance with the law, Henkin said.
Henkin represents the Ilioulaokalani Coalition, Na Imi Pono and Kipuka. The three groups appealed the case last year, challenging an earlier district court ruling allowing the Army to go ahead with its plans to base a Stryker Brigade at Scholfield Barracks.
"This decision does not say that there cannot be a Stryker Brigade in Hawai1i. It says ... that the Army's decision to put the Stryker Brigade in Hawai`i was illegal because it was uninformed," Henkin said.
The Army did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The decision said that the Army's environmental studies in the run-up to starting work on the Stryker Brigade never adequately answered the question, "Why Hawai`i?"
In its final programmatic environmental impact statement, the Army "leaps to the assumption that transformation in Hawai`i or no action are the only alternatives," the judges said. "This is where the impermissible 'narrowing' takes place. The Army violated NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) by not considering alternatives that include transformation of the 2nd Brigade outside of Hawai`i."