By Christopher Dunagan, Posted September 6, 2012, The Kitsap Sun
The group Ground Zero for Nonviolent Action, which filed a lawsuit against the Navy in June, followed up Thursday with a motion that seeks a preliminary injunction to halt construction.
Irreparable harm to the environment from wharf construction far outweighs the cost of delaying the project until the environmental effects are fully explained and considered, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, according to attorneys for Ground Zero.
"The plaintiffs have demonstrated likelihood of success on the merits by showing that the Navy failed to comply with numerous provisions of (federal law)," states the motion filed by attorney Katherine George of the
firm Harrison, Benis and Spence. Seattle
Meanwhile, in a similar case, the Suquamish Tribe's lawsuit against the Navy has been moved from U.S. District Court in
to U.S. District Court in ,
where the Ground Zero case resides. Now both cases are under the jurisdiction
of District Judge Ronald B. Leighton. Tacoma
Late Thursday, attorneys for the tribe also asked the judge for a preliminary injunction to halt construction of the
wharf. In addition to allegations that
the Navy circumvented the National Environmental Policy Act, tribal attorneys
cited violations of the tribe’s treaty rights, the Endangered Species Act, the
Administrative Procedures Act and the U.S. Constitution. Bangor
In her pleadings, George said the Navy illegally determined the exact size and location of the wharf before completing the environmental review, which would have shown that the wharf is larger than the Navy needs. Six alternatives described in an environmental-impact statement talked about different design features, but the Navy failed to consider a smaller wharf or alternative locations, the motion states.
Appendices addressing "purpose and need," "alternatives considered" and "explosives safety arcs" were withheld from public review and comment, contrary to environmental law — even though the Navy used such information to make decisions, according to the motion. Similar information was already in the public domain, the motions says.
"These documents were critical to the environmental analysis, because the Navy relied on them in ruling out less harmful alternatives and in claiming that the location, size and design of the wharf were inflexibly predetermined," the motion states. Under existing court rulings, the Navy cannot avoid environmental laws by claiming "national security implications," as it has done, according to Ground Zero's pleadings.
The Navy has awarded a $331 million contract to a
complete overwater work for the pier. Without court intervention, construction
is expected to begin within a few weeks. Virginia
Navy officials say they do not comment about ongoing litigation.
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